The Minnesota Wild
once again found a way to beat the Vancouver Canucks
on Sunday night.
Mainly, it was due to the play of Anton Khudobin.
Khudobin stopped 32 shots for his first career shutout and the Wild beat the Canucks 4-0 at the Xcel Energy Center.
Andrew Brunette, Martin Havlat, Matt Cullen
and John Madden scored for the Wild, who had been outscored 13-2 in three straight losses.
"We're a strange team, there's no doubt about it, Brunette said. "You never know what's going to show up."
Vancouver has lost two of three after a 17-game unbeaten streak. The Canucks are 1-2-0 against Minnesota this season, but 10-0-0 against the rest of the Northwest Division. Vancouver has lost its last four in Minnesota by a combined 21-6. Minnesota is the first team to beat Vancouver twice in regulation this season.
"There's a lot of good teams out there, and this is one of them," Canucks winger Mikael Samuelsson
said of the Wild.
Khudobin was recalled from Houston of the AHL Jan. 8 after it was determined top goaltender Niklas Backstrom
would be out for about another week with an injured hip. Jose Theodore, who took over the top goaltender duties, then sustained a similar injury and Khudobin has started two straight.
Backstrom was in uniform for the first time since Dec. 31, serving as the backup.
In his fifth career game, Khudobin was aided by a Wild defense that did a nice job of collapsing around their goaltender to not allow quality rebound opportunities. Two of his better stops came in the third period. He lunged back across the crease to stop Henrik Sedin
on a power play and stopped Keith Ballard
with a right pad save.
"Good teams like that don't play 40 minutes, they play 60 full minutes and it doesn't matter what the score is. They just play as hard as they can, so I was ready for that," Khudobin said.
Vancouver's best scoring chance was late in the first period, but Minnesota defenseman Brent Burns swatted a puck out of the crease as it was about to trickle over the goal line.
After dominating the first period, including getting the game's first nine shots, Brunette gave the Wild a 1-0 lead early in the second period. He was stopped coming in from the right side, but goaltender Cory Schneider
couldn't cover the puck, and after a scramble, Brunette dove back to poke it in.
Havlat benefited from an Alex Edler turnover midway through the period, picking up a loose puck in the neutral zone, going in alone and beating Schneider through the pads.
Cullen made it 3-0 on a shorthanded breakaway early in the third after Christian Ehrhoff failed to hold the puck in at the left point. It was Cullen's third short-handed goal of the season, tying him with four other players for the league lead.
Madden scored on a tip midway through the period.
"That Cullen goal was a huge goal," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "It's 2-0 and they were pushing and they're a talented team. They can score quick and can score often, so when the puck went in, I sensed that was enough."
Vancouver played much of the game with just five defensemen after Andrew Alberts
left the game midway through the first period with a right shoulder injury. Alberts replaced Aaron Rome
who sustained a mild medial collateral ligament sprain Friday and is expected to miss 2-3 weeks.
"They did the best they could, but it's a tough job for them," Schneider said. "We've been fortunate during this stretch not to lose too many guys, now we're starting to and we'll have to deal with it."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.