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Canucks' Crawford Pays with Job
The Vancouver Canucks fired coach Marc Crawford on Tuesday after missing the playoffs for the first time in five seasons. Crawford coached the Canucks for seven seasons, winning a Northwest Division title in 2003-04.

"We need some new energy, some new juice," general manager Dave Nonis said.

Crawford, who led the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup in 1996, was 246-197-70 in Vancouver with one series win in four trips.

Senators surviving

Two nights after a third-period collapse at home revived talk about past postseason disappointment, the top-seeded Ottawa Senators regained control of its first-round series against the Lightning with an impressive 8-4 victory on Tuesday night. Ottawa leads 2-1. The Senators have been one of the top two seeds in the East four times since 1999 but have yet to reach the Stanley Cup finals.

TUESDAY'S GAMES

RESULTS, SYNOPSIS

Ottawa 8 at Tampa Bay 4

Martin Havlat scored 3rd, 4th goals of playoffs and defenseman Wade Redden had goal, 2 asts after missing Game 2 due to death of his mother.

Calgary 5 at Anaheim 2

Darren McCarty and Robyn Regehr scored 34 secs apart in 3rd period to break open tight game and lift Flames to 2-1 series edge.

Nashville 1 at San Jose 4

Joe Thornton held pointless but Patrick Marleau scored 2 goals and Vesa Toskala made 16 svs as Sharks went up 2-1 in series.

Detroit at Edmonton late

Game went into OT. Wings (58-16-8) in danger of going down 2-1. They had better road mark (NHL all-time best 31-7-3) than home mark.
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Canucks, Kings meet in LA
The Vancouver Canucks will try to avoid their third consecutive loss tonight when they travel to the City of Angels to battle the Kings at the Staples Center.

The Canucks can ill afford a lengthy losing streak at this juncture. They have 87 points and are seventh in the Western Conference playoff standings. Edmonton is lurking just one point behind in eighth place.

Vancouver was handed a 6-2 loss in Anaheim on Sunday afternoon. Teemu Selanne and Samuel Pahlsson each netted two goals to lead the Mighty Ducks.

Todd Bertuzzi and Mattias Ohlund both scored for Vancouver, which is also five points behind first place Calgary in the Northwest Division and one point in back of idle Colorado for sixth place in the Western Conference.

Also on Sunday, Alexander Auld allowed four goals on 23 shots before being pulled with 10:04 left in second period. His replacement, Mika Noronen, stopped 5-of-7 shots over the remainder of the game.

Tonight is the finale of brief two-game road trip for the Canucks, who are just 17-19-2 as the visitors this year. Vancouver will begin a three-game homestand Saturday versus Calgary.

The Kings ended a three-game losing streak with Saturday's close win over visiting Dallas. Mathieu Garon stopped 27 shots for his third shutout of the season as LA defeated Dallas, 1-0, at the Staples Center.

Jeremy Roenick scored the only goal of the game for the Kings, who moved to within three points of Edmonton for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Kings, who are 24-12-1 as the hosts this year, end a two-game homestand tonight.

The Kings have won two of three meetings with the Canucks this season, but Vancouver is 8-3-3 (3 losses, 3 ties) in the last 14 battles.

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Injuries Could Force Trades

National Hockey League history will be made Thursday with the first trading deadline under the new salary cap system. It'll be a whole two weeks earlier than previous years, which means it'll cost marginally more to rent a player for a playoff run.

It'll also be one of the early defining moments in Vancouver Canucks' general manager Dave Nonis' career. How much buying the rookie executive does will send a signal to fans on whether ownership believes in the Canucks' dozen-year cycle. The team, which joined the NHL in 1970, played in the Stanley Cup finals in their 12th (1982) and 24th (1994) years. Will the hockey gods smile on Lotusland in 2006?

Nonis undoubtedly will be shopping for defence. The team is notably thin on the blue line and could use reinforcement on the goal line.

Sami Salo (shoulder strain, week-to-week) and Mattias Ohlund (rib, day-to-day) returned from the Torino Winter Olympics with medals and maladies.

Ed Jovanovski couldn't go because of abdominal surgery. He's listed as indefinite, just like Rick Rypien (leg) and Dan Cloutier (knee).

Goaltender Cloutier hasn't played since November and was branded "gone for the rest of the regular season" in December when he underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Canucks chose to stick with understudy Alex Auld, who entered the season content with back-up status. Canucks have been cagey about Cloutier's progress. With veteran Wade Flaherty seemingly stuck with the Manitoba Moose and Maxime Ouellet a stopgap puck-stopper, Nonis will certainly be offered either a backup or a proven veteran.

Canucks are probably wishing they still had Brent Johnson, the journeyman who came to camp last summer but ended up in Washington as Olaf Kolzig's sub. "Olie the Goalie," a career Capital, signed a new contract this winter but that doesn't mean he couldn't end up a Canuck, closer to his parents' home in Union Bay on Vancouver Island.

Manny Fernandez is the Minnesota Wild's No. 1, making Dwayne Roloson convenient trade bait. Wayne Gretzky might also give Phoenix Coyote Curtis Joseph one more chance to win the Stanley Cup elsewhere. A hefty price would have to be paid for either Roloson or Joseph for an intra-conference trade. Florida Panther Roberto Luongo is the prize catch. Panthers' GM Mike Keenan, however, wouldn't be charitable with the Canucks for obvious reasons. That leaves Buffalo Sabre Martin Biron or Garth Snow of the New York Islanders more likely to fit in Nonis' budget.

On the blue line, the Canucks could use Brent Sopel again. He was traded to the Islanders last summer for a conditional second or third round pick this year. Columbus might want to unload Bryan Berard, but the Blue Jacket's marketability was hurt by the revelation that he spent the lockout bulking up on steroids. That canceled his ticket to Torino. Perhaps Nonis could extract big blue-liner Christian Backman from St. Louis. Backman dealt the Canucks a final blow Sunday night with a booming slap-shot goal.

What can Nonis offer in return? Not a heckuva lot.

The Sedin twins and Anson Carter are the only untouchables. Injuries have tested Vancouver's depth, leaving Alexandre Burrows and Ryan Kesler among the most desirable developing players. Burrows was signed as a free agent in November and Kesler is the Canucks' No. 1 pick in 2003. Vancouver has a history of giving up early on young players (lest we forget Cam Neely.) Will Nonis follow the tradition?

Nonis doesn't have any grizzled veterans to deal. Todd Bertuzzi's lacklustre season and Olympics have harmed his value. He's still among the league's most unpopular players outside Vancouver and isn't likely to sell tickets elsewhere.

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Flames, Canucks Eye 1st Place
The battle for first place in the NHL's Northwest Division heats up Thursday with the top two teams – the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks – involved in key road games.

Calgary, which has a game in hand on Vancouver, takes on the Blackhawks in the first of back-to-back contests in Chicago. Vancouver faces off against the Red Wings in Detroit, looking to keep the heat on the front-running Flames.

Calgary (29-15-5) sits atop the division with 63 points, just two points ahead of the Canucks (28-17-5).

The Flames will be out for revenge in Chicago after the Blackhawks ended Calgary's season-high eight-game winning streak with a 5-2 victory on Nov. 18.

Losers of two straight, Chicago suffered a big blow last Friday when starting goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin suffered a sprained knee in a 4-1 road loss to Minnesota. The injury will keep the Russian goalie, Chicago's marquee free-agent acquisition last off-season, out of the lineup for six weeks.

Chicago will either call upon rookie Adam Munro or Corey Crawford, recalled from Norfolk of the American Hockey League on Sunday, to face the Flames. Between them, Munro and Crawford have only 12 games of NHL experience.

A 7-4 loss in Denver Tuesday snapped Calgary's four-game winning streak, leaving the Flames even more determined as they prepare for the Blackhawks.

"They scored some power-play goals and some goals off of turnovers and that's not the way we play," said Chuck Kobasew, who had his first career hat trick for the Flames. "We have to rebound and find a way to go to Chicago with that edge and get that two points."

Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has won four straight games, sporting a 1.25 goals-against average over that span. He is 3-1-1 in his career against the Blackhawks with a 2.32 GAA.

Calgary captain Jarome Iginla has been on a hot streak lately, scoring six goals in his last six games. Iginla has three goals and an assist in his last three games against Chicago.

Jovanovski out for Vancouver

The Canucks stumble into Detroit on the back of two straight losses.

Vancouver has won seven of its past 10, but has looked far from effective in the first two games of its current seven-game road trip.

The Canucks were blanked 4-0 by the lowly St. Louis Blues on Monday before dropping a 6-5 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets the next day.

"It's a difficult way to play, no matter who you're playing against," Vancouver coach Marc Crawford said after the loss to Columbus. "We got ourselves back in to the game on a couple of occasions after a slow start. We did do some good things to generate (offence), unfortunately it didn't end up the way we would have liked.

"Anytime you score five goals, that's usually enough to win."

The loss to the Blue Jackets was compounded when standout defenceman Ed Jovanovski re-injured his groin in the first period and did not return. It was his second game back after missing 11 contests with the injury.

The 29-year-old flew back to Vancouver following the loss and is not expected to be in the lineup against Chicago.

Calgary plays Chicago again on Sunday, while the Canucks visit the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Saturday (CBC, 10 p.m. ET).

The Flames and Canucks will face off against each other next Friday in Calgary.

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Canucks' Jovanovski Aggravates Groin Injury
Defenseman Ed Jovanovski’s return to the Vancouver Canucks did not last very long.

One night after rejoining the lineup after a lengthy absence, Jovanovski aggravated a groin injury in the first period of Vancouver’s 6-5 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

The first overall pick of the Florida Panthers in the 1994 draft, Jovanovski originally suffered the injury in a 4-3 victory over Nashville on December 28.  He missed the next 11 games before returning for Monday’s 4-0 loss at St. Louis.

Jovanovski played just 4 minutes, 19 seconds before aggravating the groin.  The three-time All-Star did not record a shot on goal and was on the ice for Columbus’ first tally of the game.

“I don’t have any news now,” Vancouver coach Marc Crawford said. “I think we will see how he is in the morning.  He pulled his groin again, so right now, we will have to wait and see how it is in the morning.”The 29-year-old Jovanovski has registered six goals, 22 assists, 50 penalty minutes and a minus-6 rating in 39 games this season.  He has collected 84 tallies, 312 points and 1,077 penalty minutes in 682 career contests with Florida and Vancouver.

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