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Battered Canucks top Wild 4-1

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Kevin Bieksa exemplifies the grit that has carried the Vancouver Canucks to the top of the NHL standings.

With the Canucks' defense already riddled by injuries, Bieksa took a shot off his foot early in the first period during Tuesday night's game at Minnesota and limped toward the dressing room. But instead of leaving, Bieksa turned around and played the rest of the game.

"One of those things where you take a shot and play through it. All the guys are doing it," he said.

It's that kind of grit that carried the Canucks to a 4-1 victory against the Wild on Tuesday night.

Manny Malhotra had a goal and an assist, backup goalie Cory Schneider stopped 27 shots and the battered Canucks won in Minnesota for the first time in their last five tries despite registering just one shot on goal in the third period. Jannik Hansen, Mikael Samuelsson and Ryan Kesler had the other goals for Vancouver.

"Come playoff time, you have to be able to win in any building and not let things get to you," Schneider said. "We had a pretty gritty effort, not the prettiest one, but I think everyone chipped in and did what we had to do."

Despite outshooting the Canucks 29-14, the Wild lost a game on a night when a win would have put them into the top eight in the West. Cal Clutterbuck scored the lone goal for Minnesota, his fourth goal in three games.

"It's definitely frustrating. We've been playing so well," defenseman Clayton Stoner said. "It wasn't a real fast game, the first period. I feel like the second half of the game, we dominated. We deserved a better fate for sure."

The Canucks hold a comfortable lead in the West despite a rash of injuries to their defensemen. Andrew Alberts was the latest to go down when he broke his wrist in Monday's loss to St. Louis. Four Vancouver blueliners have been injured in the last week, which made Schneider's performance even more impressive.

Starter Roberto Luongo has failed to finish the last three games against the Wild, all lopsided losses. Schneider took his place Tuesday and turned away bursts by the Wild at the start of the game and again early in the third period.

"Some of our Ds played a lot of minutes and we had a couple of kids back there getting their first taste of a real serious push," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "The difference maker was obviously Schneider."

Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom lost for the third time in his last eight games.

Malhotra beat Backstrom 5:15 into the game by deflecting Sami Salo's slap shot. The goal stood after a review to make sure Malhotra's stick was not above the crossbar. Clutterbuck tied it at 17:02.

Hansen's backhander got past a sprawling Backstrom at 12:49 of the second and Samuelsson scored with 19 seconds remaining in the period.

"Those are the chances that win and lose you hockey games and lately that has been us scoring those goals," Stoner said.

Kesler scored into an empty net with 16 seconds remaining on the Canucks' only shot of the period.

The Wild visit Chicago on Wednesday night.

"We had a nice little winning streak and now we lost," Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. "We have to regroup and come out tomorrow and try to start another winning streak."

The Wild had outscored Vancouver 21-6 in the previous four games at the Xcel Energy Center.

"Tonight we wanted to play better than we have the last four games here," Vigneault said. "I think we did that for two periods and we hung in there in the third."

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report

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