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Canucks Preview: Team meets its Wild rivals for the final time this season

The Canucks look to get back on track and stay ahead of the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday as the division rivals meet for the final time this season.

Vancouver (41-23-5) is in first place with 87 points, just two ahead of the Wild. While the Canucks and Minnesota (39-24-7) are fighting for the top spot in the Northwest, they're also jockeying for position in the Western Conference, as the Wild's 85 points have them tied with Dallas and San Jose for fifth place.

Vancouver suffered a costly 4-2 loss to Anaheim on Sunday, as its five-game winning streak came to an end. Minnesota defeated Colorado 3-2 in overtime, putting it in position to move into a first-place tie with the Canucks on Tuesday.

Vancouver's Roberto Luongo allowed three goals on 10 first-period shots as he failed to become the 20th goaltender in NHL history to record 40 wins in a season.

"They definitely got the bounces tonight and we didn't," said Luongo, who set the franchise record with his 39th win of the season Friday in a 2-1 overtime victory at San Jose.

Luongo has started all seven games against the Wild this season, and made 28 saves in the Canucks' 4-3 shootout victory over them March 4. That improved him to 3-3-1 with a 2.92 goals-against average in the season series, including wins in the last two meetings.

Vancouver has won two of its three games against the Wild at GM Place in 2006-07, and is 5-1-1 at home against them since the start of last season.

The Canucks have won five straight home contests and are 15-2-2 at GM Place since Dec. 8.

The Wild are opening a crucial three-game road trip against division opponents, as they face fifth-place Edmonton on Thursday and third-place Calgary, which is right behind them in the standings, Saturday.

"Those are always tough games, we've been playing pretty well, though, especially on the road," Minnesota defenceman Brent Burns said.

The Wild have won three of their last four road games and are 12-3-2 away from the Xcel Energy Center since Jan. 11. They started the season 4-15-1 on the road.

Minnesota won its third straight overall with Sunday's victory over Colorado. Mikko Koivu scored two goals, while Burns got the winner with 18.9 seconds left in the extra period.

The Wild, outscoring opponents 10-4 during their winning streak, haven't won four in a row since opening the season with a five-game run from Oct. 5-18.

"We're playing great games," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "I'm looking to have all 20 players that we have at their best every night."

Niklas Backstrom has been at his best lately, making 21 saves Sunday to improve to 5-1-1 with a 1.93 GAA since Feb. 20.

He is 11-3-3 with a 2.23 GAA since Manny Fernandez sprained his knee Jan. 20. Backstrom was pulled for Fernandez in last Tuesday's loss to the Sharks after allowing three goals on 24 shots through two periods, but Fernandez hasn't played since.

Backstrom is 1-1-2 with a 2.10 GAA against the Canucks this season, while Fernandez is 3-0-0 with a 2.05 GAA against them.


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