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Canucks hope Jensen can spark offense

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella will tinker with his top line to find some needed offense against the New York Islanders on Monday.

In his second game since being called up from the American Hockey League on Friday, rookie right wing Nicklas Jensen will move up to play alongside center Henrik Sedin and left wing Alexandre Burrows. Given the lengthy scoring slumps of the other two first-line forwards, Jensen may be the one counted on to provide a spark.

Burrows has yet to score a goal in a season limited to 34 games by a variety of injuries, while Sedin doesn't have a point in 12 games and hasn't scored in 23 games. Jensen, a 21-year-old picked 29th in the 2011 NHL Draft, had nine goals in his past 14 AHL games before being held without a shot in 16:18 of ice time against the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

"You need that as an organization to have young guys come in and get some minutes," Sedin said. "They play with a lot of excitement and energy. There are going to be some mistakes, but it's not like we've been mistake-free all the other nights either."

Jensen played one of his two NHL games last season with Henrik and Daniel Sedin, so he knows to expect the unexpected from Henrik.

"You have to be aware a pass might come when it doesn't seem it's possible," Jensen said. "There are times passes come that not many players can make and that's why he [Henrik Sedin] is so good in this League."

It also is why Sedin's slump is hard to understand. The Art Ross and Hart trophy winner in 2010 as the League's leading scorer and most valuable player, Sedin's 40 points this season puts him on pace for his lowest total in an 82-game season since 2003-04.

Tortorella is at a loss for an explanation.

"I don't have one," he said. "I wish I did or we wouldn't be in this spot here. We talk quite a bit as a group as far as the offensive guys, how we can help as a coaching staff. Offensive guys need something good to happen to them and it's just been, for Henrik the second half and [Burrows] the whole season, it just hasn't been that way."

While the Canucks continue to look for offense after scoring 11 goals in the past 10 games, the Islanders have been a team that struggles to defend, especially late in games. New York blew third period leads in the first three games of a four-game Western Canada road trip that concludes Monday, and surrendered two-goal leads in the past two, losing one in regulation and the other in overtime.

Coach Jack Capuano said his only lineup change is to start goalie Evgeni Nabokov after rookie Anders Nilsson gave up three goals in 4:12 in the third period of a 4-3 loss in Calgary on Friday.

"We have to find a way," Capuano said, stressing it was the same type of defensive mistakes causing the blown leads. "Just continue to work on it, continue to teach. Hopefully they will learn."

Here are the projected lineups for the Islanders and Canucks:


Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo

Josh Bailey - Brock Nelson - Cal Clutterbuck

Anders Lee - Ryan Strome - Colin McDonald

Mike Halmo - Casey Cizikas - Matt Martin

Calvin De Haan - Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey - Lubomir Visnovsky

Brian Strait - Matt Donovan

Evgeni Nabokov

Anders Nilsson

Scratched: Radek Martinek, Matt Carkner, Eric Boulton

Injured: John Tavares (knee)


Alexandre Burrows - Henrik Sedin - Nicklas Jensen

Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Jannik Hansen

Tom Sestito - Shawn Matthias - David Booth

Darren Archibald - Jordan Schroeder - Zac Dalpe

Dan Hamhuis - Christopher Tanev

Alexander Edler - Kevin Bieksa

Jason Garrison - Yannick Weber

Eddie Lack

Jacob Markstrom

Suspended: RW Zack Kassian

Injured: Brad Richardson (undisclosed), Ryan Stanton (undisclosed), Daniel Sedin (lower body), Mike Santorelli (shoulder surgery), Andrew Alberts (concussion)

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