GAME: Vancouver Canucks (30-15-7-3) at New Jersey Devils (28-13-10-1).
TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
A trip to the New York area has stalled the Vancouver Canucks' push for the
Northwest Division lead - and left them wondering what's going wrong.
The Canucks look to avoid being swept by the three area clubs when they take
on the New Jersey Devils at Continental Airlines Arena.
Vancouver, trailing Colorado by two points for first place in the Northwest,
rolled into New York City this week riding a five-game winning streak. But
things didn't go well for the Canucks in matchups with the Rangers and
Islanders on Monday and Tuesday.
Vancouver erased a two-goal deficit after two periods against the lowly
Rangers, only to lose 4-3 on Bobby Holik's goal with 2:41 remaining. The defeat
to the Islanders was even more heartbreaking, as the Canucks blew a 3-1 lead
with less than eight minutes left. Former Canuck Adrian Aucoin capped the
Isles' dramatic comeback with a power-play goal 36 seconds into overtime for a
"We played real well for 55 minutes," said Vancouver's Trevor Linden, who
was assessed a double minor penalty for high-sticking in the final minute of
regulation that led to Aucoin's goal. "I don't know if there's any way to
explain what happened at the end."
The Canucks, who led 2-0 in the second period on goals by rookie enforcers
Martin Grenier and Wade Brookbank, also got goals from Daniel Sedin and Henrik
The Canucks had won the first two contests on their five-game eastern swing
that concludes against New Jersey. Vancouver has still won 10 times in 13 road
"We managed to get a point from here, and even though it's not two, it's
fine," Canucks winger Todd Bertuzzi said after the loss to the Isles. "We
have a never-say-die attitude, and we showed that when we tied it."
Vancouver, though, will be trying to avoid a third straight loss against the
New York area's toughest club. New Jersey will be looking for its third win in
a row and eighth in 10 games as it closes the first half of its season.
The defending Stanley Cup champions, who continue to trail Philadelphia in
the Atlantic Division despite their recent hot streak, are coming off a 2-1
victory over Ottawa on Tuesday.
Patrik Elias and Jeff Friesen scored as the Devils rallied for their fourth
win in five home games. New Jersey improved to 14-8-3-1 at the Meadowlands.
Martin Brodeur, who will start in goal for the Eastern Conference in
Sunday's All-Star game, made 24 saves.
Brodeur is again among the NHL leaders in wins (25) and goals-against
average (1.89), and his 10 shutouts are six shy of breaking Tony Esposito's
34-year-old single-season, modern-era record. Brodeur has 74 career shutouts,
29 behind Terry Sawchuk's record-setting total.
"I love the game. That's it," he said. "Every time I go in the net, it's
just that little black puck trying to get through me. I block everything else
New Jersey defenseman Brian Rafalski will make his first All-Star appearance
this weekend. He was added to the East squad on Tuesday to replace teammate
Scott Stevens, who missed his 13th straight game due to illness.