Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 10pm EST Rogers Arena
The Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks most recent meeting came on December 19th, in Vancouver, when the Canucks blanked the Wild 4-0. Roberto Luongo stopped 33 shots en route to his first shutout of the season for the Canucks. Henrik Sedin scored a goal and had two assists, while brother Daniel Sedin recorded three assists in the game.
The Wild team is coming off a home ice 4-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday, December 31st. The loss went to Niklas Backstrom who is now 1-5-2 with a 2.96 GAA over his last eight games. Pierre-Marc Bouchard, the hottest offensive player for the Wild of late, scored his ninth goal of the season. The goal was Bouchard’s third in his last four games played.
The Canucks are coming off a 3-2 loss against the San Jose Sharks in Vancouver. Jannik Hansen scored his 12th goal of the season in the first period while Cody Hodgson scored his ninth of the season in the third period to tie the game. There was no scoring in the overtime period, so the teams went to a shootout. San Jose prevailed for the road victory.
Minnesota’s Devin Setoguchi was activated on Tuesday after missing the previous 12 games. In addition, Casey Wellman has also been activated and could see action versus the Canucks.
Vancouver has outscored Minnesota 35-14 during the last nine contests at Rogers Arena.
A victory in tonight’s battle could bring Minnesota to within a point of Vancouver for the lead in the Northwest Division. A victory would also boost the Wild’s confidence, which they currently lack, and prove they can play at the same level as the top-tier teams like Vancouver. While there are plenty of games yet to play, this game could solidify Vancouver as the team to beat in the division. On the other hand, a Wild victory could give fans some hope that the team is worthy of a playoff spot.
Keys to the game:
– If Backstrom is in goal tonight, he is 0-4-1 with a 3.78 GAA in his last five meetings with Vancouver.
– Roberto Luongo has not allowed a goal in his last 135.23 minutes versus the Wild. He has gone 8-0-1 with three shutouts at home versus Wild.
– Vancouver’s power play has converted nearly 43% of their man advantage opportunities.
– The Wild are expecting to have Devin Setoguchi and Casey Wellman available tonight, but will they play.
Prediction – The Wild will not get shutout as they did in the December matchup, but the Wild have struggled horribly against Vancouver. Canucks win a tight battle 2-1.