THE STORY: The Vancouver Canucks boast the NHL’s best power play, but haven’t shown it as of late. The Canucks are just 2-for-17 with the man advantage in their last seven games – including a failed 5-on-3 effort for 69 seconds in the third period of an eventual 3-2 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks on Monday. So, is it time to sound the alarm, or is this just a blip on the screen? “I think at times we need more movement from more guys but I think it’s coming and it’s going to be fine,” captain Henrik Sedin told the Vancouver Province. “We’ve hit a bit of a blip and we haven’t been getting shots from the right areas. They’re easy things to correct and we’re starting to do that now.” Wednesday would be an opportune time to find the remedy as the Canucks will look to stop a modest two-game slide against the visiting Minnesota Wild. Vancouver, which owns a three-point lead over Minnesota in the Northwest Division standings, has defeated the Wild in two out of three contests this season. Minnesota enters Wednesday’s contest trying to put its 1-6-3 mark in December in its rearview mirror.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, FSNO, RSNP
ABOUT THE WILD (21-13-6): Beginning in British Columbia, Minnesota plays seven of its next 10 games on the road. Rogers Arena has been a house of horrors for the Wild, who are 0-7-2 in their last nine in Vancouver. G Niklas Backstrom has been in net for both losses to the Canucks this season. His career mark stands at 11-11-6 versus Wednesday’s foe, but has dropped his last five meetings in Vancouver.
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (24-13-3): RW Jannik Hansen netted his career-high 12th goal of the season and C Cody Hodgson also tallied, but Vancouver was unable to tie the Chicago Blackhawks atop the Western Conference following Monday’s loss. D Kevin Bieksa extended his points streak to seven games with an assist, but has not dented the scoresheet in his encounters versus the Wild this season. LW Chris Higgins returned from a three-game absence with a hand infection, but failed to secure a point.
1. Wild RW Devin Setoguchi was activated from injured reserve after missing his team’s previous 12 games with a lower body injury.
2. Canucks LW David Booth has returned to skating after injuring his knee on Dec. 6. The 27-year-old Booth could rejoin the team as early as Saturday for Vancouver’s Stanley Cup rematch with the Boston Bruins, but will most likely return against his former team – the Florida Panthers – on Monday.
PREDICTION: Canucks 4, Wild 1.