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game recap

Wild defeat Canucks, gain in Central Division

Staal scores 37th, helps Minnesota move within six points of second place

by Kevin Woodley / Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- The Minnesota Wild moved within six points of second place in the Central Division with a 5-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Friday.

Eric Staal broke a tie with his 37th goal, and Zach Parise, Matt Cullen, Charlie Coyle and Marcus Foligno scored for the Wild (39-22-7), who have won three straight and eight of 10. Devan Dubnyk made 30 saves for his 30th win of the season.

Minnesota maintained its three-point lead over the Dallas Stars for third place in the Central, and moved six points behind the Winnipeg Jets for second.


[WATCH: All Wild vs. Canucks highlights]


"As a group, we are getting excited," said Cullen, who also had an assist. "We are playing some good hockey and things are coming together at the right time and there is a light at the end of the tunnel."

Staal gave the Wild a 3-2 lead at 15:38 of the second period when he got inside defenseman Troy Stecher at the edge of the crease and redirected a backdoor pass from Mikael Granlund for his fourth goal in the past three games and 11th in the past nine.

"I had body position and [Granlund] made a great play," Staal said. "You have to be in that area and right now they are going in, so it's a nice feeling."

Video: MIN@VAN: Parise banks puck in from sharp angle

Coyle scored into an empty net with 43.6 seconds left to make it 4-2, and Foligno scored on a rebound with 13.8 remaining for a 5-2 lead.

"Especially on the road, you need to have everybody going and if we can get a good vibe throughout our lineup with guys contributing on the nights we need them, it's big," Staal said.

Michael Del Zotto and Jussi Jokinen scored, and Anders Nilsson made 31 saves for the Canucks (25-34-9), who are 1-3-2 in their past six games. Vancouver is 20 points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

"Everyone has lots to play for here," Del Zotto said. "Everyone is playing for a job. We have a lot to play for. It's a tough league to stay in."

Del Zotto scored 53 seconds into the first period to make it 1-0, collecting a loose puck near the post after his initial shot tricked through Dubnyk and wrapping it in on the other side.

Video: MIN@VAN: Del Zotto scores in opening minute

Parise tied it 1-1 with a sharp-angle shot over Nilsson's shoulder 49 seconds later, and Cullen put Minnesota ahead 2-1 on a pretty play at 2:46 of the second period. Tyler Ennis hit Cullen cutting into the slot with a cross-ice pass off the rush, forcing Nilsson to move right, and Cullen pulled the puck back across the crease before tucking in his 10th goal of the season.

Cullen, who was robbed by Nilsson on three other chances, has scored five goals in the past 10 games. The 41-year-old center, a Minnesota native, won the Stanley Cup the past two seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins before signing with the Wild as a free agent on Aug. 16.

"I really enjoy this time of year," said Cullen, who also won the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. "I get excited about what lies in front when the games get big and everything becomes more magnified and more important. That's why I still play, I do love this time of year."

Jokinen tied it 2-2 on a rebound off the rush at 7:51, his second goal in as many games after not scoring since Nov. 30.


Goal of the game

Staal's goal at 15:38 of the second period.

Video: MIN@VAN: Staal tips in Granlund's shot for lead


Save of the game

Dubnyk's save on Nic Dowd at 10:18 of the third period.

Video: MIN@VAN: Dubnyk shuts down Dowd's point-blank try


Highlight of the game

Cullen's goal at 2:46 of the second period.

Video: MIN@VAN: Cullen dekes to backhand to beat Nilsson


They said it

"I thought that might have been Matt Cullen's best game this year for us. … Here's a guy that has won two Stanley Cups in a row, I don't think the first 10 games of the season is going to make or break him, but now you can tell that he is amping it up, so hopefully this is a continued thing because he is scoring fairly regular now." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau


"We can't find any excuses. Everyone needs to look at themselves in the mirror and think about what everyone can bring to the table. For me, it's simple, I need to find one or two more saves." -- Canucks goalie Anders Nilsson


Need to know

Matt Dumba, Jared Spurgeon and Gustav Olofsson each had an assist, giving Minnesota 170 points (35 goals, 135 assists) from defensemen, a new single-season Wild record, in 68 games. They had 169 points (42 goals, 127 assists) last season. … Nilsson, who is 1-10-2 since Nov. 30, started for the first time in seven games after Jacob Markstrom missed practice Thursday because he wasn't feeling well.


What's next

Wild: At the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; CBC, SN, FS-N, NHL.TV)

Canucks: At the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday (9 p.m. ET; FS-A, SNP, NHL.TV)


Video: Staal, Dubnyk lead Wild past Canucks, 5-2

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