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Canucks-Penguins Preview @NHLdotcom
Canucks-Penguins Preview

GAME: Vancouver Canucks (25-15-5) at Pittsburgh Penguins (11-25-9).

TIME: Monday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Vancouver Canucks will be hard-pressed to repeat their eight-goal performance from their last game, but with the Pittsburgh Penguins as the opponent it might be possible.

The Canucks, who scored a season-high in Saturday's 8-1 victory over the New York Islanders, conclude a three-game road trip at Pittsburgh. The Penguins have allowed a league-high 181 goals, including 28 during their current six-game losing streak.

Todd Bertuzzi scored three goals for the second time this season on Saturday night. The hat trick came against the team that drafted him 23rd overall in 1993.

"Bert was dominant especially early on when it mattered most," said goaltender Alex Auld, who made 36 saves. "You could tell it was an inspired effort."

Anson Carter added two goals and an assist for the Canucks, who took a 3-0 lead in the first 11 minutes and have won four of their last five games.

"It's something that our team needed," Bertuzzi said. "We needed to have a breakout like this and get everyone's confidence up."

The Penguins' six straight losses come after one of their best stretches of the season, when they won three out of four games. They lost 5-4 on Sunday night to the Nashville Predators, failing to overcome a four-goal second period deficit.

"I don't know what's going on," said goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped 17 of 18 shots in relief of Sebastien Caron. "We had such a good stretch. Now it seems so tough to just get a win. Hopefully, it's going to change."

This is Pittsburgh's fifth game in seven nights, three of which came on the road. Coach Michael Therrien hinted fatigue might be affecting the team's play.

"It's not easy," Therrien said. The effort was there for most of our play. Sometimes you can't always blame the goalie. It's the mental mistakes that cause goals."

Zigmund Palffy had an assist in the loss, giving him three in a three-game streak. He has 10 goals and 12 assists in 23 career games versus the Canucks.

Vancouver has won the last four meetings in the series, although the Penguins are 56-33-11 against the Canucks all-time.

STANDINGS: Canucks - 55 points, 2nd place (tied), 2 PB, Northwest Division. Penguins - 31 points, 5th place, 32 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Markus Naslund, 22 goals and 49 points; Henrik Sedin, 30 assists; Bertuzzi, 74 PIM. Penguins - Sidney Crosby, 21 goals, 50 points and 66 PIM; Palffy, 31 assists.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Canucks - Power play: 19.3 percent (58 for 301), 9th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.4 percent (224 for 275), 19th. Penguins - Power play: 17.4 percent (49 for 282), 16th. Penalty killing: 78.7 percent (236 for 300), 29th.

GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Auld (17-11-3, 0 SO, 2.81 GAA); Maxime Ouellet (0-1-1, 0, 4.39). Penguins - Fleury (5-12-3, 0, 3.15); Caron (5-3-3, 0, 4.18).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Chances, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 9, 2003; Canucks, 4-3 (OT). At Vancouver, British Columbia, former Penguin Naslund scored all four goals for the Canucks, including the game-winner 24 seconds into overtime.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 9-12-2 on the road; Penguins - 6-11-5 at home.

Associated Press

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