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Canucks keep winning without secondary scoring

The Vancouver Canucks may have a quintet of forwards in deep scoring slumps, but head coach Alain Vigneault isn't upset because the team is still winning.

"That should be everybody's focus," Vigneault said heading into Thursday's home game against the San Jose Sharks. "Our guys might be having a tough time finishing, but as far as on the ice, they're doing the right things."

The Canucks are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, a remarkable record given that their secondary scoring has all but dried up, putting a disproportionate burden on the Sedins' line and Ryan Kesler.

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Manny Malhotra and Jeff Tambellini, Vancouver's third- and fourth-line centres, respectively, are without a point in that stretch. Raffi Torres has three assists, Mikael Samuelsson has but one, and Mason Raymond has one goal and three points. Raymond and Tambellini have been demoted to the fourth line, while Samuelsson is now skating with Kesler and rookie Sergei Shirokov on the second unit.

"I've got something to work with," Samuelsson said of his new linemates. "It's more important that we're winning games than if I'm in a slump or someone else is in a slump. There's always going to be a few guys in a slump."

The Canucks will go with the same lineup that lost 4-3 in overtime against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

The Sharks, meanwhile, welcome two new faces in forwards Kyle Wellwood and Ben Eager.

Wellwood, the former Canuck and Toronto Maple Leaf, was claimed on waivers from the St. Louis Blues, who signed him earlier this week. Eager was acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Thrashers.

Antti Niemi will start in goal for the Sharks. As a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, Niemi beat the Canucks in a second-round playoff series last spring.

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About the Author
B.C. sports correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Matthew spearheads the Globe's sports coverage in B.C., and spends most of his time with the NHL Canucks and CFL Lions. He has worked for four dailies and TSN since graduating from Carleton University's School of Journalism a decade ago, and has covered the Olympic Games, Super Bowls, Grey Cups, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the NBA Finals. More

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