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High-flying Canucks hope to extend Leafs' woes

by Brian Hunter
CANUCKS (9-4-2) at MAPLE LEAFS (5-7-3)


Last 10:
Vancouver 7-2-1; Toronto 1-7-2

Season Series:
First of two meetings this season between Canadian rivals. Toronto will be in Vancouver for a Saturday matinee on Dec. 18. The Canucks won both meetings last season, with Roberto Luongo stopping 35 shots and Mason Raymond netting a pair of goals in a 3-1 win on Oct. 24, 2009, and the line of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Alexandre Burrows accounting for all five goals as they rallied from a 3-0 deficit for a 5-3 victory on Jan. 30, 2010.

Big Story: After opening the 2009-10 season with eight-straight losses, the Maple Leafs were determined to get off to a better start. They did just that, winning their first four to emerge as one of the NHL's early surprises. Unfortunately, the key word turned out to be "early" as the Leafs have only won once since then. The seven-game losing streak they carry into Saturday is their longest since the opening skid of a season ago.

Team Scope:

Canucks: How did Vancouver respond to getting shut out by Montreal on Tuesday and having its six-game winning streak snapped? The Canucks showed some snarl Thursday, as they blitzed the Senators 6-2 in Ottawa. Daniel Sedin opened the scoring just 22 seconds into the game and a four-goal third period left no doubt about the final outcome. Ryan Kesler finished with a couple of tallies and Luongo continued his strong play of late with 33 saves.

"It was a good bounce-back game," Kesler said. "I thought the first period we were a little sloppy. We were turning over pucks. At the end of the first we kind of re-established ourselves by just chipping it in and making it a simple game."

Maple Leafs:
With the scoring well having run dry -- Toronto has managed just three goals in its last three defeats, including a 4-1 setback Wednesday in Florida -- the team recalled 20-year-old forward Nazem Kadri from the AHL Marlies on Friday. Kadri, who played in one NHL game last season and failed to make the Maple Leafs out of training camp this fall, will play on a line with two other young, talented forwards, Tyler Bozak and Nikolai Kulemin.

"We want to surround Nazzy with detail [oriented] people so that he can show us what he can do offensively with the puck," coach Ron Wilson told the Globe and Mail. "So hopefully that line is able to click. And you've got to remember that they've only played one practice together but in theory I think it can work.

"Nazzy has the skills that our power play needs and if he does here what he's been doing in the AHL on the power play then it will pick up some steam I think."

Who's Hot:
Daniel Sedin has 3 goals and 3 assists over the last five games and Henrik Sedin has 1 goal and 5 assists over that span. They lead the Canucks in scoring with 18 points apiece. … Mikhail Grabovski has 2 goals and 3 assists over the last five games for the Maple Leafs.

Injury Report:
Vancouver has been without defensemen Sami Salo (Achilles) and Ryan Parent (groin) and forwards Guillaume Desbiens (broken hand) and Alexandre Bolduc (high ankle sprain). … Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf is sidelined following surgery on his leg to repair a serious skate laceration and forward Colby Armstrong is also on injured reserve with hand and foot injuries.

Stat Pack:
Alain Vigneault earned his 300th coaching win Thursday, the last 191 coming with the Canucks. Vigneault, who became the 39th NHL coach to reach the milestone, recorded the first 109 with the Canadiens. … The Maple Leafs are 3-for-40 on the power play over the last 10 games.

Puck Drop:
Phil Kessel fueled Toronto's fast start with 7 goals in his first eight games. Starting with an Oct. 28 contest in Boston against his former team, Kessel has gone without a point in the last seven games. The Leafs need to get him going if they want to avoid sinking back into the Northeast Division basement, their permanent home last season.

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