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Jets, Canucks seek slump-busting victory

by Tal Pinchevsky

CANUCKS (29-28-10) at JETS (30-28-8)


Last 10: Vancouver 2-7-1; Winnipeg 4-3-3

Season series: In their third and final game, the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets are both desperately seeking points in the Western Conference standings. The home team has taken the previous two games, with Vancouver winning 2-1 on Dec. 22 and Winnipeg 4-3 on Jan. 31.

Big story: Both teams have struggled of late and will need to turn things around to revive any hopes of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Winnipeg has lost four in a row and Vancouver has dropped five of six. Both are coming off disappointing losses, with Vancouver looking to move past one of the worst third periods in modern NHL history.

Team Scope:

Canucks: After dropping four straight and trading No. 1 goalie Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers at the NHL Trade Deadline, the Canucks appeared to overcome some of the adversity plaguing the club when they beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 on Saturday night. That turnaround continued Monday night when they took a 3-0 lead into the third period at home against the New York Islanders.

The Islanders proceeded to score seven goals in the third period, almost matching their total from their three previous games combined, to beat the Canucks 7-4. It was a late-game collapse that had Vancouver coach John Tortorella vexed.

"As a coach, this is my responsibility," Tortorella said after practice Tuesday. "I'm going to try to turn this around."

Goaltender Eddie Lack won't get much rest after allowing six goals on 14 third-period shots against the Islanders. He will be back in net for Vancouver, with recent acquisition Jacob Markstrom serving as backup.

Forward Zack Kassian will be serving the final game of a three-game suspension.

Jets: Winnipeg started 9-2-0 after replacing coach Claude Noel with Paul Maurice. That run catapulted the Jets into playoff contention, but they've struggled to maintain that pace, earning one regulation win in six games since the end of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

They competed hard against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night but fell 3-2 in overtime on Matt Duchene's goal scored off a broken play in front of the Winnipeg net. The loss was Winnipeg's fourth in a row, their longest such streak since a five-game skid in early January that led to Noel's firing.

"A little bad luck in front of our net with the puck and it's in the back," Maurice said. "There were a lot of good things. Penalty-killing is good. We just wish it didn't have to be so good so often."

Maurice has praised his fifth-ranked penalty kill of late, but his fear the unit may be overworked is warranted. Only three teams have been shorthanded more times this season than the Jets.

Who's hot: Canucks defenseman Yannick Weber has points in his past two games. Forward Shawn Matthias has one point in three games since arriving as part of the Luongo trade, but has six points in his past five games. … Jets forward Dustin Byfuglien scored twice against Colorado and has three goals and four points in his past two games. Center Bryan Little has four points in his past four games.

Injury report: The Canucks are missing forwards Daniel Sedin (hamstring), Brad Richardson (undisclosed) and Mike Santorelli (shoulder) as well as defenseman Andrew Alberts (concussion). Defenseman Ryan Stanton (undisclosed) has missed three games but skated with the team Tuesday. … For the Jets, forwards Mark Scheifele (knee), John Albert (upper body) and James Wright (ankle) are out, as is defenseman Grant Clitsome (back).

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