Make it six in a row for the Vancouver Canucks
Raffi Torres provided a quick start and the power play did the rest Monday night as the streaking Vancouver Canucks
defeated the Minnesota Wild
4-2 at Rogers Arena.
Torres scored on the Canucks' second shot of the game while Daniel Sedin
and Ryan Kesler
had power-play goals to stake Vancouver to a 3-0 lead. Kesler scored his career-high 36th goal of the season into an empty net with 3.4 seconds remaining.
It was Vancouver's first home game after sweeping a five-game road trip.
"With the team and the guys and the depth we have, we aren't always going to have to play at 100 percent, but at the same time that's where we want to be," captain Henrik Sedin
Andrew Brunette ended Minnesota's goal drought by beating netminder Roberto Luongo
late in the second period. The Wild had been shut out in back-to-back losses to Nashville and Dallas. Mikko Koivu
also scored for Minnesota.
The Canucks improved to 46-16-9 and hit the 100-point plateau faster than any other season in club history. Vancouver is 10 points clear of Philadelphia for the over-all NHL lead and 11 points ahead of Detroit for top spot in the Western Conference.
The Wild lost their third consecutive game to drop to 35-28-7 and remain four points out of a playoff spot in the tightly contested West. It was also Minnesota's sixth straight loss at Vancouver.
"You can't look behind. You've got to look forward. We're still right there," Koivu said. "We had plenty of chances to score but just couldn't put it in the net. Obviously, that's what counts. Give them some credit, but you've got to believe that chances like that, sooner or later, will go in."
The Canucks didn't rest on their road trip success, with Torres scoring on his first shift of the game. He took Manny Malhotra
's pass at the Wild blue line and ripped a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle past the blocker of netminder Niklas Backstrom
Sedin and Kesler's goals gave the Canucks' power play eight goals in its past 15 man advantage situations. Both goals came with Minnesota defenseman Clayton Stoner
in the penalty box in his first game back from a groin injury.
Stoner had barely sat down when Sedin scored his sixth goal in six games and 38th of the season, also shooting from the left circle.
Kesler, who screened Backstrom for Sedin, backhanded home a rebound.
The first power-play goal took six seconds, the second 69 after a puck control exhibition by Vancouver.
The goal-starved Wild had early chances, but were stifled by Luongo.
He foiled Martin Havlat's first-minute break-in, turned aside a Brodziak deflection, was quick to cover a goalmouth scramble and stuck out a pad to beat Brent Burns' rebound attempt.
In the second period, he helped the Canucks stave off three consecutive penalties, including a one minute 29-second two-man advantage.
"You need something on a power play, Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. "The difference is they won the special teams game tonight, scoring two themselves and we didn't get any."
Brunette finally got to Luongo late in the period when he tipped in Koivu's centering pass after defender Keith Ballard
failed to control the puck along the end boards.
Koivu drew the Wild to within a goal early in the third period when he backhanded home Brunette's rebound after Luongo made the initial save. Koivu returned to the Wild lineup after missing 11 games with a broken finger. Also back was Cal Clutterbuck
, sidelined five games by an upper-body injury.
"We made this game a lot more stressful than it needed to be," Malhotra said. "Especially coming down the stretch, discipline is going to be a key issue for us, we can't get down to four men in the last few minutes like we have the past couple games, that's not going to be good going down the stretch. We need to clean that up."
Vancouver's victory didn't come without a price. Defenseman Sami Salo
suffered an undisclosed injury and did not return after being hit by a Kyle Brodziak
shot late in the first period. Salo missed the first 55 games of the campaign after severing an Achilles tendon during the offseason.
"He took that shot off the arm there … it's not broken," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "We'll see how he is tomorrow."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.