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Canucks winless in seven straight with Sundin

by Brian Compton and John Kreiser / NHL.com
A few thoughts while the Rangers toss the video of Wednesday's third period in the Allegheny River:

Where's Mats? -- The arrival of Mats Sundin was supposed to drive the Vancouver Canucks well up into the top eight in the Western Conference -- maybe all the way to the Northwest Division title.

It hasn't happened. In fact, the Canucks are going backwards.

Sundin was scoreless again and took a penalty that led to the game-tying goal as the Canucks blew a 3-1 lead in a 5-3 home loss to the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night at General Motors Place. The Canucks have just one win in eight games with Sundin, but that win came in his first contest. He's produced just 3 points while being in the box for four opposition power-play goals.

It's not the kind of start he was looking for, and in hockey-mad Vancouver, the heat is on.

"Of course," he said when asked if he was feeling pressure. "My line and I are here to be productive and score goals -- create offense for this team. I think we all feel the pressure with the situation we're in."

The Canucks, who have lost eight in a row at home, have dropped into a four-way tie for the last two playoff spots in the West, but they've played more games than any of the other three teams -- their 49 games played are more than everyone in the conference except Anaheim, which has played 51.

"I believe we have a good enough team to make the playoffs, and go far in the playoffs" Sundin said. "It's up to us to play better, including myself.

"It seems like when you're losing, things are not going your way -- the puck isn't bouncing your way. I believe we have a good enough team here to be a playoff team and compete against the best teams in the conference. But it's going to take all of us to come out of it. There's time to turn it around, but we have to play better."

Mike'd Up -- The All-Star break did absolutely nothing to slow down Calgary Flames forward Michael Cammalleri.

The potential unrestricted free agent was at it again in his first game back after a week off, as he scored three times in a 5-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres. Cammalleri has scored in each of his last four games, with a total of 8 goals during that span. With 25 goals, Cammalleri has passed captain Jarome Iginla for the team lead.

''Obviously it's going in for me right now and it feels pretty good when the puck's going in like that,'' Cammalleri said. ''It definitely adds to the confidence level, and the stick feels pretty comfortable in your hands.''

Cammalleri has seen plenty of Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. The two played against each other during their college days, when Cammalleri was at Michigan and Miller at Michigan State.

''I've played a lot of games in college against Ryan Miller, he's always been the opposite, ultra-stingy, so it was lucky to get a lucky one on him,'' Cammalleri said.

40-minute effort -- Henrik Lundqvist took the blame for allowing five goals in the third period in a 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena. That's what leaders do.

But Rangers coach Tom Renney knew what happened -- his team became awfully sloppy. It was an odd sight considering the Blueshirts were in a pretty good position to win after two periods, when the teams were locked in a 1-1 tie.

 
 
"What he's doing is taking the responsibility for himself, and I admire that," Renney said. "But there's 18 skaters that better step up and do the same thing. The coaching staff might want to share that responsibility, as well. Him taking it upon himself is B.S., quite honestly. He doesn't need to do that. He's a great goaltender and a great teammate. He's one of the best goaltenders in the League. The rest of us have to step up and understand that it's a 60-minute contest."

Jordan Staal gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead on a fluke goal that went off of Lundqvist's skate and into the net. Things just snowballed from there during a period that saw Pittsburgh pepper No. 30 with 16 shots on goal. New York allowed 17 over the first two periods.

"I tried to stay focused," Lundqvist said. "It just happened so fast. I got away from the things that I have to do -- small things that make a big difference for me and my game. I don't know what happened. I just have to let this one go. Right now, I could destroy this locker room."

Great start -- Nikolai Khabibulin gave the Chicago Blackhawks the type of performance they needed in order to begin their eight-game road trip on a winning note.

Khabibulin made 36 saves, leading Chicago to an impressive 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center. It was the Hawks' first win in Anaheim since Nov. 17, 2006, and their first in regulation in nearly eight years.

"They really took it to us in the second and third periods," said forward Patrick Kane, whose power-play goal at 16:41 of the first period put Chicago ahead to stay. "They probably outplayed us, but our goaltender came up big and we buried our chances."

"Khabibulin was solid all game.  He was big and he was quick and took away a lot of their plays down there. He had good rebound control on a lot of their point shots." -- Chicago coach Joel Quenneville on Nikolai Khabibulin
Nearly one-third of Khabibulin's saves came in the third period, when he stopped all 11 shots he faced. He preserved the 3-2 lead late in the game as he robbed Samuel Pahlsson from point-blank range after the latter was able to redirect a blast from Chris Pronger.

Chicago continues its long trip Thursday night in Los Angeles. The Blackhawks do not play another game at the United Center until Feb. 14, when they host the Dallas Stars.

''Khabibulin was solid all game,'' Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. ''He was big and he was quick and took away a lot of their plays down there. He had good rebound control on a lot of their point shots."

Contact Brian Compton at bcompton@nhl.com.

Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.

 
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