Crowded house this week

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

Vancouver Canucks' goaltender Dan Cloutier was given a break Monday after the team returned home with four of six points on a California road trip.

Head coach Marc Crawford said Cloutier deserved the time off-ice to rest after a physical trio of games.

"In order to save goals in the much more offensive National Hockey League, this year you have to create traffic," Crawford said. "(Dan's) conditioning allows him to be a physical goaltender, if you want to categorize it as that. He's learned he's got to be as much in control of his movement and let himself feel the game."

Cloutier will also be rested tonight as Crawford plans to start backup Alex Auld against the Chicago Blackhawks, who are 9-11 and making their second appearance of the young season at GM Place (7 p.m., CKNW/S'net).

Blackhawks are having trouble keeping pucks out of the net, despite signing free agent netminder Nikolai Khabibulin away from the Stanley Cup-champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Blackhawks have allowed 74 goals -- only one less than St. Louis Blues' 75.

Canucks had no trouble with Chicago during their first visit Oct. 18 when they potted a trio of goals in the first 6:03.

The 8-8-3 San Jose Sharks venture north seeking revenge Thursday after last Wednesday's 3-1 loss to the Canucks at the Shark Tank (7 p.m. CKNW/Sportsnet).

Canuck Richard Park broke out of a scoring slump to notch Vancouver's first short handed goal of the season. Ed Jovanovski had a goal and an assist as Vancouver opened a three-game California road trip with the 3-1 win.

They'll be back to sunnier climes Saturday when they hit the road for a pair on consecutive nights.

In Glendale, Arizona they'll meet the Wayne Gretzky-coached Phoenix Coyotes for the third time on Saturday (7 p.m., CKNW/CBC). Canucks edged the desert dogs by 3-2 margins at GM Place on opening night Oct. 5 and again just over a fortnight later on Oct. 20.

The road trip ends without rest in Denver Sunday (6 p.m. CKNW/S'net) where the Canucks were spanked 6-2 and 4-3 on Oct. 27 and 29, respectively, by the Colorado Avalanche and leading scorer Alex Tanguay. Canucks will have to jump to a quicker start in all four games, admits captain Markus Naslund.

"It's something we're working on," Naslund said. "We want to have a great regular season. If we can figure it out, we still have time to do it."

Meanwhile, forward Matt Cooke trained with the Canucks Monday. He's halfway through rehabilitation after suffering a broken jaw in practice 20 days ago. He said the injury has not affected his conditioning.


Videos

Photos