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Rangers start Canadian road swing against Canucks

by Dave Lozo
RANGERS (0-1-2) at CANUCKS (2-2-1)


Season Series:
First and only meeting. Last season, the Rangers earned a 1-0 victory at Madison Square Garden to snap Vancouver's 17-game streak without a loss in regulation.

Big Story:
Both teams are looking for improved play, but the Rangers are in far greater need of a win as they start a four-game swing through Western Canada. The Canucks have scuffled a bit, but they will get Ryan Kesler back after he spent the first five games recovering from offseason hip surgery.

Team Scope:

Injuries and a lack of offense have been killers during the first three games. Defenseman Marc Staal (concussion) and Michael Sauer (shoulder) have missed three games and one game, respectively. Sauer was absent from the Rangers' 4-2 loss to the Islanders on Saturday, while Staal has no timetable for his return.

Offensively, it's been the Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik show, and not much else. They have 3 of the team's 5 goals and their 5 points are just two fewer than the rest of the team combined.

Coach John Tortorella, however, wouldn't put the loss to the Islanders (and their eight power plays) on their lengthy trip through Europe to start the season.

"There (are) no excuses here," Tortorella said. "We lost a hockey game. That team played better than us, they were more disciplined than us. I don't want to hear about Europe, I don't want to hear about if it's a penalty or not a penalty. We're not disciplined enough, and Europe has nothing to do with tonight's game."

After falling in a shootout to the Penguins in the opener, the Canucks split their four-game road trip that concluded with a 4-3 win in Edmonton. They overcame a 2-1 deficit and a hat trick by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to return home a .500 club.

"We find ways to win games," said Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who stopped 23 shots. "It's just that comfort level I think the guys have. Going into the third, no matter what the score is, we feel we can win."

Who's Hot:
Richards and Gaborik have meshed well, with a combined 5 points in 3 games. … Not surprisingly, the Sedin twins are leading the way for the Canucks with 2 goals and 5 assists for each.

Injury Report:
Staal and Sauer remain out for the Rangers. Defenseman Brendan Bell was recalled from the AHL and will likely take Sauer's spot in the lineup. … For the Canucks, defenseman Aaron Rome (hand) and right wing Byron Bitz (hip) are on injured reserve.

Stat Pack:
The Rangers haven't won a game in Vancouver since Oct. 11, 1997. In that game, Wayne Gretzky had his 50th career hat trick. Before that, the Rangers last won in Vancouver during the 1994 Stanley Cup Final.

Puck Drop: "In the third period, with the game on the line, I thought we played real well. We didn't give them anything and we got a few scoring chances and were able to score on one of them. I'm happy about that." -- Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, after beating the Oilers 4-3

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