No pleasantries are expected to be exchanged prior to the upcoming holiday as the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild renew acquaintances at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
Vancouver (10-8-2) scored four goals in the first 16:32 and routed its Northwest Division rivals 6-2 on Friday in the first meeting between the teams this season. The game turned chippy over the final five minutes as Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard and Willie Mitchell got into a scrap, and Canucks defenseman Mattias Ohlund was given a four-game suspension after his two-handed slash in retaliation to Mikko Koivu's elbow to the head broke a bone in the Wild forward's leg.
"Their so-called agitators were taking liberties," said the 6-foot-7, 254-pound Boogaard, who has no points, five fighting majors and 47 penalty minutes in 18 games. "As soon as I stepped on the ice, they just sort of spread out and scattered to their holes almost. They don't want to come near me or talk to me. But they think they can slash and stick and punch our skill guys. I'm not going to stand for it."
The two teams continued to antagonize each other after Ohlund's slash, with Canucks players accusing Wild forward Stephane Veilleux of shooting the puck at defenseman Mike Weaver as time wound down. Boogaard was serving a misconduct penalty at the time of Ohlund's slash, but is determined to protect his teammates this time around.
"Maybe I can go after, or check Naslund and those Pinky and the Brain twins," Boogaard said, referring to Swedish twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin, part of Vancouver's top scoring line.
The Canucks lost 5-4 in a shootout to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, but it was the seventh straight game they have gotten at least one point (5-0-2). Markus Naslund had a goal and an assist for Vancouver, which rallied from a two-goal, first-period deficit to take a 4-3 lead, only to concede a power-play goal midway through the third period that led to the shootout.
"I don't think we deserved any points tonight the way we played. We'll take the point and run," said Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, who allowed two goals in the five-round shootout.
In addition to Koivu's absence, the Wild (11-7-2) also are expected to be without Pavol Demitra, who is struggling to recover from a strained groin. Demitra will test the injury in the morning skate, but is expected to miss his eighth game in the last 10.
Minnesota did bounce back from Friday's loss with a 4-1 victory over Colorado on Sunday. Veilleux, Matt Foy and Brett Burns each scored in the second period for the Wild, who have won three straight home games but are only 4-7-1 since getting 15 of a possible 16 points (7-0-1) in their first eight contests.
"We're just three young guys out there crashing and banging and trying to put pucks in the net," said Foy, who is on a makeshift line with Aaron Voros and James Sheppard. "Aaron provides some size and Sheppard provides the skills and the smarts on the line. All three of us just clicked well."
Minnesota went 3-1-0 against Vancouver at the Xcel Energy Center last season, but the Canucks posted a 3-2 victory in the last game there.