Jackets Host Canucks

Columbus, OH - The Vancouver Canucks have struggled mightily on special teams during their road trip. They have one more chance to get out of that funk before heading home.

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The Canucks look to salvage a split of their six-game road swing as they match up against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Columbus –120 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 68% of bets for this game have been placed on Columbus -120 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

Vancouver (3-3-0) has scored only once on 20 power-play opportunities through the first five games of this trip while allowing opponents to go 8-for-26 (30.8 percent).

On Sunday, the Canucks failed to score with the man advantage for a third straight game, going 0-for-4, and they surrendered two power-play goals for a fourth consecutive game in a 4-2 loss at Chicago.

"The numbers weren't great (Sunday night) but I liked some of the power plays, and I didn't like some of the other ones where we strictly got outworked and it's as simple as that," assistant coach Rick Bowness told the Canucks' official Web site.

"Regardless of the structure you throw out there, you've got to be ready to outwork the penalty-killing team."

Pavol Demitra and Henrik Sedin each provided goals, while goaltender Roberto Luongo made 22 saves for Vancouver, which will face a Columbus club that has converted 23.8 percent (5-for-21) of its power-play chances and has killed off its opponents' last nine.

"We have to find a way to play better," Canucks defenseman Mattias Ohlund said. "Maybe there was a goal or two (Sunday night) where you can (say) maybe there was a bad bounce, but overall we've had a stretch of games where we haven't played good defensive hockey."

That defense did welcome back Kevin Bieksa, who had missed three games because of a knee problem, but center Rick Rypien was sidelined due to an undisclosed injury and the Canucks might be further short-handed Tuesday.

Demitra suffered a "rib contusion," defenseman Sami Salo a "tweaked groin," and left wing Darcy Hordichuk a "tweaked knee" in Sunday's defeat, according to coach Alain Vigneault. All are considered day-to-day.

Like Vancouver, Columbus (2-3-0) has struggled defensively. Each team has allowed 21 goals, but the Blue Jackets have played one less game.

Columbus lost for the third time in four games Saturday, 6-3 at Nashville.

"We got outworked, we didn't play well enough in the defensive end, we didn't finish our checks in the offensive end, and we got checked off pucks," said Rick Nash, who scored his team-leading fourth goal. "There are no excuses."

Columbus yielded a season high in goals as Fredrik Norrena allowed four on 11 shots before giving way to rookie Dan LaCosta, who made 17 saves.

LaCosta was recalled from Syracuse of the AHL after starting goaltender Pascal Leclaire bruised his right thumb - an injury that isn't considered serious - on Friday night.

"We didn't give up a lot of scoring chances, but the ones we did were doozies," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Leclaire might be back in net versus Vancouver after LaCosta was returned to Columbus' minor-league affiliate on Sunday.

While Leclaire is 2-3-1 with a 2.10 goals-against average in eight all-time appearances against the Canucks, Luongo is 5-3-3 with a 1.89 GAA versus the Blue Jackets but has lost his two starts against them.

Vancouver is 7-3-2 versus Columbus since the start of the 2005-06 season.

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Posted: 10/20/08 11:08 PM

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