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First portion of Canucks' long trip ends against Wild

by Brian Hunter
CANUCKS (37-21-2) at WILD (29-27-4)

Last 10: Vancouver 7-3-0; Minnesota 5-4-1

Season series:
Fifth of six meetings between Northwest Division rivals. The Canucks took the first three matchups this season before the Wild broke through for a 5-2 win in the most recent meeting on Jan. 13. Ryan Kesler and Alexandre Burrows have paced Vancouver with three goals apiece, while Kyle Brodziak has scored three for Minnesota.

Big story: The Canucks ensured they can do no worse than split the pre-Olympic portion of their marathon road trip by winning in Columbus on Friday night. They are 4-3-0 so far on a 14-game journey that concludes with half a dozen games when the NHL season gets back under way in March.

Team Scope:

Canucks: Third-period goals by Sami Salo and Mikael Samuelsson lifted Vancouver to a come-from-behind 4-3 win against Columbus. Kyle Wellwood had started the rally from a 3-1 deficit in the second. Andrew Raycroft stopped 32 shots -- including all 19 he faced in the third -- and won his 100th NHL game in giving Roberto Luongo a breather.

"When the game was on the line in the third period, he did what a goaltender is supposed to and he gave us a chance to win," coach Alain Vigneault said.

Wild: This is the finale of a five-game homestand for Minnesota that started off promising with wins over Edmonton and Philadelphia, but has followed with a pair of one-goal defeats to Phoenix and Atlanta. Now the Wild face the rubber game, and anything less than two points will make their predicament coming out of the Olympic break all the more challenging.

"You go out there and you want to win, and we're not able to do the jobs and get two points. It's tough. It's not enough to go out there and play OK," goalie Niklas Backstrom said.

Who's hot: Kesler has two goals and two assists during a four-game points streak for Vancouver. Luongo is coming off his fourth shutout of the season, a 31-save performance against his former Florida team. … Martin Havlat has three goals and two assists in the last four games for Minnesota. Guillaume Latendresse has three goals in five games.

Injury report:
Pavol Demitra, who hasn't played since scoring the game-tying goal and the winning shootout goal against the Bruins on Feb. 6, is expected to be in the lineup for the Canucks on Sunday. Forward Alexandre Bolduc (shoulder) and defensemen Willie Mitchell (concussion) and Kevin Bieksa (ankle) are on injured reserve.

Wild backup goalie Josh Harding is day-to-day with a hip injury. Defenseman Clayton Stoner (hernia) and forwards Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion) and Chuck Kobasew (sprained MCL/ACL) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack:
Minnesota adds a fresh face to its lineup with the addition of defenseman Cam Barker, acquired in a trade with Chicago for veteran blueliner Kim Johnsson. The 23-year-old Barker has four goals and 14 points in 51 games this season and 17 goals and 80 points in 200 career games over parts of five seasons with the Blackhawks.

"It's not too often you get the opportunity to acquire a 23-year-old defenseman who is 6-foot-3, can shoot the puck and play on the power play," Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said. "And he's a young player that hasn't even entered the prime of his career."

Puck drop:
Luongo gets one more opportunity to show off for Team Canada. With Martin Brodeur and the Devils struggling of late, another outstanding effort by Luongo could buy him some additional playing time when he backs to Vancouver.

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