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Canucks' Luongo hoping for Xcel exorcism vs. Wild

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In his first career start against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center in 2000, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, then a member of the Florida Panthers, backstopped his team to a 0-0 tie.

But to say it's been a struggle for him in this building since would be an understatement. His career numbers at the X: 3-9-2 with a 3.92 goals-against average and a .873 save percentage (those numbers include the 0-0 tie). Luongo has been pulled in each of his past three starts here. It got so bad over the final years with Alain Vigneault behind the bench that he refused to start Luongo in St. Paul.

But with a new coach comes new confidence as Luongo will face the Wild in Minnesota on Tuesday for the first time since Oct. 19, 2010.

"Doesn't matter, he's playing," Canucks coach John Tortorella said. "He's gotta exorcise that demon I guess, if that's what everybody thinks this is. He's a pro, he needs to play."

Minnesota will counter with Josh Harding, who took a shot high during morning skate and had to briefly leave the ice. He returned minutes later and Wild coach Mike Yeo said he should be fine.

"I was actually watching the other end at that time so I didn't see what happened, I just saw him on the ground," Yeo said.

The Wild also got a bit of good news on the Mikael Granlund front, as the second-year center skated with his teammates for the second consecutive day. Granlund has missed the Wild's past nine games and 11 of the past 12 overall (although he only played 29 seconds in the one game he played during that stretch) with a concussion.

Yeo declined to provide a specific timetable for his return. He said Monday that Granlund was pushing for a return as soon as Tuesday, but barring a change of heart, Granlund is not expected to play against the Canucks. He will, however, accompany the Wild on their upcoming four-game road trip and could get back in the lineup as soon as Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"He looks good. He's flying," Yeo said. "He was on the ice for a couple days before we had him come out with us yesterday and he kept himself in really good shape."

Here are projected lineups for the Wild and Canucks:


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen

Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Mike Santorelli

David Booth - Brad Richardson - Zack Kassian

Tom Sestito - Zac Dalpe - Dale Weise

Ryan Stanton - Kevin Bieksa

Dan Hamhuis - Christopher Tanev

Yannick Weber - Jason Garrison

Roberto Luongo

Eddie Lack

Scratched: Andrew Alberts, Jeremy Welsh

Injured: Jordan Schroeder (ankle), Alexandre Burrows (broken jaw), Alexander Edler (lower body)


Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville

Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Brett Bulmer

Dany Heatley - Zenon Konopka - Torrey Mitchell

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Keith Ballard - Clayton Stoner

Josh Harding

Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Justin Fontaine, Mike Rupp, Nate Prosser

Injured: Mikael Granlund (concussion)

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