Canucks trying to survive goaltending problems

Vancouver (20-15-3) at Nashville (17-16-3), 7:00 pm, EST

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) — Goaltending was not a position
the Vancouver Canucks needed to worry about entering the season,
but it has rapidly become a point of concern.

The Canucks are expected to turn to a new face in net Thursday
when they visit the Nashville Predators.

The team has been without All-Star netminder Roberto Luongo
since the team captain went down with a groin injury on November
22. With Curtis Sanford and rookie Cory Schneider filling in,
the Canucks have gone 7-9-1.

Sanford had seen the majority of action in Luongo’s absence, but
he suffered a groin strain of his own in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to
Philadelphia and was placed on the injured list immediately
after the game.

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With Luongo about three weeks away from returning, the Canucks
acted swiftly late Tuesday, acquiring goaltender Jason LaBarbera
from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a seventh-round draft
pick in 2009.

LaBarbera, who is 5-8-4 with a 2.83 goals-against average this
season, had fallen out of favor with the Kings, but may now be
relied on as the Canucks wait for their regular netminders to
get healthy.

The 28-year-old is expected to start against the Predators, who
have not scored more than three goals in 14 consecutive games.

While Nashville’s offense remains sluggish as a whole,
blue-liner Shea Weber continues to be bright spot and is tied
for second in scoring among NHL defenseman with 28 points.