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Rare start for Schneider as Canucks host Bolts

by Brian Hunter /
LIGHTNING (15-10-4) at CANUCKS (15-8-3)


Last 10:
Tampa Bay 5-3-2; Vancouver 5-4-1

Season series: This is the only meeting between these teams on the 2010-11 schedule. Martin St. Louis scored a pair of third-period goals -- the decisive one coming shorthanded -- and Steven Stamkos also tallied in Tampa Bay's 3-1 win over Vancouver in the most recent matchup, Feb. 9 at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Big story: With the Canucks scheduled to play again Sunday in Edmonton, goalie Roberto Luongo will get a rare off night and Cory Schneider will make just his fourth start of the season. He's 3-0-1 in six total appearances with a 2.08 goals-against average and .936 save percentage, excellent numbers.

"The past couple of days they hinted that this is the plan for now," Schneider said. "I think he wants to save Lui for divisional games and make sure we create some distance in the division. Tampa's a great team from the East and we're excited to play them since we don't see them that often."
Team Scope:

A three-game road trip through western Canada comes to an end for Tampa Bay, which could salvage three out of a possible six points by beating Vancouver. The Lightning got a point on Friday night in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Oilers. They trailed 3-2 entering the third period but enjoyed a 17-1 advantage in shots over the final 20 minutes of regulation and Stamkos netted the tying goal with 8:27 left, snapping a six-game drought with his 22nd of the season.

"It's my first little slump, hopefully it's the last," he said. "But it's going to happen. Every player goes through it once in a while, I'd rather get it out of the way in the first half of the season and bear down in the next couple games."

This is the finale of a three-game homestand for Vancouver. After the Canucks' four-game winning streak came to an end against the Blues on Sunday, they rallied Wednesday for a 5-4 shootout victory over the Ducks. Trailing 4-2 in the third period, Daniel Sedin scored a power-play goal with 7:18 remaining and Ryan Kesler forced overtime by netting his second of the night with 21.5 seconds left. Jeff Tambellini's shootout goal completed the Canucks' first comeback this season when trailing after two periods.

"It was a good challenge for our group," said Tambellini, who also scored in regulation. "We came in here after two down one and I don’t think we'd come back this year and we wanted to know that can do it and we have a solid group of guys and there was no panic on our bench, so a lot of credit goes to our group."

Who's hot: Ryan Malone has 4 goals and 4 assists during a six-game points streak for the Lightning. … Sedin has 3 goals and 5 assists during a six-game points streak for the Canucks. Tambellini has 3 goals and 3 assists in six games since returning to the lineup on Nov. 24.

Injury report:
Tampa Bay forward Mattias Ritola missed Friday's game due to illness. Forwards Vincent Lecavalier (hand) and Steve Downie (ankle) are on injured reserve.

Vancouver lost forward Mason Raymond to a broken thumb and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff after he took a puck off his ear against Anaheim. They're already missing defenseman Sami Salo (Achilles) and forward Peter Schaefer (undisclosed). On the bright side, forward Mikael Samuelsson appears ready to return after a concussion and forward Guillaume Desbiens has recovered from a broken hand. Defenseman Ryan Parent was also recalled after a conditioning assignment with AHL Manitoba.

Stat pack:
Stamkos has 22 goals this season, four behind Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead. … The Canucks are 10-1-1 with Tambellini in the lineup this season and 5-0-0 when he scores a goal. They are 9-0-0 when Kesler tallies.

Puck drop:
Vancouver will raise Markus Naslund's number to the rafters prior to Saturday's game. Naslund scored a franchise-record 346 goals for the team. A first-round pick by Pittsburgh in the 1991 Entry Draft, Naslund began his career with 25 goals in 151 games for the Penguins and finished it with 24 goals for the New York Rangers in the 2008-09 season.

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