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Wild-Canucks Preview @NHL
Wild-Canucks Preview

GAME: Minnesota Wild (6-5-2) at Vancouver Canucks (8-2-2).

TIME: Wednesday, 10 p.m. EST.

The Vancouver Canucks were one of the league's hottest teams until they left Colorado with two losses and without No. 1 goaltender Dan Cloutier.

Backup goalie Alex Auld will be in net for the Canucks as they try to remain perfect at home in their third meeting this season with the Minnesota Wild.

Vancouver had outscored opponents 28-14 during a six-game win streak before losing back-to-back road games - one in overtime - against the Avalanche.

The two meetings were far from ordinary regular-season contests because Thursday's game marked Todd Bertuzzi's first appearance in Denver since he broke the neck of Avalanche forward Steve Moore during a game in Vancouver in 2004.

Bertuzzi, booed every time he touched the puck, had no goals and two assists in the two games.

Canucks coach Marc Crawford said Bertuzzi played better on Saturday than he did on Thursday, when he looked passive.

"He was stronger with the puck and took it to the net a little bit better," Crawford said. "He and the whole team was better and more assertive."

Even more damaging than losing the two games was a concussion sustained by Cloutier in Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss.

Cloutier was dazed after hitting his head on the goalpost following a collision with Colorado's Andrew Brunette midway through the first period and was forced to leave the game. Under NHL guidelines, Cloutier must be symptom-free for a week before he can return.

Auld has performed well when called upon this season, going 3-0-1 with a 2.25 goals-against average. He was in net for a 3-1 victory at Minnesota on Oct. 25.

"They're a team that really preys on turnovers and mistakes, you have to be really sharp and play as close to as perfect a game as you can against a team like that," Auld said of the Wild. "They have great speed and they capitalize on every mistake you make."

Vancouver, which has outscored opponents 23-12 during its 5-0 home start, will be without another key player for a while after left wing Matt Cooke suffered a fractured jaw in practice Tuesday. Cooke, who has five points in 12 games, is out indefinitely.

Minnesota opened a four-game road trip Tuesday with a 3-0 loss at Calgary, its fourth defeat in five games.

Though they were shut out for the first time this season, the Wild have struggled offensively of late. Since matching a season high with six goals in a win over San Jose on Oct. 19, they have been limited to eight goals in six games.

Wednesday's game will be the fourth set of back-to-back games this season for the Wild, who are 0-1-2 in the second game thus far.

STANDINGS: Wild - 14 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Northwest Division. Canucks - 18 points, 1st place, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Wild - Marc Chouinard, 6 goals; Todd White and Alexandre Daigle, 7 assists; Chouinard, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and White, 11 points; Derek Boogaard, 25 PIM. Canucks - Markus Naslund, 7 goals and 14 points; Bertuzzi and Ed Jovanovski, 8 assists; Mattias Ohlund, 26 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Wild - Power play: 22.3 percent (15 for 67), 5th in NHL. Penalty killing: 92.3 percent (72 for 78), tied for 1st. Canucks - Power play: 16.1 percent (15 for 93), 21st. Penalty killing: 77.4 percent (55 for 71), 25th.

GOALTENDERS: Wild - Manny Fernandez (4-2-1, 0 SO, 1.70 GAA); Dwayne Roloson (2-3-1, 1, 2.31). Canucks - Auld (3-0-1, 2.25); Rob McVicar (no appearances).


LAST MEETING: Oct. 25; Canucks, 3-1. At St. Paul, Minn., Naslund snapped a tie early in the second period and Auld made 27 saves to lead the Canucks to their sixth straight win.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wild - 1-3-2 on the road; Canucks - 5-0-0 at home.

Associated Press
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