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Sanderson scores in first game sans Bertuzzi

3/11/2004

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Geoff Sanderson wasn't with
the Vancouver Canucks when Todd Bertuzzi attacked Colorado's Steve Moore with a punch to the head.

A day after being traded to the Canucks, Sanderson felt the full
effect of what happened two nights earlier.

Sanderson scored the tying goal with 4:17 left in his first game
with Vancouver, rallying the Canucks to a 1-1 tie with the
Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.

He was one of three players making their Canucks debut after
being acquired at the NHL trade deadline Tuesday -- debuts that
coincided with Vancouver's first game since Bertuzzi was suspended
for his blindside punch.

Moore was still in the hospital Wednesday with fractured
vertebrae in his neck and a concussion.

Bertuzzi returned to Vancouver after his disciplinary hearing in
Toronto. He spoke to his teammates and then issued a tearful
apology to Moore.

"It was real emotional here," said Sanderson, acquired just
before the NHL trade deadline from Columbus. "I haven't seen
anything like this since the playoffs when I was in Buffalo in the
finals. The attention this is getting, it was like being thrown
right into the middle of it. It was pretty overwhelming."

Bertuzzi made his first public comments since Monday and choked
up three times while reading a prepared statement.

"When we told you guys how disappointed and how upset he was,
we weren't joking," Canucks goalie Dan Cloutier said after making
20 saves. "He's taking it pretty hard and he's a human being too
and he's one of those guys that's got a huge heart.

"We played well for him, and our team put things aside and
focused on hockey."

Cloutier was easily the best Vancouver player, making several
huge saves early and getting lucky when Filip Kuba hit the post
with 1.7 seconds left.

After allowing 12 goals in his last seven periods, he robbed
Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Stephane Veilleux from close range during
an early power play and stuffed Marian Gaborik on a chance alone in
the final minute of the first period.

His play allowed Sanderson to tie it during a late power play as
Vancouver salvaged a point but fell four points behind the
Avalanche in the Northwest Division.

Sanderson took the puck below the goal line, skated along the
boards and into the faceoff circle, and snapped a wrist shot under
Dwayne Roloson's glove.

"It was really important, I wanted to get off to a good start
here," Sanderson said. "Anytime you go to a new place, first
impressions are everything."

Wild coach Jacques Lemaire wasn't surprised the Canucks were
able to salvage a point without Bertuzzi.

"I know when a thing like that happens on your team, the guys'
minds are a little spread out, but when they step on the ice they
get focused to the game," Lemaire said. "I know they could play
harder than they did, that I know, especially if Bertuzzi would be
in the lineup. But to me they still gave a pretty nice effort."

Sanderson, acquired from Columbus, joined former New York Rangers forward Martin Rucinsky and former Pittsburgh Penguins
defenseman Marc Bergevin in making his Vancouver debut.

"Having the new guys come in, it brought different energy,"
Cloutier said. "The rest of the guys that have been here just
followed those new guys."

Andrew Brunette scored on a power play and Roloson made 29
saves as the 12th-place Wild played tough against a playoff-bound
opponent for the second straight night. Minnesota, missing regulars
Wes Walz, Pascal Dupuis and Willie Mitchell, beat San Jose 4-3
Tuesday night.

The tie was Minnesota s 20th of the season, tops in the NHL and
just four shy of the NHL record of 24 set by Philadelphia in
1969-70.

"If half of those are wins, we're in a playoff situation,"
Roloson said.

Brunette opened the scoring with 4:51 left in the second,
skating down the right side and wiring a 15-foot wrist shot over
Cloutier's glove, off the post and in.

Game notes
Vancouver tough guy Wade Brookbank fought Wild enforcer
Matt Johnson 1:11 in. Johnson recently served a five-game
suspension for swinging his stick at the head of Canucks forward
Matt Cooke, who was suspended two games for responding with a
spear into Johnson's midsection. ... Vancouver forward Tyler Bouck left in the first period with dizziness after slamming into the end
boards, trying unsuccessfully to negate an icing call. ...
Minnesota D Willie Mitchell was scratched because of the flu. ...
Vancouver C Henrik Sedin missed the game with a muscle strain.