Canucks to clash with reeling Oilers
Edmonton tries to recover from a 9-2 drubbing on a special night in Vancouver
The Vancouver Canucks will soon know if they have landed free agent star Mats Sundin.
The Canucks wouldn't mind hearing the news coming off a victory over the rival Edmonton Oilers. The teams meet on a special night Wednesday at GM Place.
While it retires the No. 16 of popular star Trevor Linden prior to the game, Vancouver (17-11-3) could be on the verge of acquiring another of the NHL's all-time greats.
The 37-year-old Sundin, a nine-time all-star who scored 32 goals with Toronto last season, is expected to announce Thursday whether he'll play for the Canucks or New York Rangers for the rest of 2008-09. Sundin has spent 17 seasons in the NHL with Quebec and Toronto, totaling 555 goals and 766 assists.
The Canucks, tied with Calgary for first place in the Northwest Division, offered Sundin $10 million US per year, which would earn him a pro-rated salary of about $5 million.
"We will see how it plays out," Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said. "The reality is we've done everything we can possibly do to attract a high-level player to come here."
Vancouver hopes a positive result on the Sundin decision will cap what could be a couple of joyous days for the franchise. The Canucks will retire the jersey of Linden, who had 375 goals and 492 assists in 19 NHL seasons, most of which he spent in Vancouver.
Following the ceremony, the Canucks will look to improve to 2-0 on a four-game homestand after finishing a 2-4-1 road trip with a 3-0 loss to Edmonton on Saturday.
"It is a huge game, but obviously it's a huge night, too," Vancouver forward Alex Burrows told the team's official website. "Before the game for a little bit we'll celebrate Trevor and afterwards we'll come back here, focus, regroup and make sure that we're ready to go."
Vancouver returned home Sunday and defeated Florida 5-3. Pavel Demitra scored twice while Ryan Kesler added a goal and an assist for the Canucks, who erased a 2-0 deficit by scoring four times in the second period.
Demitra has three of his 10 goals on the season in his last three games, while Kesler has a goal and three assists in his last four contests. Kesler had two assists in a 6-3 win over Edmonton on Oct. 25.
With captain Roberto Luongo still week-to-week with a groin injury, Curtis Sanford is expected to start this contest for Vancouver, which is 5-4-1 without Luongo.
Sanford is 4-4-0 with a 2.87 goals-against average this season and 5-1-1 with a 2.21 GAA lifetime versus the Oilers.
Though Edmonton (14-13-2) evened the season series with Vancouver in the teams' last meeting, the Oilers must find a way to rebound from a 9-2 home loss to Chicago on Tuesday.
"We have to somehow get our energy back up and try to duplicate the game we had against Vancouver our last game at home," captain Ethan Moreau said. "There is going to be a lot of questions going into [Wednesday] because of our effort [Tuesday], but we have an opportunity to play well. That's how we'll be evaluated — by how we respond."
Mathieu Garon allowed five goals and was replaced by Dwayne Roloson, who gave up four for Edmonton, which has lost two of three since winning three in a row.
Roloson, 6-4-2 with a 2.74 GAA on the season, could get the start Wednesday after recording 23 saves against the Canucks on Saturday for his first shutout of the season.
Shawn Horcoff scored against Chicago giving him three goals and eight assists in his last nine games.
Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner and Robert Nilsson each scored for the Oilers against the Canucks over the weekend.