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Wild Attempt To Right Themselves Against NHL-Best Canucks

(Sports Network) - The mighty Vancouver Canucks will aim for their 20th win in 25 games when they visit the struggling Minnesota Wild for this evening's Northwest Division clash at Xcel Energy Center.

The Canucks lead the entire NHL with 64 points this season and Alain Vigneault's club has 19 wins over its last 24 games, dating back to late- November.

Vancouver also has just one regulation loss over its last 19 games, posting a 15-1-3 record over that span. The lone regulation setback during that stretch came Thursday in New York, but the Canucks were able to get back in the win column the following night in Washington.

The Canucks dropped a 1-0 decision to the Rangers, but responded with Friday's victory in D.C. Daniel Sedin scored what proved to be the game-winner in the second period and added an empty-net goal in the third as Vancouver held on for the 4-2 win over the Capitals at Verizon Center.

Christian Ehrhoff and Alexander Edler each had a goal and an assist for the Canucks and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots in the win.

"I thought our defense played really well tonight," said Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault. "Coming off back-to-back nights we needed a good night from our defense cause this is a high-scoring team we faced here. I thought tonight we played real strong 5-on-5 and got a power-play goal. We found a way to get it done."

The Canucks are playing the fourth test on a five-game road trip this evening. Vancouver, which had a five-game road losing streak snapped by the Rangers on Thursday, is 14-6-3 as the guest this season and will complete its current swing Tuesday night in Colorado.

Minnesota, meanwhile, began January with four straight wins, but has since dropped three in a row. The Wild's most recent setback came Friday night against the visiting Colorado Avalanche, who received 32 saves from Craig Anderson in the 4-1 win at Xcel Energy Center.

Andrew Brunette scored the lone goal for Minnesota, which has been outscored by a 13-2 margin during its three-game slide.

"There were a lot of scrambles around the [Colorado] net, where we just couldn't get our stick on [the puck]," said Minnesota forward John Madden.

With No. 1 goaltender Niklas Backstrom and backup Jose Theodore battling hip injuries, Anton Khudobin made his second career NHL start for the Wild and allowed three goals on 17 shots.

However, Backstrom could get the start tonight after practicing with the team on Saturday. Backstrom, who hasn't played since suffering the hip injury on New Year's Eve, will at least serve as the backup to Khudobin tonight after rookie goaltender Matt Hackett was reassigned Saturday to the club's AHL affiliate in Houston.

The Wild have dropped two straight and three of their last four home games and Minnesota is just 10-11-2 in St. Paul this season.

The Canucks and Wild, who are separated by 17 points in the Northwest standings, have split a pair of games so far this year. Both of those meetings came in the first month of the season with Minnesota posting a 6-2 home win on Oct. 19 and the Canucks recording a 5-1 win three days later in Vancouver.

Vancouver has taken two of three and seven out of 10 overall from the Wild, but the Canucks have dropped three straight in St. Paul.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.