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Canucks Ds Salo, Mitchell back for second round

NHL.com @NHL

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -Top Canucks defensemen Sami Salo and Willie Mitchell are both expected to play when Vancouver starts the second round of the NHL playoffs.

Salo was back at practice on Monday after missing Game 4 in St. Louis, and pronounced himself fit. Mitchell, who was limping after Game 4, skipped practice Monday after leaving early Saturday, but coach Alain Vigneault expects him to play.

Unknown so far is who they will play against. The Canucks have been waiting and resting since sweeping St. Louis a week ago Tuesday night.

If No. 8 seed Anaheim completes an upset of San Jose, Vancouver will open at home against the winner of the Chicago-Calgary series. If the Sharks win, Vancouver will travel to Detroit.

The Ducks led 3-2 going into Monday night's Game 6 at home.

Either way, life will be easier for goalie Roberto Luongo, who leads the league with a 1.15 goals-against average in the playoffs and .962 save percentage. He stopped 126 of 131 shots by the Blues, including all 18 in overtime of a Game 4 victory.

"Great players find a way to elevate their game, bring it to another level, and he's done that," Vigneault said. "We need him to bring it to another level because as it continues it's going to get more challenging every game.

Luongo was left off the list of finalists for the Vezina Award as top goalie. Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild, Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins made the cut.

Notes: C Mats Sundin missed the final two games against St. Louis and said Friday he was uncertain about his status for the second round. But Vigneault said he talked to the 38-year-old after practice Monday and he would be ready to play. ... Vancouver LW Taylor Pyatt took part in his first full practice since returning last week after three weeks away to grieve the death of his fiancee in a car accident. "He looked fine to me so I think if we need him here in the next couple of days he should be ready, Vigneault said.

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