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Wild-Vancouver game preview

  • December 16, 2013 - 11:11 PM

7 p.m. vs. Vancouver • Xcel Energy Center • FSN, 100.3-FM

Preview: Two teams from the now-defunct Northwest Division renew their rivalry in the first of three meetings. The Canucks, two points ahead of the Wild in the standings, have won seven in a row by a 24-8 margin. The Wild ended a five-game road winless streak with a shootout victory Saturday at Colorado. The Wild is 13-3-2 at home.

Players to watch: The Chris Higgins-Ryan Kesler-Mike Santorelli line has 20 points during Vancouver’s seven-game winning streak. Kesler leads Vancouver with 15 goals this season, and is tied for second in the NHL with 11 on the road. Kesler has the third-most goals against the Wild with 20. G Roberto Luongo hasn’t started in St. Paul since Oct. 19, 2010, and he was pulled in his past three starts there (16 goals). He is 3-9-1 (and a tie) at Xcel Energy Center with a 3.56 goals-against average and .873 save percentage. Wild C Mikko Koivu has 10 goals and 27 points in 44 games against Vancouver. D Keith Ballard, who spent the past three seasons with the Canucks, plays his first game against them since leaving Vancouver.

Numbers: Canucks C Henrik Sedin is the all-time leader against the Wild with 46 assists in 72 games. He is second with 57 points. Brother Daniel Sedin is third with 54 points. … The Canucks have the NHL’s best penalty kill (90.2 percent); the Wild ranks 25th (78.3 percent).

Injuries: Wild C Mikael Granlund (concussion) is doubtful. Canucks C Alex Burrows (jaw) and D Alex Edler (knee) are out.

MICHAEL RUSSO

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