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Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Vancouver Canucks (32-18-7-3) at Minnesota Wild (20-22-16-2).

TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m. EST.

Dan Cloutier helped the Vancouver Canucks earn a crucial win in their last outing. The goaltender will try to lead his team to a second straight victory in a matchup with the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

Showing no ill effects from the flu that sidelined him in Vancouver's previous game, Cloutier made 23 saves Monday night for his fourth shutout of the season and 14th of his career as the Canucks beat the Colorado Avalanche 1-0.

In addition to ending a three-game losing streak, the Canucks' victory was important because it came against the first-place Avs. Vancouver had lost five of its previous six games (1-4-0-1) and had been struggling to keep up with Colorado in the Northwest Division.

"We haven't played very good the last few games," Cloutier said, "so it was definitely nice to come in here and get two points.

"I missed my last start because of the flu, but I skated this morning and felt all right. By game time I was feeling pretty good. Good enough to go."

Cloutier, who sat out Saturday's 2-1 home loss to Anaheim, should be feeling even better for Thursday's game after the Canucks got two full days off after Monday's win.

Daniel Sedin scored in the third period Monday as the Canucks at least temporarily slowed down the Avalanche, who suffered their first regulation loss in 13 games.

Vancouver has had problems offensively of late, with five goals in their last four games, and won't have their leading scorer in the lineup against the Wild.

Captain Markus Naslund suffered a concussion Monday on a hit by Colorado's Steve Moore, and was released from a Denver hospital Tuesday after spending the night for observation. He's out at least a week.

The Canucks conclude a three-game road trip Sunday night at Edmonton.

Minnesota earned an encouraging 4-4 road tie with New Jersey on Tuesday night, as Marian Gaborik recorded his sixth career three-goal game.

Gaborik gave Minnesota a 4-3 lead with a power-play goal at 12:12 of the third period, but Brian Gionta scored just 1:21 later for the Devils.

Sergei Zholtok scored for the sixth time in the last seven contests for Minnesota.

"Well, we scored goals," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "That's what people want. That's what we gave them."

The Wild, who traveled to New Jersey following a three-game homestand, return to Xcel Energy Center to face Northwest rivals Vancouver and Colorado. Minnesota is 3-2-1 in its last six.

STANDINGS (through Feb. 17): Canucks - 74 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Northwest Division. Wild - 58 points, 4th place, 20 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Naslund, 30 goals, 38 assists and 68 points; Jarkko Ruutu, 110 PIM. Wild - Zholtok, 13 goals; Andrew Brunette, 24 assists and 34 points; Matt Johnson, 134 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 17): Canucks - Power play: 16.2 percent (47 for 291), 13th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.1 percent (229 for 263), 1st. Wild - Power play: 14.2 percent (34 for 239), 25th. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (181 for 214), 15th.

GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Cloutier (24-16-3, 4 SO, 2.17 GAA); Alex Auld (2-1-2, 2.10). Wild - Dwayne Roloson (14-15-8, 4, 1.93); Manny Fernandez (6-9-8, 1, 2.44).


LAST MEETING: Dec. 6; 1-1 tie. At Vancouver, British Columbia, Trevor Linden scored with 2:52 left in regulation to give the Canucks the draw. Christoph Brandner scored early for the Wild and Roloson made 33 saves.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 18-8-2-3 on the road; Wild - 12-12-6-1 at home.

Associated Press
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