The Vancouver Canucks took down the Minnesota Wild 5-1 Friday night at Rogers Arena in the second game between Northwest Division foes in four days.
Tuesday night in Minnesota the Wild hung the Canucks out to dry and on this night Vancouver returned the favour.
Redemption came in the way of a complete team win, similar to Vancouver’s last home victory over Carolina. Four different Canucks found the scoresheet, including Manny Malhotra who scored his first and second goals as a Canuck and added an assist for good measure to help Vancouver improve to 3-3-2.
“It’s always nice to score, but more importantly we played a really great game today and got ourselves back on the winning track,” said Malhotra.
The Wild were coming off a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers a night earlier and their exhaustion was evident. The Canucks took advantage off the hop outshooting the visitors 10-5 in the opening period with Raffi Torres scoring the lone Vancouver goal, the 100th of his career.
Just one goal from the Canucks in a dominant second frame as Ryan Kesler found the back of the net for the second time on a rebound off an Andrew Alberts point shot.
In the final period it was a race for the third goal of the game and Malhotra was happy to supply it, an easy tap in at the side of the net off a great pass from Alex Edler. He added an insurance marker five minutes later to ice Vancouver’s third win of the season and first over a Western Conference opponent.
“I think our puck management was way better,” assessed Malhotra. “They’re a team that really thrives on turnovers and the transition game. Our D did a good job of quick upping the puck, getting the pucks behind their D and allowing us to forecheck and create offence.”
It didn’t hurt the Canucks that Cory Schneider was lights out in goal in his second straight home start.
Schneider stopped 23 shots, including 13 in the second period. He’s now 2-0-0 on the season having allowed only two goals.
“It’s nice when your team averages five goals a game for you offensively,” laughed Schneider. “We seem to be comfortable here at home and we really buzz and put a lot of pressure on other teams.”
Jeff Tambellini had the fifth Canucks goal, while Antti Miettinen scored for the Wild.
He didn’t get the shutout, he got something better.
Not only was Cory Schneider rewarded for his fine play with his second win of the season, but for his quality stick work he earned his first career NHL point, a second assist on Manny Malhotra’s second goal.
“My first career point, I don’t count on many of those,” joked Schneider. “Rollie (Melanson) has been working a lot with us on stick work and trying to deflect passes from behind the net and sure enough that’s what it was so five him some credit for that.”
Schneider was in line for his first career NHL shutout until late in the third period when Antti Miettinen flipped a seemingly harmless puck on goal. It hit the goaltender’s glove and trickled over the line.
“I almost got too much of it, if it would have just glanced off it, it might have gone over the net. I got a good piece of it and it just popped up but Bieksa and Glass made a great effort to try to keep it out.”
The rookie tender was looking to become the 30th goalie in Canucks franchise history to post a shutout.
With another solid showing, he’ll be between the pipes vying to become the 30th before long. Vancouver can’t deny him playing time with how he’s performed.
“It’s great getting playing time, especially when you have a team like that playing in front of you in both starts I’ve had. It’s made my life easy and I’m getting comfortable in there and can hopefully take on some bigger roles on the road or some tougher games in the future.”
Pick a line, any line. It doesn’t matter to Jeff Tambellini which forward unit he’s a part of, he’s just happy to be in the line-up.
With that in mind, you can imagine his reaction to finding out he’d play third Sedin to the twins against the Wild.
“I heard a brief rumour before the game that I was going to go, but I wasn’t too sure about it,” said Tambellini. “I found out just when I got to the rink and I was pretty excited to have that opportunity.”
The kid made the most of it as Vancouver’s top line gave Minnesota fits in the opening period, although they were unable to add to the Canucks lead. It was only a matter time before they struck, however, and Tambellini provided the shot.
With 2:20 remaining in the third, Henrik Sedin sent Tambellini in alone on Jose Theodore. A laser top right corner later and the forward had his first goal with the Canucks.
“What a pass. I think he put it through both his skate and his stick and it was a great play. I just tried to get up the ice and get it up.
“I think when you’re given the chance to play with two elite guys, you want to make an impact right away. I think we felt we were due for a couple from the first and we got a nice break at the end there.”
A true dream come true for the longtime Canucks fan.
“That felt good. This building is a great place to play; the people care so much about the game that to wear this uniform and play for this team is pretty special.”
Daniel Sedin had the second assists on Jeff Tambellini’s goal to extend his point streak to eight games; the Canucks had 21 shots blocked and missed the net with another 20 against the Wild; Friday’s game was the 312th consecutive sellout for the Canucks, a streak that began on November 14, 2002.