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Canucks look for answers to lack of goals

by Dhiren Mahiban
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- They were the League leaders in goals during the regular season and have the game's top scorer, yet through the first two games against Nashville, finding the back of the net has been a serious issue for the Vancouver Canucks.

Vancouver has just four goals for in its last three games and head to Nashville for Games 3 and 4 with their best-of-seven series tied 1-1 after a 2-1 double-overtime loss in Game 2.

"I think our whole group needs to be better, I'm disappointed in our first three periods last night," coach Alain Vigneault said Sunday before the Canucks left for Tennessee. "Our execution was definitely off. In the first period we went off side on numerous occasions. In the second period we had five out-numbered situations where we didn't even get a shot on net.

"In the third, where we've been the best in the NHL this year as far as scoring goals, we didn't get a scoring chance."

Vancouver was outshot 26-15 through the first three periods on Saturday, and the League's best regular-season power play had just one shot on goal in their lone advantage.

Henrik Sedin, last season's Art Ross Trophy winner, has yet to score in these playoffs while his brother Daniel has just one goal in his last five games. Ryan Kesler, who had 41 goals during the regular season, is still looking for his first of the playoffs nine games in.

Things got so bad that in the second period Vigneault began playing Jannik Hansen and Chris Higgins with the twins to try and generate some offense.

"I'm not just looking at them right now, our whole group needs to be as far as generating quality chances and the type of chances at this time of the year have a good chance to go in," Vigneault said as the team prepared to board their charter for Nashville. "It's tighter-checking, goaltending obviously is better, we're playing against a Vezina Trophy finalist (Pekka Rinne) – we're going to have to be better."

Mikael Samuelsson, who was taken off the line with the Sedins, knows he has a higher gear. The 34-year-old had 8 goals and 15 points in 12 playoff games last spring, but has just two points through his first eight playoff games this year – none in his last six.

"I'm always disappointed when I don't get ice time, but the coach I guess felt he had to do something to get that line going, but it's up to the coach though," he said. "It hasn't gone my way, I've tried to work a little harder and hopefully it'll come."

Samuelsson, who missed Game 1 of the Chicago series, didn't necessarily shoot down the notion that he's been playing hurt through the playoffs, saying, "If I'm out there I'm good to go."

The Swede missed six games in March with the team called a lower-body injury and has just 1 goal and 1 assist in 10 games since returning.

Vigneault is convinced the two-day break between Games 2 and 3 will benefit his group.

"The series against Chicago was a physical and emotional. We'll be able to recharge our batteries and get going," he said. "I think our whole group can give us more and that's what we're going to work on in the next couple of days here."

Defenseman Sami Salo, who hasn't played since Game 6 of the Blackhawks series due to an undisclosed injury, was with the team on Sunday afternoon, but not speak with the media. Manny Malhotra, who the team says is done for the year with his eye injury, was also on the charter.

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