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Naslund leads Vancouver scorers

3/30/2004

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Markus Naslund found his
scoring touch in time to help the Vancouver Canucks get over the
loss of suspended star Todd Bertuzzi.

Naslund scored his first goal in 11 games and added an assist in
Vancouver's 6-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night.

Vancouver's third straight victory was easily the most
impressive of four wins since Bertuzzi was suspended for the rest
of the season and playoffs for a blindside punch against Colorado's
Steve Moore on March 8.

"We're starting to look like a team with identity again," said
Naslund, who added an assist. "We were without identity for the
longest time. A lot of guys were looking to get back to playing the
way we could, and I think we're coming together at the same time,
pretty much everyone together."

The Canucks recorded 10 shots before the Coyotes managed their
first 7:18 in, and Vancouver finished with a 45-17 shot advantage.

"Getting our first man in hard to create turnovers was our big
focus," said Matt Cooke, who opened the scoring 6:23 into the
second period. "The last three games, we've really forechecked hard
and we cycled hard and got some pressure and some turnovers."

Daniel Sedin and Brent Sopel also scored second-period goals for
the Canucks, who won their 40th game of the season to stay one
point behind Colorado in the race for the Northwest Division title.

Artem Chubarov and Jason King added third-period goals as
Vancouver moved into a fourth-place tie with Dallas.

Ivan Novoseltsev ended Dan Cloutier's shutout bid with 2:07
left and Brian Boucher made 39 saves for the Coyotes, who have
just one win in 20 games.

"You've got to give Vancouver credit, they've got a good team
over there and they're playing well and they gave it to us
tonight," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who played the entire
game despite taking a deflected slap shot off the cheek midway
through the first period.

Cloutier, who finished with 16 saves, became the first Canucks goalie to post three straight 30-win seasons. New Jersey's Martin Brodeur is the only other NHL goalie with 30 wins in each of the last three seasons.

Despite outshooting Phoenix 16-5 in the opening period,
Vancouver was fortunate not to be trailing after an apparent
power-play goal was disallowed.

"We caught a team that was tired tonight, and we got on them
early," Canucks coach Marc Crawford said. "Their goalie was
outstanding the first half of the game, and when we finally did
break through, the floodgates opened."

Vancouver was outshooting the Coyotes 23-5 when Cooke scored on
a three-on-two rush. Naslund's attempted pass hit a stick and
bounced toward the near post.

Boucher stopped the puck, but his momentum carried him across
the crease, and a hard-charging Cooke tapped the loose puck into an
empty net.

Naslund ended his longest goal drought in four seasons when he
pounced on a loose puck inside the Phoenix blue line just over five
minutes later. He was hauled down by Derek Morris, but managed to
snap a perfect wrist shot over Boucher's glove while falling to
score his 33rd goal.

"After everything we've been through, it's nice to get some
flow back into our game," said Naslund, who credited four practice
days last week for helping to turn things around. "I'm just like
the rest of the team, starting to feel like those four days out of
five without a game really helped us."

Sedin scored his second goal in two games on a rebound 27
seconds later, and Sopel made it 4-0 with one minute left in the
period when Boucher whiffed on his unscreened shot from just inside
the blue line.

Canucks rookie forward King, recalled earlier Monday
because Brad May is injured, assisted on Chubarov's goal. He added
his 12th goal -- first since Nov. 25 -- with 2:43 left.

Game notes
Vancouver D Nolan Baumgartner, also recalled Monday, was
scratched as D Marc Bergevin returned from a back injury to take
injured D Bryan Allen's place. ... Canucks LW Jarkko Ruutu skated
Monday for the first time since injuring his knee 10 days earlier.
He might return later this week.