Series (Game 1 of 6)

Vancouver leads 4-2

Game 1: Saturday, October 17th
Game 2: Thursday, November 5th
Game 3: Saturday, December 12th
Game 4: Wednesday, January 13th
Game 5: Sunday, February 14th
Game 6: Sunday, April 4th

Wild 1

(1-6-0, 2 pts)

Canucks 2

(3-4-0, 6 pts)

Coverage: CBC

10:00 PM ET, October 17, 2009

Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

1 2 3 T
MIN 1 0 01
VAN 0 1 12

N. Backstrom (Wild - G): Saves: 37, Save Pct.: .949

R. Kesler (Canucks - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

M. Raymond (Canucks - LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Wild-Canucks Preview


The Minnesota Wild are playing a more wide-open version of hockey under first-year coach Todd Richards than they have in recent years, but so far it's not producing positive results.

The Wild have yet to come away with a point in five road games, but they'll look to salvage something from the finale of their five-game swing Saturday night against the also-struggling Vancouver Canucks.

Minnesota lost the only coach in franchise history when Jacques Lemaire resigned at the end of the 2008-09 season. The club, though, was promised an up-tempo style when it hired Richards after years of the trapping, disciplined style employed by Lemaire.

So far, all it's earned the Wild (1-5-0) is last place in the Northwest Division as they've been outscored 23-14. Minnesota's poor start is in sharp contrast to the beginning of every other season since the lockout when it went 6-0-0 in 2005-06, 7-0-1 in 2007-08 and 6-0-1 last season.

The Wild fell to 0-4 on their road trip Friday with a 5-2 loss to Edmonton. Backup goaltender Josh Harding lost his second start of the season, leaving him with a 5.50 goals-against average.

"There were a lot of good things in the game, it's just those mistakes," Richards said. "We are making a lot of big mistakes. I know it is a loss. We have one game left in this road trip and we have to try to build off of positive things. We'll get over this and we will win these type of games in the future."

The Wild played without oft-injured free agent addition Martin Havlat, who had a goal and four assists in his first five games, but is day to day with a groin injury.

One bright spot for Minnesota has been its power play, which is 8 for 29 (27.6 percent) and has scored at least once in four of five games. Andrew Brunette scored with the man advantage against the Oilers, giving him a team-high five goals -- three on the power play.

Brunette was limited to one assist in six games versus Vancouver (2-4-0) last season while Mikko Koivu scored four goals.

The Canucks have been excellent on the power play as well so far, converting 8 of 24 (33.3 percent) chances. Vancouver, however, has struggled stopping anyone with the man advantage. It's allowed at least one power-play goal in each game, and fell behind 5-0 Friday in Calgary before scoring three third-period goals to leave with a 5-3 loss.

Roberto Luongo was pulled for the second time this season, and the Canucks captain is 2-4-0 with a 3.87 GAA.

"No one in here is blaming Luongo," forward Ryan Kesler said. "He's a great goaltender and we gave up too many grade A chances."

Luongo was 3-0-1 with a 1.72 GAA in four starts against the Wild in 2008-09, and Vancouver went 5-0-1 overall in the season series, outscoring them 16-10.

Henrik Sedin contributed on more than half of those goals, scoring once and assisting on eight others. The goal came in overtime of a 2-1 victory at Minnesota on March 31, and was Sedin's first against the Wild in 27 games.

Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom, who's expected to be back in net Saturday, is 8-5-4 with a 2.24 GAA in his career against Vancouver.