Canucks-Blue Jackets Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 09, 2011
The Vancouver Canucks appear to be facing the right opponent as they begin their first road trip of the season. The Canucks have won seven straight over the Columbus Blue Jackets, who will try to avoid the worst start in franchise history Monday night. Vancouver (0-0-1) will be hoping to erase the memories of its final three road games last season, in which it was outscored 17-3 in losses at Boston in the Stanley Cup final. As they begin a four-game trip, the Canucks try to extend their longest win streak over Columbus (0-2-0). Special teams have played a key role during the seven-game run, with Vancouver going 7 for 29 on the power play and limiting the Blue Jackets to one goal in 26 chances. There's room for improvement for Vancouver after Thursday's 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh in its opener. The Canucks gave up two power-play goals in the first period and failed to score on their three opportunities for the game. "I think we'll be fine there on the PK, there's no way to panic yet," left wing Alex Burrows said. "We're going to get better." Daniel Sedin had a goal and an assist and Henrik Sedin added two assists for the Canucks, who went 0-3-1 in their first four road games last season. Keith Ballard had an impressive season debut, scoring for the first time since Dec. 11. "We encourage our defense, when the opportunity is there, when the space is there, they have got to get up on the play, and Keith is no different from any one of our defensemen," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We want him to support the attack." Roberto Luongo made 25 saves for Vancouver. Luongo has not started the Canucks' last five games at Columbus, and he's 1-4-0 with a 2.84 goals-against average in five career starts at Nationwide Arena. Expectations are high for the Blue Jackets to make the playoffs for the second time after they acquired Jeff Carter from Philadelphia and Vinny Prospal as a free agent in the offseason. Carter has paid immediate dividends with a team-high three assists while Prospal has a goal and an assist. Columbus, however, is looking to avoid its first-ever three-game skid to start the season after failing to score on the power play in its first two contests for the first time. The Blue Jackets are 0 for 11 after they came up empty on six chances in Saturday's 4-2 loss at Minnesota. "We were as flat as flat can be," coach Scott Arniel said. Steve Mason was replaced by Curtis Sanford after he allowed all four goals on 23 shots through two periods Saturday. Mason has a 4.24 GAA. "I don't see any reason to panic or anything," Mason said. "We had a great preseason, and we just need to stick to what we've been doing." Star winger Rick Nash was held without a point after he had one goal and one assist in Friday's 3-2 home defeat to Nashville. Nash has no points in his last five games against the Canucks.
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