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Canucks meet Wild for second time in four days

by Brian Hunter
WILD (3-2-1) at CANUCKS (2-3-2)


Season Series:
Second of six meetings between these Northwest Division rivals, and the second in four days. Marek Zidlicky had a power-play goal and a pair of assists as Minnesota drew first blood with a 6-2 victory at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday. Daniel Sedin scored both goals for Vancouver.

Big Story:
After finishing 19 points behind the division-winning Canucks a season ago, the Wild hope to spend the 2010-11 campaign jockeying for playoff position with them instead. Minnesota has won consecutive games and three of four since losing twice to Carolina in its season-opening series in Helsinki, Finland.

"To be successful in the League, you can't be good one night and so-so the next night," coach Todd Richards told the Minneapolis Star Tribune earlier this week. "You've got to string wins together. You need three in a row, four in a row. And when you do lose one, you have to get right back on that winning streak."

Team Scope:

Wild: Kyle Brodziak was drafted by Edmonton and came into the League with the Oilers, where he played parts of four seasons. He landed in Minnesota last season, where he recorded a career-high 32 points, and on Thursday night he scored a pair of goals against his old club 2:45 apart in the first period to spark a 4-2 win for the Wild.

"It's the same as doing anywhere else, I think," Brodziak said. "It's nice to be able to contribute.

"That feels good when you can contribute and the team wins. It doesn't make any difference where it happens."

Two wins in seven games isn't the type of start Vancouver envisioned to its season. Goaltender Roberto Luongo undoubtedly feels the same way about his mediocre stats (1-3-2, 2.92 goals-against average, .903 save percentage). It was hard to complain about the result through 65 minutes against Chicago on Wednesday -- a 1-1 deadlock with Luongo stopping 31 shots. But the Blackhawks scored three times on as many shootout attempts against him to deal the Canucks a 2-1 loss, their fourth in five games.

"Obviously, I am disappointed in the shootout," Luongo told the Vancouver Sun. "I have to make a save there and give the team a chance to win. I'm just not good enough there in the shootout."

Who's Hot: Wild defenseman Brent Burns had an empty-net goal and an assist Thursday. He has 2 goals and 2 assists during a three-game points streak. Guillaume Latendresse, who had the game-winning power-play goal, has consecutive multi-point efforts. Matt Cullen has 2 goals and 5 assists during a four-game points streak. Martin Havlat is still looking for his first goal but has 5 assists in a three-game points streak.

Daniel Sedin is tied for the League lead with 7 goals. He leads the Canucks with 10 points and has at least one in every game this season. No one else on the team has more than 2 goals, though Henrik Sedin has 9 assists.

Injury Report:
Minnesota's injuries are all long-term -- goaltender Josh Harding (torn ACL/MCL) and forwards Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion) and James Sheppard (knee).

Vancouver is without defensemen Sami Salo (Achilles) and Keith Ballard (concussion) and forwards Alexandre Burrows (shoulder) and Alexandre Bolduc (high ankle sprain). Forward Rick Rypien was suspended indefinitely for a shoving a fan in Minnesota on Tuesday. He has a hearing with the League scheduled for Friday.

Stat Pack: This the second of 19 back-to-back sets the Wild play this season. They were 7-8 in the second half of back-to-backs last season and lost to the Hurricanes in the first instance this season. … Jeff Tambellini, Guillaume Desbiens and Tanner Glass, the Canucks' fourth line in Wednesday's game, combined for 12 hits.

Puck Drop:
Jose Theodore, who won the Bill Masterton Trophy last season but wasn't re-signed in Washington as the Capitals elected to go with youngsters Michael Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov in goal, is expected to receive his first start of the season for Minnesota. The former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner has a 5-7-2 career record in Vancouver with a 3.34 GAA and .882 saver percentage.

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