By Ryan Donaldson
The Wild and Canucks went into the late game Monday night tied at 32 points each in the Western Conference playoff standings. Minnesota was winless in Vancouver since January of 2009, but the squad was coming off their biggest offensive explosion of the season after a 6-4 road win in Colorado on Saturday. The Wild looked to build on that momentum Monday at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks were given early opportunities, after back to back penalties going against Minnesota’s Jason Zucker and Ryan Suter, but failed to capitalize after effective Wild penalty kills. The two teams skated to a scoreless first period after the Canucks outshot the Wild 10-7.
Niklas Backstrom, who had one of his best games of the year Monday night, single-handedly kept the game close. Vancouver could not tally on the scoreboard until their third power play of the game allowed for their Captain Henrik Sedin to push the puck past Backstrom to make it 1-0 in the second period. It was the first time in eight games in which the Wild did not score first.
Before the end of the second frame, rookie Jonas Brodin showcased his shooting ability with a hard slap shot that zipped over the shoulder of Roberto Luongo on a Wild power play to tie the game 1-1.
Having been outshot 25-19, the Wild came out in the third period with the mentality to get the puck on the net. During a long offensive possession, Koivu made a great play to get the puck to a firing Clayton Stoner as Charlie Coyle deflected it just under the crossbar and in for a 2-1 lead.The Wild’s Matt Cullen scored his first goal in 12 games after he dodged a Canuck check and received a tape-to-tape pass from Setoguchi that left him all alone in front of Luongo to go up 3-1.
Wild held on to the 3-1 lead for the team’s first win in 4 years at Rogers Arena. The victory puts them atop the Northwest division and gives them sole possession of first place. With a record of (16-10-2) and 34 points in the playoff standings, the Wild are sitting contently in third place in the Western Conference.
Rookie Charlie Coyle talked about the win “We have to be a good road hockey team, we have picked it up, taking it one game at a time. If we focus on the task at hand we will be good.” The road test continues Wednesday night in Detroit. The Wild take on the Redwings from Joe Louis Arena at 7pm on the FAN!