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Canucks beat Wild 2-1 to end slump

by John Kreiser
Cory Schneider picked the right time to come up with his first NHL victory.

With Vancouver reeling after losing its four previous games, Schneider stopped 16 shots and made Jason Jaffray's tie-breaking goal early in the second period stand up to give the Canucks a 2-1 victory at Minnesota on Friday night.

"It's a great feeling, kind of like a monkey off your back," Vancouver's first-round pick in 2004 said of the win.

Schneider, who was 10-1 with Manitoba of the AHL before being called after Roberto Luongo went down with a groin injury two weeks ago, got a lot of help from his teammates. Vancouver outshot Minnesota 31-17 and beat the Wild for the third time in as many meetings this season to move past them into first place in the Northwest Division.

"They didn't give us much," Wild center Eric Belanger said. "In the first period and a half, I'd say we were chasing the puck everywhere on the ice. It's hard to get anything going. You can't get your legs going. You can't get your hands. Your mind is not there, because you don't have the puck and you're thinking about it too much."

The only shot to get past Schneider came 27 seconds into the second period, when Mikko Koivu hammered a long rebound past him from 25 feet to tie the game at 1-1. Kevin Bieksa's power-play goal 13:55 into the first period had put the Canucks ahead.

But Jaffray put Vancouver in front to stay tie at 3:52 when he took a drop pass from Jannik Hansen and beat Niklas Backstrom from the left circle for his first goal of the season.

"It wasn't exactly the hardest, most accurate shot, but I'll take them however they come," he said.

The division rivals played like a couple of teams that don't like each other. Minnesota's Brent Burns leveled Vancouver center Alex Burrows barely 20 seconds into the game to set the tone of the game, and there were altercations in both the first and third periods.

"It was an intense-played game from the start, a physical game," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "That permitted us to really get involved and execute throughout the game. We were definitely better defensively tonight, and when we did make mistakes our goaltender came up with big saves."

It was a disappointing night for the Wild, which was coming off a solid 4-0 win over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. Minnesota wrapped up a stretch of eight out of nine games at home with a 3-5-0 record. The stretch started and finished with losses to the Canucks.


"We have to play with more intensity when you play a team like this," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "They don't give you much room, so if you're not skating you're in trouble."

Minnesota also lost another player when Owen Nolan left in the first period with what was called a lower-body injury and did not return. Nolan missed eight of the Wild's first 24 games with injuries.

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

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