|MIN||2||0||1||1||(0 - 0)||4|
|VAN||0||1||2||0||(0 - 0)||3|
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom didn't get long to think about being pulled Friday night in Edmonton. Maybe that was a good thing.
Backstrom made 37 saves, Marc-Andre Bergeron scored his second goal on a power play 2:02 into overtime, and the Minnesota Wild recovered after blowing a late lead to beat the free-falling Vancouver Canucks 4-3 on Saturday night.
"When you've been pulled you start to worry about it, think too much and maybe it hurts your confidence," said Backstrom, who was pulled 23 minutes into the 3-1 loss in Edmonton after giving up three goals on 11 shots. "You want to get out there and bounce back and the next game is always tough for that."
It didn't get any easier when the Canucks tied it on a power play with 15.3 seconds left in regulation. Ryan Kesler scored his second goal with Brent Burns in the penalty box for tripping and Roberto Luongo on the bench, pouncing on a rebound in the slot and lifting Vancouver's 40th shot of the game past a helpless Backstrom.
It was the second blown lead of the game for the Wild, but they didn't give the Canucks a chance to tie it a third time. With Daniel Sedin off for tripping Mikko Koivu in overtime, Bergeron one-timed a shot that deflected off Canucks forward Ryan Johnson's leg as he dropped to block the shot, and past Luongo.
"You can't be too happy they tie it with 15 seconds left. You need to find a way to battle through that and kill the time," Backstrom said. "But it showed the character of the hockey team to bounce back and score in overtime."
Koivu also scored, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard had three assists, including on the winning goal, as Minnesota moved into a five-way tie with Edmonton, Phoenix, Columbus and Dallas for the last three playoff spots in the Western Conference.
"We arrived late last night, I'm sure everybody felt not so good but everybody found a way to dig deep," said Bergeron, who also had an assist. "We all knew what was on the table. We had to win this one and just keep being in the mix.
Luongo finished with 23 saves for the Canucks, who have lost eight straight (0-5-3) games to fall into 11th place - just one point behind Minnesota.
It was the ninth straight loss on home ice (0-6-3) for the Canucks, two short of the franchise-record winless streak set in the inaugural 1970-71 season.
"We never stopped fighting," Kesler said. "We were down 2-0 and it was going to be easy to quit and we didn't. We clawed our way back into it and found another way to get back into it. It was a tough way to lose at the end."
With Vancouver down 2-0 after Koivu and Bergeron scored 4 minutes apart midway through the first period, Kesler started the first comeback on a partial breakaway on a power play 4 minutes into the second period. Kesler appeared to steer the rebound in with his foot after Backstrom stopped his first shot, but there was no distinct kicking motion, so after a lengthy video review the goal stood.
Vancouver had a great chance to tie it when Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck was given a 5-minute penalty and game misconduct for boarding on a hit that left Alex Burrows bleeding just over 2 minutes later. But Backstrom stopped all nine shots on the ensuing power play, including a left pad robbery of Daniel Sedin on the goal line, and Kyle Wellwood whiffed on two great chances at empty nets.
"We beat them because of Nik," said Wild coach Jacques Lemaire, who didn't agree with the 5-minute penalty that left him short up front and forced defenseman Brent Burns to pay prolonged stretches as a forward.
"I was really surprised because it looked worse than it was to me. The referee told Clutterbuck he went for his head and I don't think that was the case. He deserved 2 minutes for sure, and if he's bleeding, 4 minutes."
Alexander Elder tied it 3 minutes into the third for the Canucks, but less than a minute after Henrik Sedin rang a shot off the post, the Wild were back in front again. Bouchard's cross-ice pass off the rush got Luongo moving to his left, allowing Eric Belanger to cut back across the slot and wire a shot just past the goalie's outstretched blocker.
Luongo kept it close with a sprawling blocker save to take an empty net away Bouchard. But the diminutive Wild forward got the last laugh with soft pass to Bergeron in overtime, his third first assist of the game.
"I had a good shot and tried to go up but he s a great goalie, an all-star goalie, so he can make that kind of save," said Bouchard, robbed twice by Luongo in an earlier loss. "So I started trying to set up my teammates."
Notes: Canucks RW Mason Raymond, who played for the sophomore team in the YoungStars game as part of the NHL All-Star weekend, was a healthy scratch after going without a point for 10 games. D Shane O Brien also was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. ... Minnesota, which improved to 11-12-0 on the road, opens a four-game homestand Wednesday against Anaheim. ... Vancouver won the first three games of the season series in regulation.
|PPG - Mikko Koivu (14) Backhand shot - ASST: Brent Burns (13), Marc-Andre Bergeron (14)|
1 - 0 MIN
|Marc-Andre Bergeron (6) Slapshot - ASST: Pierre-Marc Bouchard (18)|
2 - 0 MIN
|PPG - Ryan Kesler (10) Wrist shot - ASST: Mattias Ohlund (12), Kevin Bieksa (20)|
2 - 1 MIN
|Alexander Edler (4) Slapshot - ASST: Henrik Sedin (38)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Eric Belanger (10) Wrist shot - ASST: Pierre-Marc Bouchard (19)|
3 - 2 MIN
|PPG - Ryan Kesler (11) Wrist shot - ASST: Sami Salo (9), Alexander Edler (16)|
3 - 3 Tie
|PPG - Marc-Andre Bergeron (7) Slapshot - ASST: Pierre-Marc Bouchard (20), Marek Zidlicky (18)|
4 - 3 MIN
|Kevin Bieksa Hi-sticking against Stephane Veilleux|
|Willie Mitchell Roughing against Cal Clutterbuck|
|James Sheppard Hooking against Taylor Pyatt|
|Mats Sundin Holding against Mikko Koivu|
|Owen Nolan Hooking against Mattias Ohlund|
|Cal Clutterbuck Game misconduct against Alexandre Burrows|
|Cal Clutterbuck Boarding (maj) against Alexandre Burrows|
|Mats Sundin Hooking against Dan Fritsche|
|Brent Burns Tripping against Henrik Sedin|
|Daniel Sedin Hooking against Mikko Koivu|