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Canucks' Tortorella set to return vs. Red Wings

by Brian Hedger

CANUCKS (27-20-9) at RED WINGS (24-19-12)


Last 10: Vancouver 3-7-0; Detroit 4-4-2

Season series: The Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings play twice this season and this is the second game. The Red Wings won the first meeting 2-1 on Oct. 30 in Vancouver.

Big story: Each team is locked into a tight battle for a Stanley Cup Playoffs spot in its respective conferences. The Canucks are clinging to the last postseason spot in the Western Conference and the Red Wings are among a group of five teams right outside the cutoff mark in the East.

Injuries to a number of lineup regulars present challenges to each team, but Vancouver will get coach John Tortorella back from a six-game suspension after going 2-4-0 without him on the bench.

Team Scope:

Canucks: Vancouver has failed to gain two points in 12 of its past 16 games and has lost three straight while feeling the heat in the chase for the West's final postseason wild-card spot. It's currently theirs, but the Phoenix Coyotes are only a point behind and the 10th through 12th place teams are all within striking distance.

The Canucks are also down four defensemen because of injuries, including three who are right-handed shots. The latest to go down was Yannick Weber, who was hurt during a 4-3 loss at the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

"We were resilient," center Ryan Kesler said. "We need to find a way to win. It's a tough one. I don't like to lose. Nobody in here likes to lose. It's getting really old."

The Canucks acquired defenseman Raphael Diaz from the Montreal Canadiens on Monday for forward Dale Weise, after recalling defenseman Yann Sauve from the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League on Sunday.

Sauve, 23, has collected nine points (all assists) and 37 penalty minutes in 38 games with the Comets this season. The Montreal native has played in five NHL games for Vancouver in his career.

Red Wings: Detroit avoided being shut out for a fourth straight road game, but still lost a sixth straight road game with a 6-5 defeat in overtime at the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

The good news is the top line of Gustav Nyquist, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader produced five of the Red Wings' eight goals and amassed nine points against the Capitals in the weekend home-and-home set. That included four points by Nyquist, who recorded his first NHL hat trick and assisted on another goal in the loss Sunday afternoon.

The bad news is the defensive coverage lagged Sunday, leaving goaltender Jimmy Howard with little chance to stop the majority of Washington's goals.

"We showed some good resilience tonight," Howard said. "We found a way to come back, scraping and clawing and getting a point. At the same time, we could've easily been walking out of here with two points. I've got to find a way to come up with a couple more saves for the guys."

Who's hot: Kesler has a goal and three assists in the past two games for the Canucks. ... Nyquist is making a push to replace injured teammate Johan Franzen on the Swedish roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. His hat trick Sunday gave him eight goals in the past seven games for the Red Wings.

Injury report: Vancouver forward Mike Santorelli (shoulder surgery), defenseman Kevin Bieksa (undisclosed injury) and defenseman Andrew Alberts (upper body) are on injured reserve. Forward Henrik Sedin (ribs) will play Monday after missing the past six games. Right wing Brad Richardson (undisclosed) is out. Defenseman Christopher Tanev (upper body) is reportedly out until after the Olympic break and Weber (undisclosed) is out Monday. ... The Red Wings are still missing center Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Franzen (concussion) and center Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery), who are all on IR.

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