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Northwest rivals meet as Wild host Canucks

by Mike G. Morreale
CANUCKS (2-2-1) at WILD (1-2-1)


Season series --
The Canucks came away with four victories in the six-game series in 2009-10. This will be the first meeting between the Northwest Division rivals in 2010-11 and marks the third game of the season for Minnesota in North America after beginning the year with back-to-back losses to the Carolina Hurricanes in Helsinki, Finland.

Big story -- Canucks backup goalie Cory Schneider earned his first win in 22 months on Sunday in a 5-1 verdict over the Carolina Hurricanes. While the decision to sit All-Star goalie Roberto Luongo (1-2-1, 2.46 GAA, .920 save percentage) is never an easy one, coach Alain Vigneault had perhaps an easy call after Luongo was victimized for eight goals in losses to Anaheim and Los Angeles in the previous two games. Schneider, a former first-round pick who spent most of his first three seasons in the American Hockey League, made 32 saves in the victory.

"For me to get a win and get some confidence from my teammates and the coaching staff is big," Schneider told reporters after the game.

Team Scope:

Canucks --
The night of firsts didn't end with Schneider's first start of the season between the pipes on Sunday as Andrew Alberts, Ryan Kesler and Mikael Samuelsson each scored their first goal of the season, and Mason Raymond connected for his first two during the team's 5-1 victory over Carolina. Raymond was moved to right wing against Carolina alongside Daniel and Henrik Sedin on the team's top line. He scored his first of the season on the power play midway through the first and added another off a feed from Daniel Sedin 6:25 into the third, giving Vancouver a 4-1 lead.

Wild -- Minnesota is coming off a 3-2 setback to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday -- the game-winner a shorthanded goal by R.J. Umberger midway through the third period. There was a bit of controversy on the winner after Umberger had jammed at the puck at the far post before pointing at the goal and celebrating with teammates. Following a video review, the referee confirmed that a goal had been scored.

"I don't think it was in," goalie Niklas Backstrom said after the game. "I think it was under my stomach the whole time. I got up, and it went under my pad, and at that point it hadn't crossed the line (before the whistle)."

Coach Todd Richards said his team had no one to blame but themselves: "We got what we deserved," he said during his post-game press conference.

Who's hot --
The Sedin twins have gotten off to a great start for the Canucks through the opening five games. Center Henrik, who notched two assists on Sunday, has 7 helpers for the season while Daniel has produced 4 goals and 7 points.

Injury report --
The Wild are without right wing Pierre-Marc Bouchard (post-concussion syndrome), center James Sheppard (broken kneecap) and goalie Josh Harding (torn MCL/ACL). … The Canucks' injury list includes forwards Alexandre Bolduc (ankle sprain) and Alexandre Burrows (shoulder) and defensemen Keith Ballard (concussion) and Sami Salo (Achilles tendon tear).

Stat pack --
The longest active sellout streak in the NHL ended Saturday when the Wild failed to sell out the first regular-season home game in franchise history (against Columbus), which encompasses 10 seasons. Minnesota had sold out 370 straight regular-season games -- the crowd Saturday was announced at 17,339.

Puck drop -- Minnesota wing Martin Havlat, who is playing on a line with center Matt Cullen and Cal Clutterbuck, has 3 assists in four games for the Wild. Richards feels it's only a matter of time before he begins putting the puck in the net with regularity.

"I said where he's at this year compared to where he was at last year, he's light years ahead and, 'Don't get frustrated, don't get down about not putting up the points that you want,' " Richards said.

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