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Booth scores two to give Canucks third win in row

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Vancouver Canucks went with quality over quantity Wednesday against the Minnesota Wild.

Outshot 24-12 through two periods, the Canucks held a two-goal lead which they extended in the third to win 5-2 at Xcel Energy Center.

David Booth scored two goals for the Canucks, who won their third in a row. Zack Kassian, Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin also scored, and Eddie Lack made 29 saves for Vancouver, which was outshot 31-19. The Canucks (34-30-10) moved within four points of the Phoenix Coyotes for the second Western Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with eight games remaining.

The Wild (37-25-11) are three points ahead of the Coyotes for the top wild-card position. Minnesota and Phoenix each has nine games to play.

Vancouver never trailed Wednesday, pouncing on turnovers and taking advantage of the few chances it had. The Canucks scored three times on 12 shots against Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who was replaced by Ilya Bryzgalov at the start of the third period. It was the first time since Jan. 30 Kuemper did not finish a game he started.

"We were opportunistic," Canucks coach John Tortorella said. "We still have a lot of things to continue to work on as we go through the next couple of weeks here, but we're breathing. That's the most important thing, and we found a way."

Booth gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead at 15:39 of the first period, scooping a loose puck off a faceoff in his end. He zoomed down the right wall and slammed on the brakes at the right circle, snapping a shot through Wild defenseman Jonathon Blum's legs and past a screened Kuemper.

"It was good to get a lead at the start," Booth said. "We know this team doesn't give up much. But when you get a lead they have to take more chances. We didn't generate a ton of shots but we capitalized on the ones we did."

Minnesota's Charlie Coyle tied the score by taking advantage of a fortuitous bounce off the glass and rifling a shot over Lack's glove for his 10th of the season at 17:31. Coyle has scored in three straight games.

Midway through the second period, an interference penalty on Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa put the Wild on their second power play. Sensing a critical moment in the game, Tortorella called timeout.

"I don't know if it helped not, but I just don't think we were totally there," Tortorella said.

Whatever Tortorella said, it worked; the Canucks killed the penalty without allowing a shot. Ten seconds later, Booth jumped on a turnover by Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon, snapping a shot over Kuemper's glove at 11:57 to give Vancouver the lead for good.

"That little bounce changed the momentum of the game," Booth said. "I was forcing him. If you're not forcing him he has time to make a play. You just go after him. Luckily, he hesitated and the puck jumped and I was able to create an opportunity."

Kassian made it 3-1 with 56.1 seconds left in the second period when he won a puck battle against Coyle at the left circle and fired a shot through a screen for his 12th of the season.

"Weird game, weird game, that's for sure," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It was weird in the sense that we were getting chances, we're outshooting them by a fairly large margin, but it still didn't feel right."

Vancouver got an insurance goal in the third period when Sedin tipped a Dan Hamhuis shot from the point at 11:12. The goal was his 11th of the season but first since Dec. 30, a span of 23 games played. Kesler scored a power-play goal 49 seconds later, cleaning up a loose puck in front.

"It's been a while but it was probably my worst game out of the 23," Sedin said. "But it was nice. Hopefully it can get me going in the right direction."

Minnesota's Nino Niederreiter got one back at 12:25 of the third period to make it 5-2, firing a shot from the slot past Lack for his 13th of the season.

Lack saw plenty of action and made big saves at crucial times. His glove save from point-blank range on Matt Moulson came nine seconds before Booth's opening goal. Lack stoned Mikael Granlund from in tight in the early moments of the third period when it was 3-1.

The save of the night may have come from Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler. With Vancouver up 2-1 late in the second period, Wild forward Zach Parise slipped a puck through the five-hole of Lack. It reached the goal line before Edler shoveled it away.

"Great play by him," Lack said. "I feel like we're sticking up for each other out there and he made an awesome save at the goal line there. That was a really big save for us."

Vancouver will play the second half of back-to-back games Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche before returning to Rogers Arena for a five-game homestand.

The Wild, who lost in regulation at home for the second time in 14 games, begin a four-game road trip Thursday against the St. Louis Blues, with games against Phoenix, the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks to follow.

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