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Canucks need more big play from rookies vs. Devils

by Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com

CANUCKS (33-21-3) at DEVILS (22-26-9)

TV: SNP, MSG+

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Vancouver Canucks are using adversity as motivation in an attempt to keep pace with the top teams in the Western Conference and ultimately solidify a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The injury-depleted Canucks, who opened a five-game Eastern Conference road trip with a come-from-behind 5-4 shootout victory against the New York Rangers on Thursday, will look to make it five wins in the past six games when they visit the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Friday.

Despite the absence of top-four defensemen Alexander Edler (upper body), Christopher Tanev (upper body) and Kevin Bieksa (broken hand), second-line center Nick Bonino (lower body) and third-line center Brad Richardson (ankle), the Canucks have found a way to defeat the Rangers, Minnesota Wild, Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks in a span of nine days.

"I've always liked this team, liked our character," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said after the win against the Rangers. "It's tough when you're losing. But the character in our room has never changed."

Desjardins is expected to give goaltender Eddie Lack his second start in three games; he has won his past three starts. Ryan Miller made 30 saves through overtime Thursday, and stopped Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan in the shootout. Lack, 27, who will be making his first career start against New Jersey, is 6-6-2 with a 2.53 goals-against average in 18 games this season.

Also helping the Canucks have been contributions from some of the younger players, including fourth-liners Bo Horvat and Ronalds Kenins, center Linden Vey and defenseman Alex Biega.

"They play hard and go to the net," Desjardins said of Horvat and Kenins. "The Horvat line has been really good for us."

Horvat, 19, is on a career-high five-game point streak; he has three goals and two assists in that span. Kenins, 23, has three goals and three assists in nine games.

"We've been playing great and Jannik [Hansen] has been playing well also with his speed and playmaking ability, so we just have to keep it up as a line," Horvat said.

Hansen, 28, has points in four straight games (one goal, four assists) and needs at least one against the Devils to match a career-high set in December 2011.

The Devils are playing the second game of a six-game homestand. New Jersey scored a 2-1 shootout victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday to snap a four-game losing streak.

Here are the projected lineups:

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows

Chris Higgins - Linden Vey - Radim Vrbata

Brandon McMillan - Shawn Matthias - Derek Dorsett

Ronalds Kenins - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen

Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber

Luca Sbisa - Alex Biega

Ryan Stanton - Adam Clendening

Eddie Lack

Ryan Miller

Scratched: Zack Kassian, Bobby Sanguinetti

Injured: Alexander Edler (upper body), Frank Corrado (upper body), Nick Bonino (lower body), Kevin Bieksa (broken hand), Brad Richardson (ankle), Christopher Tanev (upper body)

DEVILS

Tuomo Ruutu - Scott Gomez - Jaromir Jagr

Adam Henrique - Patrik Elias - Steve Bernier

Mike Cammalleri - Travis Zajac - Jordin Tootoo

Dainius Zubrus - Jacob Josefson - Stephen Gionta

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

Jon Merrill - Marek Zidlicky

Eric Gelinas - Peter Harrold

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Scratched: Michael Ryder, Mark Fraser, Martin Havlat

Injured: Damon Severson (fractured left ankle), Bryce Salvador (back), Ryane Clowe (concussion)

Status report: McMillan, claimed on waivers from the Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 15, made his Vancouver debut in place of Kassian against New York. He played 12:05. … The Canucks had the morning off so the lineup will not be confirmed until warmups. The Devils had an optional morning skate. … Schneider would make his NHL-leading 50th start of the season. His next win will give him a career-high 21.

Who's hot: Henrik Sedin has three goals and eight points in the past seven games. … Schneider is 8-4-1 in his past 14 games, with a 1.78 GAA and .941 save percentage.

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