VANCOUVER (CP) - Brent Burns had a couple of sore ribs after his Minnesota Wild played the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night - but he wasn't complaining.
The 20-year-old defenceman scored with 35.8 seconds remaining in overtime to give Minnesota a wild 3-2 comeback victory over the Canucks at General Motors Place. Right after the goal, Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa took the second-year NHLer down hard to the ice with a hit to the mid-section.
"That was one of the most painful celebrations I've ever had," said Burns after scoring his fifth goal of the season.
Despite the setback Vancouver (41-23-6) retained first place in the tight Northwest Division, one point ahead of second-place Minnesota (40-24-7). But the Wild earned their fifth win in eight meetings between the two clubs as their regular-season series came to a close.
The decisive goal came in a scramble after Marian Gaborik took the puck towards Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo, who was denied the opportunity to become the first goaltender in Canuck history to record 40 wins.
"I think Gabby took Luongo out and it just squirted out to the middle," said Burns. "I just shot. I didn't look."
It was the second straight overtime winner for Burns, who helped Minnesota beat Colorado by the same score Sunday, also in the dying seconds on an assist from Gaborik.
"This one was nicer, because you never want to be on the ice for two goals," said Burns, who was on the ice both times Vancouver scored. "It was nice to get one back for the team."
Gaborik's assist gave him 19 points in his last 15 games. Mikko Koivu and Brian Rolston scored in regulation for Minnesota, which overcame a 2-0 deficit.
Jan Bulis and Matt Cooke scored first-period goals for Vancouver.
With the winning goal, Burns atoned for helping Vancouver go ahead 2-0 at 6:39 of the first when the puck went in off the rearguard's skate.
"I hit (Cooke) and he fell, and then when I went to push my skate, I changed my angle of my skate and it just went off my foot," said Burns. "I didn't even look around. I just heard the crowd going crazy, so I knew it went in. It was just two puck bounces. I was pretty rattled at the bench."
But both Canuck goals were quickly forgotten as Minnesota rallied following the slow start.
Rolston made it 2-2 with only 3:23 remaining in regulation, beating Luongo on a slapshot from just inside the Vancouver blue-line. Luongo had a clear view of the shot, but appeared to misjudge it as the puck went in over his outstretched left leg.
"I just put my head down and shot it," said Rolston. "He came out to cut down the angle and he just didn't get down in time, that's all."
The Wild looked like a much different team than the one that came into Vancouver on an 11-game road winless skid in January. Minnesota is now a respectable 17-18-3 away from home.
"This is a big character win for us," said Rolston. "There's no question. For us to come back like we did, it was big. This is a big game, but at the same time it's a building block. You can't take too much more from it."
The Wild held Vancouver scoreless on seven power-play chances while outshooting hosts 29-24. But Rolston didn't mind that Vancouver retained first place in the Northwest.
"As far as the division, I don't think that's our No. 1 goal," said Rolston. "Our No. 1 goal is to be going on all cylinders when we get in the playoffs."
Luongo said the Canucks let the victory slip away after they had the lead late in the third. He confirmed Rolston's assessment - almost word for word - of the tying goal, saying the shot caught him unprepared.
"He walked in and I came out to challenge, but when he was shooting I wasn't set," said Luongo. "I wasn't able to get the pad down in time."
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault didn't sound overly upset with Luongo or the rest of the club after the Canucks suffered only their 10th loss since Christmas. The Canucks have gone 24-5-5 since Dec. 25.
"People might question the effort, but I don't," said Vigneault. "There's not a lot of room when you play against a team like that."
Bulis opened the scoring 4:37 into the game as he converted a pass from Jeff Cowan. Bulis' shot actually hit the post but the puck then bounced in off Minnesota goaltender Nicklas Backstrom.
Cowan, known more for his toughness than his puck prowess, also assisted on Cooke's goal, giving him eight points in 10 games.
Notes - Centre Nathan Smith played for Vancouver after being called up from Manitoba of the AHL to replace Tommi Santala, who suffered a shoulder injury Sunday against Anaheim . . . Vancouver defenceman Willie Mitchell sat out with a sore groin. Rory Fitzpatrick took his place . . . Manny Fernandez, the Wild's normal starting goalie who returned to the lineup last week from a knee injury, backed up Backstrom for the fourth straight game . . . Wild centre Wes Walz missed his fourth consecutive contest because of a back problem.