Monday night at Rogers Arena the Canucks opened a 3-0 lead in the first period thanks to a pair of power play goals, but the most dangerous lead in hockey got the best of the home team with the Wild able to claw back into it to force an exciting finish.
Backed by two goals from Ryan Kesler, including an empty netter with four seconds remaining, and 32 saves from Roberto Luongo, Vancouver topped Minnesota 4-2 for its sixth straight win, in the fifth of six meetings between the Northwest Division foes.
Raffi Torres, Daniel Sedin and Kesler beat Niklas Backstrom in the opening 20 minutes and from there the Canucks were on cruise control. They stopped playing and started taking penalties, six in total, all in the last 40 minutes of the game.
The reassuring news is that the second best penalty kill in the NHL was able to get the job done eliminating every Wild man advantage.
Still, with the second season less than a month away, the Canucks know they need to be playing more disciplined hockey heading into April.
“We made this game a lot more stressful than it needed to be,” said Manny Malhotra, who added two assists to his team-high seven points versus Minnesota this season.
“Especially coming down the stretch, discipline is going to be a key issue for us, we can’t get down to four men in the last few minutes like we have the past couple games, that’s not going to be good going down the stretch. We need to clean that up.”
According to Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, the issue will be addressed immediately.
“Obviously six penalties is a lot, in two of our last three games we’ve taken too many,” said Vigneault. “We’ve been good this year at keeping it to a low number and we’re going to get it back to that.”
The Canucks, always on the bright side of things, were pleased with how they managed to pull out another win, the team’s league leading 24th on home ice, despite shooting themselves in the foot.
You’ve got to hand it to the Canucks, over their last six outings, all wins, they’ve won by one goal, two goals (twice), three goals, in overtime and in a shootout, a sure sign of a team hitting full stride at the right time.
“Yeah, it is a positive,” said Henrik Sedin, who picked up assist 68 on the night. “With this team and the guys we have and the depth we have, we’re not always going to have to play at 100 per cent, but at the same time that’s where we want to be.”
Sami Salo can’t catch a break.
The Canucks are hoping his latest injury isn’t a break.
The veteran defenceman, who returned just 15 games ago after recovering from off-season surgery to fix an Achilles injury, was hit in the left arm by a Kyle Brodziak slapshot late in the first period forcing him to leave the ice.
Salo did not return for the second period and early in the third the media was updated that he would not be coming back for the remainder of the game.
Following the game coach Vigneault insisted Salo’s arm “isn’t broken” and that “he’ll be re-evaluated tomorrow.”
First team to 70, first team to 80, first team to 90 and the Vancouver Canucks are now the first team to 100 points. It’s actually 101 to be precise.
The Canucks re-wrote history books Monday by topping 100 points in just 71 games to smash the previous record of 77 games from 2006-07. Coincidently, last season Vancouver hit 100 points in their 79th game, also against Minnesota.
This is the seventh time Vancouver has eclipsed the century mark and in five of six previous seasons with 100-plus points, the Canucks have made it to the Western Conference Semifinals.
Former Canucks defenceman Harold Snepsts was inducted in Vancouver's Ring of Honour prior to puck drop; Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper was in attedance on Monday, he watched the game from section 106 alongside Canucks legend Trevor Linden and Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Stockwell Day; the Canucks outscored the Wild 13-4 in their last three contests, all Vancouver wins; Chris Higgins appeared in his first home game with the Canucks and the 400th game of his career; Vancouver has won six straight games at Rogers Arena versus Minnesota.