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Vancouver Canucks vs. Chicago Blackhawks

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GAME: Vancouver Canucks (37-23-10-4) at Chicago Blackhawks (19-38-9-6).

TIME: Friday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

Though the Vancouver Canucks made significant upgrades at the trade deadline, they can't hide from the fact that they miss Todd Bertuzzi.

The Canucks will try to rediscover their offense when they travel to Chicago to face the lowly Blackhawks.

Vancouver has scored just seven goals in winning one of five games (1-2-2) since Bertuzzi was suspended for the rest of the season for sucker-punching Colorado's Steve Moore on March 8.

The Canucks managed just 20 shots in Thursday's 3-0 loss in Dallas.

"We wanted to come in here, get a win and pick up two points, but we didn't play well enough to do that," Canucks goalie Dan Cloutier said.

Before his suspension, Bertuzzi had 60 points in 69 games, including 16 power-play points. Newly acquired Geoff Sanderson and Martin Rucinsky have combined for three goals and two assists in five games since coming over in separate trades prior.

But the Canucks have looked lost offensively, especially on the power play as they have converted just one of their last 30 opportunities, spanning eight games.

The Canucks blew an opportunity to make up ground on first-place Colorado in the Northwest Division as the Avalanche lost 2-0 in Ottawa on Thursday.

Johan Hedberg was in goal for the final 20 minutes on Thursday after Cloutier left with an injury after stopping 14 of 17 shots over the first two periods.

The Canucks would not be more specific about the injury to Cloutier, who will not start Friday at Chicago.

"It's not a severe injury, but it's enough to keep him out of the lineup," coach Marc Crawford said.

The Blackhawks are coming off a 3-2 loss to Carolina on Wednesday.

Tuumo Ruutu and Mark Bell scored for the Blackhawks, 1-6-2-1 in their last 10 games.

Goaltender Michael Leighton, who finished with 46 saves, is winless in his last seven games (0-6-1).

"I felt good, but the bottom line is we didn't win," Leighton said. "It didn't matter how I played."

Ruutu has nine goals and 11 assists in his last 14 games. Bell's goal was his first in six games and only his second in 12.

Chicago defenseman Steve Poapst returned Wednesday after missing 29 games because of a concussion, and was a minus-2 in a little less than 23 minutes.

STANDINGS (through March 17): Canucks - 88 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Northwest Division. Blackhawks - 53 points, 4th place, 43 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Markus Naslund, 32 goals, 45 assists and 77 points; Jarkko Ruutu, 131 PIM. Blackhawks - Kyle Calder, 21 goals; Tyler Arnason, 30 assists and 47 points; Travis Moen, 124 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 17): Canucks - Power play: 15.3 percent (53 for 346), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.9 percent (281 for 327), 3rd. Blackhawks - Power play: 15.1 percent (48 for 317), 21st. Penalty killing: 85.1 percent (286 for 335), 7th.

GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Cloutier (27-21-6, 4 SO, 2.39 GAA); Hedberg (8-5-2, 3, 2.29). Blackhawks - Leighton (5-18-6, 2, 3.07); Adam Munro (1-2-1, 0, 3.20).

SEASON SERIES: Canucks, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 27; Canucks, 3-2. At Vancouver, British Columbia, Magnus Arvedson scored twice and Daniel Sedin added two assists for the Canucks. Bell and Calder scored for the Blackhawks, who set a franchise record with their 18th straight road loss.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 20-11-3-4 on the road; Blackhawks - 12-14-5-5 at home.


Associated Press
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