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Canucks battle Blue Jackets in BC

Mar 1, 2011 - 4:30 PM (Sports Network) - The Canucks didn't make too much noise prior to Monday's trade deadline, but added a few pieces for their legitimate run at the Stanley Cup.

The Blue Jackets believe they picked up a pair of players that will help get them back into the playoffs for just the second time in club history.

Both clubs will have slightly altered looks tonight, when Vancouver goes for a sixth straight victory over Columbus in this meeting at Rogers Arena.

The Canucks come out of the trade deadline first overall in the NHL with 87 points and lead the Northwest Division by a sizeable 14 points. However, they have alternated wins and losses over their last 10 games and haven't won back- to-back contests since a six-game run from Jan. 24-Feb. 7.

With the Flyers one point back of the Canucks in the overall standings and the Red Wings pulling within three, Vancouver made a pair of trades on Monday to add depth.

The Canucks added center Maxim Lapierre and minor league forward MacGregor Sharp from the Ducks for forward Joel Perrault and a third-round pick and also traded for Florida winger Chris Higgins, sending defensive prospect Evan Oberg and a third-round pick to the Panthers.

Lapierre, who was traded for the second time this season, has five goals and six assists in 59 games with Montreal and Anaheim this year, while Higgins has 11 goals and 12 assists in 48 games. Higgins is currently sidelined with a recently-suffered broken finger, but did say the injury is not as severe as originally thought.

"We added a little bit of a different element than we possess on this team currently," said Canucks general manager Mike Gillis. "With Chris Higgins we have a player who can move up and down the lineup and with Max Lapierre we have a third-line slash four-line player that can add some sandpaper and a different dimension that we don't currently have."

Vancouver has been out of action since a 3-1 loss to Boston on Saturday. Manny Malhotra scored in the first period and Roberto Luongo made 22 saves for the Canucks, who haven't lost two straight in regulation since Nov. 20-21. They are also 2-2 on a six-game homestand.

The Canucks have outscored the Blue Jackets, 25-14, over their five-game series winning streak and own a pair of victories over the club already this year. Ryan Kesler had a hat trick in a 3-2 overtime win at home on Dec. 15, while Raffi Torres had a pair of goals and Henrik Sedin logged a goal and three assists in a 7-3 win at Columbus eight days later.

Columbus has lost two straight and seven of its last 11 at Vancouver, and had a three-game winning streak end on Sunday with a 3-2 loss to Nashville. The Blue Jackets are still 8-2-1 in their last 11 games and are four points back of a playoff spot.

Given their status in the standings, the Blue Jackets added a pair of players on Monday, getting forward Scottie Upshall and young defenseman Sami Lepisto from Phoenix for a minor league forward and blueliner Rostislav Klesla, who was Columbus' first ever draft pick (fourth overall in 2000) and the last remaining link to the inaugural 2000-01 roster.

Upshall was tied for the Coyotes' lead in goals with 16 to go along with 11 assists, while Lepisto had four goals and seven assists. Both should be in the lineup tonight and Lepisto is expected to replace Anton Stralman at the blue line after he suffered a lower-body injury in Sunday's loss that is expected to sideline him for 3-to-4 weeks.

"We hope [Upshall] is going to give us an offensive jolt. He's got speed, he's got tenacity, he's got some experience, he's played with [Columbus forward R.J.] Umberger before in Philadelphia," said Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson.

"Sami Lepisto, I think, is an underrated guy. He moves the puck well."

Kris Russell and Matt Calvert scored in Sunday's setback to the Predators, which was Columbus' 16th in a row at Nashville. Mathieu Garon made 25 saves as the Blue Jackets had a six-game road winning streak end in the first contest of a five-game swing.

The 21-year-old Calvert has 10 goals over his first 21 NHL games, including five in his last four games. He netted a hat trick in last Friday's win over the Coyotes.