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Wild continue drive toward playoffs vs. Canucks

by Dan Myers

CANUCKS (33-30-10) at WILD (37-24-11)


Last 10: Vancouver 5-5-0; Minnesota 3-3-4

Season series: The Minnesota Wild are 2-0-0 against the Vancouver Canucks this season, winning each in a shootout. The Wild have won the past four games in the series dating to last season.

Big story: The Canucks have won back-to-back games and trail the Wild by nine points in the Western Conference wild-card race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Minnesota holds the top wild-card spot with 85 points; the Canucks must catch and pass the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes for the second spot.

Team Scope:

Canucks: Vancouver’s efforts to make a late run to the playoffs have been made more difficult in recent days. Despite winning their past two games and three of their past four, the Canucks have gained no ground because the teams in front of them are keeping pace. The Coyotes have taken nine of 12 possible points in their past six games, and the Stars won two in a row before losing 4-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.

“Everybody’s looking at the standings; we are too,” Canucks coach John Tortorella said. “All we can do is control what we have. We’re going to keep trying to battle away and find points.”

Wild: The game against the Canucks is one of two at home in a 10-game, 20-day span between March 16 and April 4. The Wild are 23-8-5 at home this season and 7-1-3 in their past 11 games at Xcel Energy Center. Coach Mike Yeo gave the players Monday off and followed with an optional practice Tuesday, so the Wild should be well-rested. Minnesota finished a stretch of five games in seven nights on Sunday and begins a four-in-six stretch Wednesday.

“It’s not just physical, it’s emotional and mental,” Yeo said. “Based on the schedule we’ve had and the schedule we have coming up, we deemed that this was our one opportunity to try to put a little extra back in the tank and get ready for this final push.”

Who’s hot: Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack has allowed two goals in his past two starts, including a 30-save shutout March 19 against the Nashville Predators. Lack has started one game against the Wild this season, stopping 22 of 23 shots in a seven-round shootout loss Feb. 28 at Rogers Arena. … After scoring one goal in 23 games, Wild forward Charlie Coyle has thrived since Yeo inserted him on the second line with Matt Moulson and Mikko Koivu on Saturday. Coyle scored the tying goal in the third period each of the past two games and assisted on another goal Sunday in a 4-3 come-from-behind win against the Detroit Red Wings.

Injury report: Canucks forward Henrik Sedin (leg) is not on the trip. Forward Alexandre Burrows (hand) is. Forward Mike Santorelli (season-ending shoulder surgery) and defenseman Andrew Alberts (concussion) are out. … Wild forward Jason Zucker (leg), goaltenders Josh Harding (illness) and Niklas Backstrom (abdominal), and defensemen Clayton Stoner (knee) and Keith Ballard (groin) are out.

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