Canucks try to get back on track before playoffs
The Vancouver Canucks have little to play for after wrapping up the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy — and it showed as they were swept in a home-and-home set by the NHL's worst team.
Roberto Luongo would like to see some improvement before the playoffs begin.
The Canucks play their final home game of the regular season Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild, who have lost their last six visits to Vancouver.
Since clinching the league's best record with a 3-1 win over Los Angeles last Thursday, the Canucks have been outscored by a combined 6-1 in back-to-back losses to NHL-worst Edmonton.
"We're not happy about it," Luongo said. "We played a decent game [in Tuesday's 2-0 loss] but we need to have that desperation level in our game. Right now we don't have much to play for and it is tough for some of the guys, but we know what we have to do. We need to have a couple good performances to get ready for the playoffs next week."
After Thursday's game, Vancouver (52-19-9) will visit Calgary on Saturday, but coach Alain Vigneault didn't sound too desperate to see improvement before the postseason.
"We have a very veteran group who are very mature," Vigneault said. "They've always known what to do and I am very confident they will be fine."
The Canucks have been fine when hosting the Wild lately, outscoring their Northwest Division rivals 9-3 in two meetings at Rogers Arena this season.
Raffi Torres scored a goal in each of those wins, but he may not be on the ice Thursday. The veteran wing is facing a possible suspension for an elbow to the head of Edmonton's Jordan Eberle on Tuesday, though Torres defended the hit despite being ejected.
"It was a fine hit," he said. "I was finishing my hit and he had his head down. We were both going for the puck. I've got to finish my hits. He was obviously in a vulnerable position but at the end of the day I have to finish my hit or else I am out of a job.
"If they are trying to get rid of clean hits like that, what's this league going to be in a couple of years?"
Vigneault may opt to hold Luongo out to get his goaltender rested for the playoffs. Backup Cory Schneider is 3-1-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average in his career against Minnesota, while Luongo's 2.99 GAA versus the Wild is his worst against any Western Conference opponent.
The Wild (37-34-8) are searching for some positive signs in their final three games on the heels of a dismal 2-9-1 stretch. They're 3 for 42 (7.1 percent) on the power play over that span while averaging 1.8 goals.
Carson McMillan's goal in his NHL debut was a rare bright spot in Sunday's 4-2 loss at Detroit, Minnesota's eighth straight defeat against a playoff contender.
"I thought our defence competed and played hard," coach Todd Richards said. "We lacked the other things you need against a team as good as that."
Leading scorer Martin Havlat was held without a point for the eighth time in his last 11 games.
Vancouver's Daniel Sedin reached the 100-point plateau for the first time in his career against the Kings, but the NHL points leader was held off the score sheet twice by the Oilers.
Ryan Kesler has keyed the Canucks' recent home dominance over Minnesota, scoring eight goals in the past seven meetings at Rogers Arena.