Wild continue NHL odds road trip at Vancouver

By: Barry Daniels | Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Wild and Canucks have split their previous four meetings this season.

Suffering back-to-back 4-0 shutout losses is certainly not the way the Minnesota Wild wanted to begin a four-game road excursion. Things definitely won’t get any easier Monday night when the Wild continue their trip with a stop in Vancouver for a fifth matchup with the league-leading Canucks. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (PT).

The goal drought could not have occurred at a poorer time for a Minnesota team caught in a logjam for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.

Friday’s 4-0 setback at Dallas as 165 road underdogs lowered Minnesota’s ledger to 35-27-2-5 and left the club with 77 points. That’s four points out of the final playoff spot currently occupied by the Kings, Coyotes and Flames.

The fact that the Wild are eight games above .500 is pretty remarkable considering they have allowed eight more goals (184) than they have scored (176).

Minnesota surrendered three goals to Dallas in a span of 1:31 late in the second period. It was the quickest three goals the club has ever allowed on the road.

That was more than enough to put a fork in the Wild and extend the squad’s winless streak in Dallas to 0-10-4 since March 21, 2003.

Minnesota started its current four-game voyage last Thursday with a 4-0 shutout loss at Nashville, so the Wild have now suffered back-to-back shutout losses for the fourth time in team history and first time since 2003.

Both games to begin the trip dipped below the closing total, leaving the ‘under’ 37-27-5 in Minnesota’s first 69 contests. The two losses also lowered Minnesota’s road ledger to 18-14-1-2, which almost matches its 17-13-1-3 home mark.

Mikko Koivu (finger) and Cal Clutterbuck (upper body) still haven't returned to the Minnesota lineup. Guillaume Latendresse, three games into his comeback, suffered a lower body injury in Friday’s loss. All three players are listed as “questionable” on the Don Best Sports injury report.

Vancouver returns home after a wildly successful road trip that saw the club win all five games.

The expedition ended Saturday when the Canucks defeated Calgary as 120 road favorites, 4-3. The win gave Vancouver a league-leading 99 points and left them 29 games above .500.

Vancouver also leads the league in goals scored (229) and has the NHL’s best home ledger (23-7-1-4). The ‘under’ is 35-33-2 in Vancouver’s first 70 overall outings and 10-4 in its last 14 home dates.

Minnesota has split its first four meetings against Vancouver this season, with the ‘over/under’ also split. However, the ‘over’ is 7-2 in the last nine series matchups.

The Wild registered a 6-2 victory in the first matchup on Oct. 19 as 130 home underdogs thanks to going 3-for-3 on the power play. The Canucks went 1-for-6 with the man advantage and outshot the Wild, 27-24.

The two squads met three days later, with Vancouver notching a 5-1 victory as a hefty 215 home favorite. Both teams failed to score on the power play, with Vancouver getting five chances to Minnesota’s four. The Canucks again outshot the Wild, 35-24.

The third meeting (Jan. 16) saw the Wild blank the Canucks 4-0 as 130 home underdogs. Anton Khudobin, playing in just his second game of the season for the Wild, stopped 32 shots to register the win. Vancouver again held a 32-25 advantage in shots on goal.

Vancouver evened the season series on Feb. 15 with a 4-1 victory as a 105 road underdog despite getting outshot, 29-14. Both teams notched a power play goal.

Monday’s goalie matchup figures to be Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom against Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo. Backstrom is 21-17-0-4 with a 2.39 GAA and .924 save percentage. Luongo is 32-13-2-5 with a 2.24 GAA and .924 save percentage.

Minnesota concludes its tough four-game road journey Thursday at San Jose against the Sharks. Vancouver stays home for a Wednesday meeting against the Colorado Avalanche.

 
 
 
 
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