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Big third period carries Wild past Canucks 5-2

by John Kreiser /

The Minnesota Wild are becoming third-period terrors.

Antti Miettinen scored two of Minnesota's three goals in the final period and Niklas Backstrom set a franchise record for career wins in the Wild's 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.

Kyle Brodziak, Mikko Koivu and Owen Nolan also scored as Minnesota won its fourth game in a row. The Wild have scored 19 goals during the streak -- nine in the third periods. That includes overcoming a four-goal deficit on Saturday against Chicago.

"If we really believe in ourselves every game and every minute of every game, not just one or two periods of the game, I think we can really be a dangerous team and I think guys are really starting to realize that," Brodziak said.

The Wild had blown a 2-0 lead, but went ahead to stay 68 seconds into the third when Miettinen's one-timed a touch pass from Koivu for a 4-on-3 power-play goal. Nolan's wrist shot from the right dot trickled in off Luongo's glove at 7:50, and Miettinen scored on a slap shot at 9:32 -- giving Minnesota three goals on three shots in the period and sending Luongo to the bench.

"It's been getting into kind of the foundation of our team. That's getting pucks deep, working and getting bodies to the net," coach Todd Richards said. "Our third periods have been strong because it's about the little things."

It was the third time this season Vancouver allowed three third-period goals.

"I have to make some saves," said Luongo, who stopped 14 shots in his 18th consecutive start before being relieved by Andrew Raycroft.

Backstrom stopped 29 shots for his 114th victory with Minnesota. Manny Fernandez held the franchise record with 113 wins from 2000-07. Backstrom needed 209 games to get 114 wins; Fernandez had 113 in 260 games with the Wild.

"It's more about the two points," said Backstrom, playing his fourth season in Minnesota.

After a 5-10-0 start, the Wild has gone 19-10-3 and are now just two points out of a playoff position. That's closest they've been since Oct. 9.

"It's a long road still, but I think everybody in the locker room is very confident with the way we are playing," Miettinen said.

Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows scored for Vancouver, which has lost three straight for the first time since Nov. 6-12. The schedule doesn't get any easier -- the Pittsburgh Penguins come to town on Saturday.

"You can't get too negative," Salo said, "but obviously you have to realize that you're not playing very well so we have to regroup during these two days then we have the Stanley Cup champions coming in and we have to be ready."

Brodziak gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead less 1:58 into the game, redirecting a pass from Latendresse past Luongo.

Koivu beat Luongo with a high wrist shot 1:34 later for a 2-0 lead. It was the first time in 30 games since Nov. 12 that Minnesota scored the game's first two goals.

Kesler cut the Wild lead to 2-1 at 18:12 with a power-play goal, poking in a puck that trickled away from Backstrom after he stopped Mason Raymond's slap shot.

Vancouver dominated the second period, outshooting Minnesota 14-4 and tying the game when Salo's slap shot through traffic was tipped in by Burrows at 15:43. It was Burrows' ninth goal in five games

"We came out really slow from the gates and they controlled pretty much the first 10 minutes of the game and got a 2-0 lead," Salo said. "But I think in the next 30 minutes we regrouped pretty well and came back strong and tied it up going into the third. Obviously in the third we took some penalties and they made some good plays and scored some goals."

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

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