Game Recap

Wild 2, Canucks 1

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 5:16 AM

Associated Press

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Wild 2, Canucks 1
Minnesota Wild 2, Vancouver Canucks 1

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -Niklas Backstrom is at his best when games are on the line. That will come in handy for the Minnesota goalie down the stretch.

Branko Radivojevic scored 1:33 into the third period and Backstrom made 30 saves to lead the Wild to a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.

Brian Rolston also scored for the Wild, who won for just the third time in nine games. Minnesota, which has points in seven straight (3-0-4), moved three points ahead of the Canucks and Calgary, and five up on Colorado in the tight Northwest Division.

"It's been like this for a month or two already, every game is to the last second. You can't have a bad shift or a bad period or a bad game," Backstrom said. "You have to be sharp and be ready form the beginning, but that's what a hockey player wants, you want everything you do out there to count."

Sami Salo answered Radivojevic's goal on a power play three minutes later, but the Canucks failed to build on Thursday's 4-1 victory in Edmonton that extended their winning streak to three games. Vancouver lost for the third time in nine games.

"I might say we played better tonight than we did last night," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "Last night we were able to get goals at timely times and tonight we had the same kind of opportunities but weren't able to score."

Backstrom had something to do with that. He came into the game with 5-1-4 record, 1.84 goals-against average and 93.6 save percentage in his previous 10 starts. He improved on every category against the Canucks.

Backstrom made a handful of solid saves, including a great blocker stop on Salo's hard shot from the top of the circle during a power play, and a couple of early in-tight saves on Ryan Shannon. He also stuffed Jeff Cowan twice on rebounds late in the second period, and robbed Brendan Morrison with the right pad minutes before Salo beat him with a shot through a screen set by Taylor Pyatt.

"He won that game for us for sure," said Radivojevic, who drove hard to the far side of the net to knock in a perfect cross-ice backdoor feed from Pavol Demitra to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead.

After a dull, tight-checking first period, Rolston opened the scoring on a power play 5 minutes into the second with a point shot that hit Canucks defenseman Willie Mitchell on the right hip at the side of the crease and fluttered in behind helpless goalie Roberto Luongo.

"Clean living I guess," Rolston said. "That was going probably 2 feet wide and it went off Willie. So it was a nice break for us early."

The Canucks goaltender agreed.

"They got really lucky on the first goal and really that was the difference right there," said Luongo, who finished with 19 saves.

Notes: Playing their first game since D Kurtis Foster broke his leg during a collision in San Jose, the Wild got an assist from veteran D Sean Hill, who was a healthy scratch for 14 of the previous 20 games. He is now being counted on to fill some of Foster's minutes. ... Minnesota will play at Calgary on Saturday night. Vancouver's next game is also at Calgary on Tuesday.

scoring summary
1st Period
2nd Period
PPG - Brian Rolston (28) ASST: Pavol Demitra (30), Sean Hill (4)
1 - 0 MIN
3rd Period
Branko Radivojevic (6) ASST: Pavol Demitra (31)
2 - 0 MIN
PPG - Sami Salo (6) ASST: Daniel Sedin (42), Henrik Sedin (55)
2 - 1 MIN
Power Play Stats
Power Plays1/61/4
Power Play %20.8%21.0%
% on Road16.7%18.2%
% at Home25.0%24.3%
League Rank9th7th
penalty summary
1st Period
Markus Naslund  Interference against  Todd Fedoruk
Alexander Edler  Holding against  Todd Fedoruk
2nd Period
Todd Fedoruk  Tripping against  Willie Mitchell
Rick Rypien  Hooking against  Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Kevin Bieksa  Slashing against  Mikko Koivu
Pavol Demitra  Slashing against  Trevor Linden
Alexandre Burrows  Interference on goalkeeper against  Niklas Backstrom
Todd Fedoruk  Interference against  Kevin Bieksa
3rd Period
Keith Carney  Cross checking against  Trevor Linden
Nathan McIver  Interference against  Benoit Pouliot
goalie stats
Niklas Backstrom
SA: 31TOI: 60:00
Saves: 30EV: 28 - 28
PIM: 0PP: 2 - 3
SV%: .968SH: 0 - 0
Roberto Luongo
SA: 21TOI: 58:56
Saves: 19EV: 10 - 11
PIM: 0PP: 8 - 9
SV%: .905SH: 1 - 1