EDMONTON, Alberta – The Wild and Canucks will face off at least two more times in their best-of-five qualifying-round series, but whoever claims Game 3 Thursday afternoon at Rogers Place will have the upper hand the rest of the way.
Teams that win the third contest in a best-of-five after splitting the first two are 21-7 all-time in the series.
And lower-seeded teams have fared well in the tournament so far; the 12th-ranked Canadiens and Blackhawks both upended No.5 Pittsburgh and Edmonton, respectively, Wednesday. The No.10 Wild can do the same to the No.7 Canucks during Thursday’s matinee after taking Game 1 3-0 before falling short 4-3 in Game 2.
“Even after Game 1 when we won, it’s even-keel,” center Eric Staal said. “You’re excited about the win and you feel good about those emotions, and then you go into Game 2 and we didn’t quite have the level that we needed to be at. Credit Vancouver, they stepped up and were better. It’s about stepping up and raising that level for Game 3 because that momentum can shift and you could find yourself in a short series on the wrong side of it.
“For us, for me, and I think our guys know that. We’ve got enough experience to understand that our level needs to rise and it’s all about that next game, that next shift and that next moment. It’s pretty cliché, but that’s how you go about this process and this time of year. Our main focus is resting and recovering and being ready for a huge Game 3 for our group.”
Alex Stalock starts in goal again, with Nico Sturm making his playoff debut in place of Ryan Donato.
Lines have been juggled as well, with Zach Parise moving to the top line with Eric Staal and Kevin Fiala. Wild is the home team and has the last change.
Zach Parise-Eric Staal-Kevin Fiala
Marcus Foligno-Joel Eriksson Ek- Jordan Greenway
Zach Parise-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin
Mats Zuccarello-Alex Galchenyuk-Luke Kunin
Nico Sturm-Mikko Koivu-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba
Carson Soucy-Brad Hunt
0: Power play goals by the Wild in Game 2 during six chances.
2: Goals by winger Kevin Fiala in Game 2 on a game-high six shots.
61.2: Faceoff win percentage by the Canucks compared to 38.3 percent for the Wild.
33: Points for winger Zach Parise in 38 career playoff games with the Wild.
2: Assists for Staal in back-to-back game.
About the Canucks:
Vancouver is set to roll out a different lineup Thursday against the Wild. That’s because forward Micheal Ferland has been declared unfit to play for the remainder of the series. He has left the bubble in Edmonton and returned home and will be reevaluated after the series. Ferland has a history with concussions. He fought winger Marcus Foligno in Game 1 and didn’t finish Game 2.