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Northwest-leading Canucks visit Red Wings

by Brian Hunter

CANUCKS (10-3-4) at RED WINGS (8-7-3)


Last 10: Vancouver 7-1-2; Detroit 4-4-2

Season series: First of three meetings. They split four games on the 2011-12 schedule, each team winning once at home and once in its opponent's building via the shootout.

Big story: Despite a rash of injuries this season and a recent five-game losing streak, the Red Wings are hanging tight in the Western Conference playoff race. The Canucks have recently been bolstered by the returns of Ryan Kesler and David Booth, and while the early surges by the Blackhawks and Ducks dominate the headlines, they're chugging right along atop the Northwest Division standings.

Team Scope:

Canucks: Roberto Luongo turned in a vintage performance Friday night in a 1-0 win over one of the NHL's stingiest teams in Nashville. For over 49 minutes the Canucks couldn't break through against Pekka Rinne, but the fourth line eventually cashed in as Dale Weise converted the rebound of a Maxim Lapierre shot at 9:14 of the third period for the game's only goal. Luongo finished with 23 saves and recorded his 62nd career shutout.

"This was our third game in four nights on the road with a tremendous amount of traveling and late nights," coach Alain Vigneault said. "I had to play four lines. We did. We got a lot out of our people in the second and the third. [Luongo] gave us the chance for us to get our legs and get our energy."

Red Wings: With several regulars up front having to be replaced in recent weeks by call-ups from its American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids, secondary scoring has become a necessity for Detroit to put wins together. The Red Wings got just that Saturday night against the Predators, as Drew Miller, Tomas Tatar and Daniel Cleary all lit the lamp along with defenseman Niklas Kronwall, and Jimmy Howard made 33 saves in a 4-0 victory that snapped their skid.

"He was really good early when the game was right on the line," coach Mike Babcock said. "They were better than us early, and he was good. Really good for him but more importantly, good for us. We needed the win."

Who's hot: Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis drew the secondary assist on Wiese's goal and has a helper in three straight games. … Pavel Datsyuk has five goals and five assists in his last seven games for the Red Wings. Kronwall had a pair of assists Saturday for a three-point night.

Injury report: Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa (groin) is day-to-day. … Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey (leg) is day-to-day. Forward Mikael Samuelsson (finger) is out at least two weeks. Defensemen Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Brendan Smith (shoulder) and forwards Darren Helm (back), Todd Bertuzzi (back) and Johan Franzen (hip) are on injured reserve.

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