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Vrbata's two goals lead Canucks past Wild

by Dan Myers /

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- After losing six times on a seven-game road trip that concluded last week, the Vancouver Canucks knew a better start was required Wednesday.

Radim Vrbata scored twice and Ryan Miller made 30 saves and the Canucks opened a four-game road trip with a 3-2 win against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

"This is a tough building," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. "Just to get a win here is a good thing for our team and should give us a little bit of confidence moving forward."

Vancouver (9-8-6) overcame a sluggish first period, getting a goal from Vrbata in the final minute that changed the momentum of the game.

The Wild outshot the Canucks 13-9 and appeared ready to carry a 1-0 lead into the first intermission before Vrbata accepted a backhanded drop pass from Jared McCann in the high slot and beat goaltender Devan Dubnyk with a low shot, tying the game 1-1.

"Something wasn't quite right for us at the start of the game," Desjardins said. "That was a goal that got us even for the period that we didn't deserve to be even on."

The Canucks took control of the game in the second period, owning zone time and a 10-5 edge in shots. Vancouver finally cashed in on Vrbata's second goal midway through the period. Henrik Sedin's cross-rink pass deflected off a defenseman's skate in front of Dubnyk, who was caught out of position. Vrbata jumped on the loose puck, shooting between Dubnyk’s glove and the post for his sixth at 11:15.

"Our second period wasn't even close to good, and that's what killed us," Wild forward Charlie Coyle said. "We gave it to them. We weren't close to playing our game; losing battles, no sense of urgency."

Minnesota (11-6-3) lost on home ice for the second time in 10 games.

Dubnyk, making his 18th start in 20 games, finished with 25 saves.

"We've spent all week talking about how great of a home team we are," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We tried to talk our way through that second period. We weren't good enough as a team to win tonight."

Vrbata's second midway through the second and Jannik Hansen's breakaway goal early in the third gave Vancouver a two-goal lead that appeared to be safe.

Minnesota pulled Dubnyk with two minutes remaining and got within one when Ryan Suter's point shot was tipped in front by Coyle with 1:20 remaining.

The Wild pulled Dubnyk again with 44 seconds left and finished the game on the power play after Alexander Edler was called for hooking with 32.4 seconds left.

Miller made a blocker save on Mikael Granlund, Jason Pominville hit the crossbar and Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis made a diving block on a shot by Mikko Koivu with Miller down-and-out in the crease.

Thomas Vanek scored his team-leading ninth goal at 12:39 of the first while on the power play, giving Minnesota a 1-0 lead. Granlund made a nice play along the wall to gain control of the puck, getting it to Koivu. He found Vanek alone in the slot, who rifled a shot over Miller's glove.

"It was one of those nights where we expected to win but didn't put in the work," Vanek said. "For the most part, we have been a solid home team. But after the first, we got away from it and tried long plays and were pretty sloppy for the most part."

Clinging to a 2-1 lead in the third, Hansen gained control of a long outlet feed from Daniel Sedin early in the third and shot it over Dubnyk's blocker for his seventh at 5:31.

"He heads up quick and I took off," Hansen said. "I was fortunate enough for him to find me. We'll take it for sure."

The Canucks will spend Thanksgiving in Dallas. They continue their road trip against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Friday.

Minnesota will play the third of a four-game homestand against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

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