NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Minnesota Wild Preview, Picks, Odds Print
Written by Anthony Rome   
Sunday, 02 December 2007 02:25
NHL Headline News

Shutout City

With a shutout streak that has stretched more than three games, Vancouver's Roberto Luongo has already set personal and franchise records. Minnesota's Marian Gaborik, though, is on a streak of his own that could end both of them. 

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Minnesota -136 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 72% of bets for this game have been placed on Vancouver +126 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

Luongo will put his shutout string on the line while Gaborik looks to continue his scoring run on Sunday when the Canucks meet the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center in a matchup of the Northwest Division's top two teams.

After blanking Chicago and Anaheim, Luongo's streak reached 193 minutes, 56 seconds as he made 26 saves in a 2-0 win over Columbus on Thursday night. With his 36th career shutout, Luongo surpassed his personal best of 182 minutes, 37 seconds, set with Florida in 2004. He also eclipsed the Canucks' franchise record of 184 minutes, 20 seconds by moving past Ken Lockett, a backup who played 55 games over two seasons and set the mark in April 1975.

Luongo needs to keep the puck out of the net for the first 6:04 to become the ninth goaltender since 1989-90 with a shutout streak of 200 minutes. Phoenix's Brian Boucher had the longest scoreless streak in that span at 332 minutes, 1 second from Dec. 27, 2003-Jan. 11, 2004, which is also the longest shutout run in modern NHL history.

Luongo, a runner-up for the Hart and Vezina Trophies last season, said his play is a result of vastly improved team defense through November.

"It's nice, but I think right now we've got to look at the way we're winning games and the type of hockey we're playing and I think the whole group should feel good about themselves," he said. "You just got to make sure you're on top of your game and challenging.

"It helps to know the guys are doing a good job taking away backdoors and slot rebounds and plays and stuff like that."

The Canucks allowed an average of 1.6 goals en route to a 9-2-2 record last month. But Luongo hasn't played well in Minnesota during his career. He was 0-4-1 with a tie a 3.20 goals-against average before a 30-save effort in a 3-2 overtime win on Feb. 14.

While Luongo has been denying shooters lately, Gaborik continues to find ways to fill the net for Minnesota. He has goals in three straight games and five in his last five overall - a streak that started on Nov. 21 when he scored twice against backup Curtis Sanford in a 4-2 home loss to the Canucks.

The franchise leader in goals scored with 174, Gaborik has six in his last six games against Vancouver.

Gaborik helped Minnesota to its third win in a row its last time out. His wrist shot on a breakaway 2:39 into overtime on Friday lifted the Wild to a 3-2 win over St. Louis and allowed Minnesota (14-9-2) to move into a tie with Vancouver (14-9-2) atop the Northwest.

"It's coming, so hopefully I can keep it going as long as I can," said Gaborik, who's missed at least 17 games each of the previous three seasons mostly due to groin injuries. "Now we're playing at home and it's important to get these wins."

Gaborik leads the Wild with 10 goals and 20 points, one more than Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who has three assists in two games versus the Canucks this season.

Minnesota, 9-4-0 at home, wraps up a four-game homestand on Wednesday against Philadelphia.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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