Kassian scores twice but Canucks lose to Devils

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A rare Friday night tilt between the Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils produced plenty of storylines.

— For starters, the Canucks had a dreadful opening period and got off to an even worse start in the second period, and that was costly. Playing the second game of a back-to-back and of a five-game road trip, they lost to the Devils by a final score of 4-2, after falling behind by three goals early in the middle period.

— The Canucks entered the game second in the Pacific Division. The surprising Calgary Flames were also hosting the Anaheim Ducks, with the Flames having a chance to leapfrog the Canucks in the division standings with a win.

— Zack Kassian was inserted back into the lineup, after Alex Burrows did not play due to a lower-body injury. Initially, Burrows took the pre-game skate, but a decision was made that he wasn’t good enough to go.

— Further to that development, Kassian, who has expressed frustration and confusion over being a healthy scratch in recent games, looked impressive on a line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin. He scored twice, getting the Canucks back into the game in the third period. Now, if Burrows can’t go Sunday against the New York Islanders, will head coach Willie Desjardins trust Kassian enough to play on a line with the twins?

— Devils goalie Cory Schneider recorded his first victory against his former team. Schneider was traded from the Canucks to the Devils for the ninth overall pick, which has turned into Bo Horvat, at the 2013 NHL Draft.

Canucks’ Burrows won’t play versus Devils, out with ‘lower-body injury’

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Alex Burrows, who was involved in a fight and later scored in the shootout for the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, is out of the lineup for Friday’s match-up against the New Jersey Devils.

Burrows was shown on Sportsnet taking the pre-game skate and discussing something with the Canucks training staff. The Canucks made the lineup decision official shortly before the opening faceoff.

Zack Kassian, a healthy scratch against the Rangers, will draw back into the lineup.

Canucks to healthy scratch Kassian for ninth time this season, will debut McMillan

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The Zack Kassian drama continued in Vancouver (well, technically New York) on Thursday, as Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins confirmed Kassian would be dropped from the lineup for tonight’s game against the Rangers in favor of Brandon McMillan, who was acquired off waivers from Arizona last week.

Kassian, who has expressed frustration about his repeat healthy scratches, will be parked for the ninth time this season. The decision to drop him from the lineup comes after a relatively decent five-game stretch, in which Kassian scored two goals and four points and had a strong outing in Friday’s 5-2 win over Boston, assisting on two of Shawn Matthias’ three goals.

That said, Kassian did commit a series of turnovers in Monday’s win over Minnesota, and only played three shifts in the third period for 1:53 TOI.

Here’s more, from Canucks GM Jim Benning:

As for McMillan, he’ll dress for the first time since getting scooped off waivers on Feb. 12. The former Duck and Coyote — who played for Desjardins on Team Canada at the 2010 World Juniors — should be familiar with a number of his new mates; he played with Radim Vrbata in Arizona and both Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa in Anaheim.

Video: Daniel Sedin nets the OT winner as the Canucks top the Blackhawks

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Vancouver blew a 4-2 third period lead in Chicago Wednesday night, but Daniel Sedin scored the overtime-winner as the Canucks edged the Blackhawks 5-4.

“I thought we played well,” said Daniel Sedin. “They came back in the [third], but I thought we stuck with the game plan for 60 minutes and it paid off in the end. I mean, we got the two points.”

Linden Vey, Bo Horvat and Zack Kassian scored second period goals to erase a 1-0 Blackhawks lead. Kassian’s marker gives him goals in three straight games for the first time since Jan. 20-25, 2013.

Marian Hossa pulled the Blackhawks to within one with his first of the night at 12:48 of the third.

After Daniel Sedin restored the two-goal lead, Brandon Saad got Chicago to 4-3 with just over two minutes remaining.

Hossa tied it 4-4 with 55 seconds left in the final frame to force overtime.

Patrick Kane had the other Chicago goal. Kane also had two assists in the loss and now has a league-leading 62 points.

“Obviously, we weren’t happy with our game tonight, but it was nice to figure out a way to get it to overtime,” said Duncan Keith, who assisted on Saad’s late third period goal. “We know we’re a tough team to play against when our backs [are] up against the wall, but you never want to let it get like that.”

Henrik Sedin, Luca Sbisa and Chris Higgins each had two assists in the win.

Corey Crawford made 31 saves in the loss.

Eddie Lack improved to 5-6-2 on the season with a 37 save performance.

Chicago is now winless in the first two games of its eight-game home stand.

Vancouver has won both meetings with Chicago this season. The two clubs meet for a third and final time on April 2.

Wild’s winning streak reaches six games after defeating the Canucks

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Around this time last month, the Minnesota Wild was in a free fall. Seems like a distant memory right now.

The Wild defeated the Vancouver Canucks by a final score of 5-3 on Monday, taking advantage of some sloppy defensive lapses from the Pacific Division visitors and forcing Ryan Miller from the net, for the team’s sixth straight victory, and eighth in its last 10 games.

Suddenly, the playoffs seem possible.

The Wild moved to 58 points, which put it three back of the Calgary Flames for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, with the Flames also in action Monday.

Behind Minnesota’s recent success is goalie Devan Dubnyk, who has started in each of the Wild’s last six wins. He has three shutouts in that span, although he was beaten three times by the Canucks, who had 25 shots on goal.

Wild forwards Jason Zucker and Ryan Carter left the game in the first period, both upper-body injuries, said head coach Mike Yeo, as per Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“We should not expect them back in the lineup in the near future,” said Yeo.

After a solid shutout victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, the Canucks got to within a goal early in the second period, but then coughed up two goals in 54 seconds as the Wild increased its lead to three.

“It’s frustrating. To make the playoffs you have to string wins together and we have to find a way to do that,” said Canucks forward Zack Kassian, who scored for the second time in as many games.

Canucks center Nick Bonino left the game after blocking a shot in the second period.

That could leave the Canucks in a pinch, especially up the middle, with Brad Richardson out with a foot injury.