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Canucks shoot for elusive second straight win

by Brian Hunter
AVALANCHE (4-4-0) at CANUCKS (3-3-2)


Season Series: First of six meetings this season between these Northwest Division rivals. Colorado won the opening matchup last season by a 3-0 score, but Vancouver went 4-0-1 after that. The Canucks’ Henrik Sedin and Mikael Samuelsson led all scorers with 4 goals apiece -- Sedin had a hat trick in an 8-2 win on Nov. 14, 2009, while Samuelsson had one in a 6-4 win on March 9, 2010. Matt Duchene led the Avalanche with 3 goals.

Big Story: This is the only game for the Canucks in a stretch of nine days. Coach Alain Vigneault told the Vancouver Sun it will give the team plenty of practice time -- and it would seem there are still a fair number of kinks to be worked out. The Canucks have yet to win consecutive games, a feat they can accomplish Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: A five-minute power play turned the tide in Colorado’s game against Los Angeles on Saturday. Milan Hejduk scored his second of the night during the advantage to lift the Avalanche into a 4-4 tie with the Kings, but moments later Brad Richardson netted a shorthanded goal. He added an empty-netter to complete a hat trick and send the Avs to a 6-4 defeat, their third in four games. The team has given up 9 power-play goals and 4 shorthanders already this season.

"You don't want to be giving up a shorthanded goal, and we've been doing that a lot this year," goalie Craig Anderson said. "We've got to be better. It starts from me and it works its way out. If I'm better, the guys will be better."

Canucks: Vancouver is still trying to get all-world goaltender Roberto Luongo going -- he’s off to a 1-3-2 start -- but backup Corey Schneider picked up his second victory in as many starts when the Canucks handled the Wild 5-1 on Friday. Schneider made 13 of his 23 saves in the second period and has an 0.86 goals-against average and .968 save percentage in three games (one relief appearance).

"It's great getting playing time, especially when you have a team like that playing in front of you in both starts I've had,” he said. "It's made my life easy and I'm getting comfortable in there and can hopefully take on some bigger roles on the road or some tougher games in the future."

Who's Hot: Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles had another assist Saturday, giving him 10 for the season. He has at least one point in each game this season and is tied for the team lead in scoring with Chris Stewart (5-5-10), who has 4 goals and 4 assists during a five-game points streak. Hejduk has 3 goals and 3 assists during a three-game points streak and Paul Stastny scored twice and added an assist against Los Angeles.

Manny Malhotra had 2 goals and an assist in Vancouver's win over Minnesota. Leading scorer Daniel Sedin (7-4-11) picked up an assist and has a point in all eight games.

Injury Report: Avalanche captain Adam Foote (concussion) is out indefinitely, while fellow defenseman Scott Hannan (head) is day-to-day. Forwards David Koci (broken jaw) and Peter Mueller (concussion) are on injured reserve.

Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis (foot) is day-to-day. Defenseman Keith Ballard (concussion) is out indefinitely. Defenseman Sami Salo (Achilles) and forwards Alexandre Burrows (shoulder) and Alexandre Bolduc (high ankle sprain) are on injured reserve. Forward Rick Rypien is serving a six-game suspension.

Stat Pack: Liles tied the NHL record for consecutive games with an assist by a defenseman to begin a season. He’ll try to break the mark originally set in 2008-09 by Filip Kuba of Ottawa. ... Raffi Torres’ goal for Vancouver on Friday was the 100th of his career.

Puck Drop: "The assist streak is nice, but we just can't give up points at home like this. Especially fighting back and battling back to tie the game and to give up a shorthanded goal is unacceptable.” -- Avs defenseman John-Michael Liles
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