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Carolina pays rare visit to Vancouver

by Brian Hunter
HURRICANES (2-1-0) at CANUCKS (1-2-1)

Season series:
This is the only meeting between these teams for the 2010-11 season. When they last met, on Dec. 5, 2009, Erik Cole recorded his sixth career hat trick as the Hurricanes defeated the Canucks 5-3 in Carolina.

Big story: For a team with Stanley Cup aspirations, Vancouver is scuffling to start the season. The Canucks opened by going 1-0-1 on home ice, then lost consecutive games in Anaheim and Los Angeles with Roberto Luongo allowing four goals in each.

"Obviously right now a couple of our guys are trying real hard to get going and it's not going obviously to the way that they'd like to," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We've just got to stick with the process, we've got some good players, they're hard workers, they prepare themselves well, they're good people and they'll find a way here to get back on track."
Team Scope:
Hurricanes: Technically, this is the second stop on a five-game road trip for Carolina -- but truth is, the Hurricanes have been on the road since the regular season started and won't play their first game at the RBC Center until Oct. 27. They began in Helsinki, Finland, by sweeping a pair of games from the Wild -- one of which counted as a home game -- and then returned to North America for a game in Ottawa last Thursday. Despite rallying from a two-goal deficit in the third period when Sergei Samsonov and Eric Staal scored 1:39 apart, they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Senators.

"Tonight we just weren't moving," coach Paul Maurice said. "We just didn't have any jump so we left it to our goaltender to bail us out of some of the strange decisions that we made and he did so that's how you get a chance to win games when you're not good and we weren't very good."

Canucks: In a rematch of a first-round series from last spring's Stanley Cup Playoffs, Los Angeles got a bit of revenge on Vancouver for a six-game ouster by handing the visitors a 4-1 defeat on Friday. The Canucks entered the third period trailing 2-0, closed the gap on a Daniel Sedin goal, then yielded a pair to Kings captain Dustin Brown for the final margin. Luongo finished with 15 saves on 19 shots.

"We've got to focus on cleaning up our game," he said. "It's not the way we want it, but it's early in the season, and I'm sure we'll see them again down the road. Right now goals aren't coming, but we shouldn't be panicking."

Who's hot: Samsonov scored in his return to the Hurricanes' lineup after suffering a neck injury during the preseason. Goalie Cam Ward has a 2.28 goals-against average and .936 save percentage through three games. … Daniel Sedin (4-2-6) leads the Canucks in goals and scoring. He and brother Henrik Sedin (0-5-5) are on four-game points streaks to begin the season.

Injury report:
Vancouver defenseman Keith Ballard (left shoulder) is day-to-day, while defensemen Sami Salo (right Achilles) and forwards Alexandre Burrows (left shoulder) and Alexandre Bolduc (high ankle sprain) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack: The Hurricanes are dead last in the NHL in faceoff percentage, winning just 37.4 percent of their draws through the first three games. … Conversely, the Canucks are second in the League at 56.7 percent. Center Manny Malhotra won 14 of 18 faceoffs Friday night, including the first 10 he took.

Puck drop:
Each team begins a stretch of three games in four nights, with Carolina heading to San Jose on Tuesday and Los Angeles on Wednesday, while Vancouver visits Minnesota and Chicago those same days.

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