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Vancouver at Minnesota

Backstrom blanks Canucks as Wild creep closer to playoff berth

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild hope they've toughened up enough for the playoffs. The other parts of their game are working well, too.

Cocking their fists and firing away on the power play, the Wild surged past the slumping Vancouver Canucks with a 4-0 victory on Friday night.

The Wild can clinch a spot in the postseason with one more win, but they're chasing more than that. They stretched their lead in the Northwest Division to three points over idle Calgary, which has five games remaining to Minnesota's three. Colorado also trails by three points, after a shootout win over Edmonton.

"The end is coming, and we need the guys to be at their best," coach Jacques Lemaire said.

Niklas Backstrom sure was. He posted his fourth shutout of the season -- two came in the first three games -- and set a franchise record with his 31st victory.

"I feel OK out there, but it goes with the team," Backstrom said. "When you know the team is playing well, then it's easier for everybody."

Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Brent Burns scored with the Wild a man up, sending the Canucks to their fourth straight loss and a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference with Nashville.

Ryan Kesler was asked if there was enough resolve on the roster to win out.

"Yeah, of course," the center said. "There's a lot of character in this room. Right now we're going through a little adversity, but that's when we're at our best."

Vancouver's Roberto Luongo was pulled for the second straight game, after giving up two goals in each of the first two periods. Luongo, who came from Florida on an early-morning flight after his wife gave birth to their first child, has given up nine goals in two games -- in a total of 45 minutes. Luongo entered the night ranked fourth in the NHL with a .921 save percentage.

Canucks captain Markus Naslund couldn't blame him.

"The guys in front of him have to play better in every area," Naslund said. "He's been there for us all year, and if it wasn't for him we wouldn't be where we are. It's up to us to play hard for him."

Missing center and alternate captain Brendan Morrison, who sustained a season-ending knee injury Wednesday in Colorado, the Canucks were overwhelmed. The Wild were sharp from start to finish, though when they went up by four goals they skated without discipline and started trying to score more in the second.

Lemaire was relieved they emerged from that stretch unscathed. Vancouver never took advantage.

"I know the guys were ready and they wanted to play a good game," coach Alain Vigneault said. "Obviously, it didn't show on the ice there. That being said, we made a couple of mistakes that they made us pay for. Our power play didn't capitalize, and when they did make mistakes 5-on-5 their goaltender came up big for them."

Bouchard's slap shot squeezed past a screening Aaron Voros and soared high over Luongo's stick midway through the first period, and an unmarked Burns scored on a blistering slap shot from the high slot to make it 3-0 halfway through the middle frame. Lemaire was delighted by the way Burns moved around with the Wild on the man advantage.

Just eight seconds after a power play expired, Mikko Koivu made a nifty move from behind the end line to fake former teammate Willie Mitchell and poke the puck past Luongo for the second goal. The puck was in the Canucks zone for the entire advantage.

Todd Fedoruk, one of the tough guys the Wild are hoping can give them some more tenacity for the playoffs, scored off Marian Gaborik's 40th assist to make it 4-0. Fedoruk, Chris Simon and Derek Boogaard have given Minnesota a more physical presence.

In the third period, all 10 skaters on the ice wound up dropping their gloves and sticks in a wild melee after Alex Burrows and Bouchard started mixing it up. Nine penalties were issued.

"We play that team and we stick up for each other," Bouchard said.

Notes

  • Wild D Kurtis Foster, who broke his left leg last week, flew back to the Twin Cities to continue his hospital stay and physical therapy. There is no timetable for his discharge, but the team wanted its physician to be able to evaluate him.
  • In the previous 10 games, Vancouver killed 39 of 44 penalties -- 88.6 percent.
  • Colton Gillies, Minnesota's most recent first-round draft pick, signed a multiyear contract with the club that begins next season. The 19-year-old center has been playing at the junior level in the WHL. He'll finish the season in the AHL.
  • Mitchell was on the ice for all four goals.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Pierre-Marc Bouchard's first-period goal starts the party as the Wild roll over the Canucks. (Getty Images)
Pierre-Marc Bouchard's first-period goal starts the party as the Wild roll over the Canucks. (Getty Images)
Related Links
 
Scoreboard
Vancouver (38-30-10)0000
Minnesota  (42-28-9) «2204
Three Stars
M. Koivu
MIN


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
N. Backstrom
MIN


Saves: 28
Save Pct.: 1.000
S. Hill
MIN


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 1

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Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
11:37Power Play - Pierre-Marc Bouchard (14), Slap Shot. Assist: Benoit Pouliot, Mikko Koivu
17:21Mikko Koivu (11), Wrist Shot. Assist: Brian Rolston, Sean Hill
2ND PERIOD
08:28Power Play - Brent Burns (15), Slap Shot. Assist: Marian Gaborik, Pavol Demitra
13:28Todd Fedoruk (4), Slap Shot. Assist: Marian Gaborik, Keith Carney
3RD PERIOD
None
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
07:59Hill, 2 min, Hooking
10:06Kesler, 2 min, Hooking
13:30Voros, 2 min, Hooking
15:13Edler, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
2ND PERIOD
01:33Voros, 2 min, Goaltender Interference
06:35Ritchie, 2 min, High-Sticking
3RD PERIOD
07:48Boogaard, 5 min, Fighting
07:48Cowan, 5 min, Fighting
09:43Bouchard, 5 min, Slashing
09:43Burns, 5 min, Fighting
09:43Burns, 2 min, Unsportsmanlike Conduct
09:43Burns, 2 min, Instigator
09:43Bouchard, 2 min, Roughing
09:43Burrows, 5 min, Fighting
09:43McIver, 5 min, Fighting
09:43Burrows, 10 min, Match Penalty
09:43Burns, 10 min, Misconduct
09:43Bouchard, 5 min, Fighting
10:21Sedin, 2 min, Interference
18:43Pyatt, 2 min, Hooking
19:48Fedoruk, 2 min, Roughing
19:48Gaborik, 2 min, Roughing
19:48Fedoruk, 10 min, Misconduct
19:48McIver, 2 min, Roughing
19:48Kesler, 2 min, Roughing
Shots On Goal
 123T
Vancouver910928
Minnesota148830
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Roberto Luongo33:28174
Curtis Sanford26:3290
Niklas Backstrom60:00280
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
Vancouver0-for-0
Minnesota2-for-4
Game Information
Attendance - 18568
Referees - Wes McCauley, Brad Watson
Linesmen - Steve Barton, Mark Wheler
 
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Mon 4 Final
OT
Buf 3
SJ 3 Final
Ana 1
Phi 4 Final
NJ 5
StL 4 Final
OT
Det 3
Atl 1 Final
Car 7
Edm 4 Final
Colo 5
Nash 2 Final
Colu 0