The Vancouver Canucks insist a win, not revenge, will be foremost on their minds when the puck drops against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday.
Vancouver and Colorado square off for the first time since Steve Moore sidelined Canucks all-star Markus Naslund with a questionable mid-ice hit in a Feb. 16 game.
Replays appeared to show Moore swerving to hit Naslund on the side of the head with his elbow and shoulder.
The hit left Naslund bloodied and dazed. He needed 13 stitches to close cuts on his forehead and nose and missed three games with a concussion.
At the time, the Canucks were incensed by the hit, calling it a cheap shot at one of the game's best players.
Moore, a rookie, says he was just trying to do his job and not hurt Naslund.
"I'm just doing what I'm supposed to do out there: finish checks," he said.
"[Naslund] is a phenomenal player. You don't want him hurt. I don't want him hurt."
The NHL opted not to take any action against Moore, but some suspected the Canucks might.
After the game, Canucks tough guy Brad May declared a bounty on Moore. May, who subsequently received a call from NHL vice-president and chief disciplinarian Colin Campbell, has since backed off those remarks.
"The Steve Moore thing, that's a sidebar," said May. "Our focus is on going into Colorado and trying to get this win."
Trevor Linden is also adamant the Canucks won't be chasing retribution.
"It's not about Steve Moore; it's about playing well and winning," he told the Vancouver Sun.
Naslund says he's not plotting revenge and harbours no malice toward Moore.
"I haven't really thought about it that much since I got back playing," Naslund said.
"I'm not going to go out of my way to do something. I missed three games. It was unfortunate. I hope we're smart about things. It goes without saying that it's the biggest game of the year."
The Canucks come into Denver fresh off their third straight victory, a 2-0 decision at home on Saturday.
The winning streak has pushed the Canucks to within one point of the Northwest Division-leading Avalanche. Vancouver has a 35-19-7-4 record and 81 points.
The Avalanche enter Wednesday's game mired in a 1-5-1-1 slump that includes Saturday's 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Colorado is also winless in its last seven games at the Pepsi Center. Despite having players like Joe Sakic, Paul Karyia, Teemu Selanne and Milan Hejduk on their roster, the Avalanche have been struggling to score goals.
Since scoring two goals in the first period against the Detroit Red Wings in early February, Colorado has just four goals in nearly 430 minutes on home ice.
Despite their recent struggles, Avalanche coach Tony Granato is confident that his team can recapture the form that propelled them to the top of the NHL's standings in January.
"We're fine," Granato said.
"If you look at where we were two weeks ago, we were playing as well as anyone in the National Hockey League. If we can turn it around as quick as the last two weeks went the wrong way, we can be right back on top."
with files from Canadian Press