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Jeff Tambellini and Nolan Baumgartner cherish Stanley Cup chance with Canucks

VANCOUVER - Jeff Tambellini avoided a hometown heartbreak Wednesday as he returned to the Vancouver Canucks lineup for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

Tambellini, who grew up in the Vancouver suburb of Port Moody, B.C., will replace Mason Raymond in the Canucks lineup after the winger suffered a vertebrae compression fracture in Game 6 against the Boston Bruins.

"Without a doubt, (it's) good for Jeff to come in at this point," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said Wednesday prior to Game 7. "He has had some experience in this series, but he hasn't played regular. But he's going to get an opportunity here tonight to play the seventh game and win the Stanley Cup."

Said Tambellini: "It's a great moment. It's a wonderful opportunity for everybody in this room to go and play the game of our lives and find a way to win the Stanley Cup."

The opportunity has added meaning for Tambellini, who spent his youth around the Canucks while his father Steve, now general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, was a player and executive with the club. Despite his loyalties to the Oilers, the elder Tambellini came to town with other family members to cheer on his son and offer some brief advice.

"It was a pretty quick conversation," Jeff Tambellini said. "Just make the most of the moment."

The game might be Tambellini's last with Vancouver as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Meanwhile, signs pointed to journeyman defenceman Nolan Baumgartner suiting up for the Canucks after he spent the entire season in the minors with their Manitoba farm club. He took the morning skate for the first time Wednesday after being recalled a week ago.

He has been out of game action for a month.

The consideration for Game 7 gave Baumgartner a chance he missed while with the Washington Capital during the 1998 final. He was with the team, but didn't suit up for any playoff games.

"Nothing has changed," said the 35-year-old. "It's the biggest show going right now. It's nice to be a part of it."

Baumgartner, who has spent nine seasons in the Canucks organization over three separate stints since 2002-03, was surprised to get the promotion after the club bypassed him in favour of other players after Manitoba's season ended.

"I was actually by a pool with my son swimming," said Baumgartner. "I got a few calls and I actually thought it was the wrong number because I was in the 714 area code and that was the number on my phone. So I didn't answer it for a while and then I picked up the voice message and it was the Canucks calling."

Game 7 will likely his last in the Canucks organization, if not his career. The club has several young defence prospects in their system and Baumgartner suspects it will be difficult to get another contract after his current one expires July 1.

A first-round pick in 1994, Baumgartner hopes to keep playing somewhere but acknowledges the future is uncertain.

"I'll play until they finally just kick me out of hockey."