VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The Vancouver Canucks will look to avoid losing their third straight for just the second time this season when the Minnesota Wild pay their final visit to Rogers Arena on Thursday night.
Vancouver will have to get the job done without Raffi Torres, who was suspended for four games Thursday afternoon by the NHL for his hit on Edmonton Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle in a 2-0 loss on Tuesday.
"I strongly disagree with it, but we're going to move on here and get ready for the playoffs," Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis said of the suspension. "I thought it was a hockey play."
Torres, who will be unavailable for the first two games of the playoffs as well, commented on the Eberle hit this morning before hearing the decision.
"I felt like it was a good solid hit," he said. "I've never been suspended before. My game is to play physical and hard out there. I feel like I am a clean hitter out there."
Roberto Luongo (37-15-7) gets the start for the Canucks against the Wild. Luongo is 2-3-0 in his past five starts against Minnesota with a 4.86 GAA and an .840 save percentage.
The Canucks will have defenseman Alexander Edler back in the lineup. The 24-year-old missed 31 games with a back injury sustained in late January. Vancouver also reassigned rearguards Chris Tanev and Yann Sauve to the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League.
Minnesota (37-34-8) comes to Vancouver looking to end a six-game winless streak at Rogers Arena, and improve on a 2-9-1 record in their past 12. The Wild are 2-3-0 this season against their Northwest Division rivals and arrived in Vancouver after a 4-2 loss Sunday in Detroit.
With 401 man-games lost due to injury (fourth-most in the NHL) the Wild roster is stocked with rookies auditioning for jobs for next season, including Surrey, B.C., native Colton Gillies. The former first-rounder is on his second call-up with the big club this season and is looking forward to playing his hometown team.
"It's really exciting, I have a lot of friends and family coming tonight, hopefully we do well and get a win," said Gillies, who purchased 16 tickets for the game. "It's a great opportunity. This isn't the best league for nothing, but it's nice to be up here and get some playing time here before the playoffs down in Houston (AHL)."
Wild coach Todd Richards is happy with what he's seen from the 22-year-old forward.
"What I like about him is his simple game right now," Richards said. "He's just playing with speed, makes us faster, makes us bigger on the wing -- he wants to be the forechecker. At this stage where you're looking for some energy and some life he can inject some of that."
A win tonight would help the Wild improve to .500 against the Canucks and set a new franchise record for road wins with 20. Niklas Backstrom, who is 1-2-0 this season against Vancouver, gets the start and will look to improve on his .869 save percentage and 2.69 GAA.
The lone lineup change for the Wild is Jed Ortmeyer replacing Cal Clutterbuck, who's out with food poisoning.
Prior to the puck drop tonight the Canucks will hand out their seasonal awards, and will receive the Presidents' Trophy for the first time.
Forward Mikael Samuelsson was with the Detroit Red Wings when they won the trophy in 2005-06 and lost in the first-round, and in 2007-08 when they were the league's best regular-season team and won the Stanley Cup.
"You know what? The Presidents' Trophy is not something we really think about," Samuelsson said. "Really (heading into the playoffs), it doesn't mean anything. From my experience you can both win or get knocked out -- that's why I'm saying it doesn't really matter what you do in the regular season."