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Canucks host Wild in rare afternoon game

by Deborah Francisco /

WILD (3-2-2) AT CANUCKS (3-3-1)

TV: NHLN-US (HD), FS-North (HD), SNET-Pacific (HD)

Season Series : These Northwest Division rivals are meeting for the first of six times this season in one of only two home afternoon games the Canucks will play this season. Vancouver won four of six meetings last season, taking three of those games by three or more goals. In their final meeting on April, 7 in Vancouver, Ryan Kesler had a hat trick and Mason Raymond scored two goals in a 5-0 victory for the Canucks.

Big Story: Both teams are coming off exhilarating wins on Thursday. Dany Heatley, acquired in a trade from San Jose over the summer, scored with 1.2 seconds left in regulation to force OT and the Wild won 2-1 in a shootout at Edmonton. In Vancouver, the Sedin twins and Kesler powered the Canucks to a 5-1 win against Nashville in the team's best performance of the season.

Team Scope:

Wild -- The Wild breathed a collective sigh of relief after Matt Cullen tucked away the game-winning goal in a shootout against the Oilers. Edmonton scored late in the first period and held the lead until Heatley tied the game with 1.2 seconds left after the Wild pulled Niklas Backstrom for an extra attacker.

"It was like (Heatley) refused to lose that game tonight," coach Mike Yeo said. "I was pleased with the guys and their willingness to stick with it and keep battling. I was impressed how they believed they could get it done. I was happy to see Dany Heatley get that goal because he was one of the guys who was at the forefront."

Canucks: For the second time in three nights, the Canucks bombarded an opponent with 40 shots. But against the Predators -- and unlike their 4-0 loss to the Rangers two nights earlier -- some of those shots went in.

The Canucks struck for four goals in the first period and breezed for the remainder of the night. Kesler added a 5-on-3 power-play goal in the third period of a game that wiped out the bad feelings from two nights earlier.

"We should have had one or two goals against the Rangers but we didn't and that's when it usually comes back and hurts you," captain Henrik Sedin said. "But (Thursday) we got the early ones."

Who's Hot: Daniel Sedin is tied for the League lead in assists with seven so far. He tallied both a goal and an assist against Nashville.

Injury Report: Minnesota played on Thursday without defenseman Mike Lundin and forward Cody Almond, both sidelined with back issues. Captain Mikko Koivu left after being gashed in the face, and defenseman Greg Zanon played Thursday despite a groin issue. … Forward Mikael Samuelsson, who had offseason sports hernia surgery, didn't play Thursday after experiencing stiffness.

Stat Pack: The Canucks lead the league in power play opportunities with 39. They've produced seven power-play goals on 45 shots.

Puck Drop: The five goals on Thursday gave the Canucks a chance to unveil their new goal -- "Clutch," by Electric Worry.

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