Canucks-Blue Jackets Preview
GAME: Vancouver Canucks (35-20-8-4) at Columbus Blue Jackets (20-35-8-4).
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
Dan Cloutier and the Vancouver Canucks look to salvage the finale of their
three-game road trip as they travel to Nationwide Arena to take on the Columbus
Vancouver, which began the trip with a 5-5 tie at Colorado on Wednesday,
dropped a 3-1 decision at Detroit on Friday night. The Canucks are just 4-5-1-1
in their last 11 games, and Cloutier has been part of the problem, allowing 24
goals in his last eight games (3-4-1) with .882 save percentage.
"We haven't played very good the last few games," Cloutier said.
Perhaps Cloutier can bounce back against Columbus. He owns a 1.97 career
goals-against average in eight games against the Blue Jackets, posting a 5-2-1
mark in those contests.
Columbus is coming off a 4-2 loss at Dallas on Wednesday despite Rick Nash's
35th and 36th goals of the season. Nash established a new franchise record for
goals in a season, breaking the record of 34 set by Geoff Sanderson last year.
The Blue Jackets had a three-game winning streak snapped, but did get some
good news Thursday as an NHL arbitrator ruled that forward Nikolai Zherdev can
remain with the Blue Jackets.
Zherdev's former club in Russia, CSKA Moscow, claimed he was still obligated
to serve in the military there. The fourth overall pick in the 2003 draft,
Zherdev has played in 42 games for the Blue Jackets this season, scoring seven
goals and adding 11 assists.
"This has been a difficult few months for Nikolai, but he is to be
commended for the way he has handled everything," Columbus president and
general manager Doug MacLean said.
STANDINGS: Canucks - 82 points, 2nd place, 3 PB, Northwest Division. Blue
Jackets - 52 points, 4th place, 37 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Markus Naslund, 31 goals, 42 assists and 73 points;
Jarkko Ruutu, 116 PIM. Blue Jackets - Nash, 36 goals and 50 points; David
Vyborny, 29 assists; Jody Shelley, 175 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 4):
GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Cloutier (26-18-4, 4 SO, 2.32 GAA); Johan Hedberg
(7-4-2, 2, 2.24). Blue Jackets - Marc Denis (17-28-7, 4, 2.54); Fred Brathwaite
(3-9-1, 0, 3.38).
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Oct. 28; Canucks, 6-3. At Vancouver, Markus Naslund had two
goals and two assists as the Canucks evened the season series, avenging a 3-2
loss in Columbus on Oct. 13.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 18-10-3-4 on the road; Blue Jackets - 15-13-4-2