Wild-Canucks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 03, 2012
While the overall performance of the Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks hasn't left much to be desired, coach Alain Vigneault voiced displeasure with his team's recent efforts on the power play. Those scuffles, though, pale in comparison to the Minnesota Wild's struggles of late. Hoping to avoid a 10th defeat in 11 games overall, the Wild look to snap a nine-game losing streak in Vancouver on Wednesday night. Minnesota (21-13-6) sat in first place in the division as recently as Dec. 26 but has since fallen three points behind Vancouver (24-13-3) thanks to an ugly offensive display. The Wild have posted just 16 goals during a 1-6-3 stretch, and 48 hours after ending a season-worst eight-game slide with a 4-3 win over Edmonton, saw their struggles continue Saturday with a 4-2 loss to Phoenix. "Emotional or not, we have to come to the rink and be ready to go and play a certain way," coach Mike Yeo said. "We don't have a choice. We're not going to go in and just drop our sticks and win hockey games." With a three-day break between games, Minnesota tried to work out its kinks and enters this matchup with plenty of optimism. "System wise we were in good position and had pretty good focus on a couple of the areas we've concentrated on the last couple of days," Yeo told the team's official website. "Definitely like to see us carry that into (Wednesday)." Doing that, however, could prove difficult given the Wild's recent play in Vancouver. Minnesota has been outscored 35-14 during an 0-7-2 stretch at Rogers Arena. The Canucks, who have converted 12 of 28 power-play opportunities (42.9 percent) during their last seven home games versus the Wild, have to like their chances of picking up the pace with the man advantage. Vancouver scored one power-play goal in six chances during Monday's 3-2 shootout loss to San Jose. The Canucks lead the league with 37 power-play goals but have just two in their last 21 opportunities. "Our execution may be a tad off and when you're a tad off, with the quality of goaltending and quality of penalty killing in this league it's challenging," Vigneault said. "These guys have my total confidence that we're going to get back to the level we expect on the power play." The Canucks also fell 4-1 at Los Angeles on Saturday and haven't lost three straight since an 0-1-3 skid last Jan. 16-22. Roberto Luongo made 33 saves Monday, dropping to 5-1-1 with a 1.55 goals-against average over his last seven home starts. Included in that stretch is a 33-save shutout of Minnesota on Dec. 19. Luongo hasn't allowed a goal in his last 135:23 versus the Wild. He's gone 8-0-1 with a 1.66 GAA and three shutouts against them at home since the start of 2008-09. Minnesota's Devin Setoguchi (lower body injury) was activated from injured reserve Tuesday after missing the previous 12 games. Setoguchi and fellow forward Casey Wellman (upper body injury), who was also activated, are likely to be available Wednesday. "(Setoguchi) brings that fire and he's got a good attitude," Cullen said. "He brings a lot of offensive ability." Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom, 1-5-2 with a 2.96 GAA over his last eight games, is 0-4-1 with a 3.78 GAA in his last five meetings with Vancouver.
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