Minnesota at Vancouver

Victory moves Wild into first place of Northwest Division


VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Pierre-Marc Bouchard continued his strong recent play and Niklas Backstrom got back to last year's form. Combined, it was enough to lead Minnesota to a big division win.

Bouchard scored twice and had two assists, and Backstrom made 38 saves, leading the Wild to a 4-2 victory Monday night over Vancouver and into first place in the Northwest Division.

"Bouchard, he's been playing like this lately, much better," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "Not only that he got four points, it's what he does with the puck when he has it, he skates, he's moving, he had an exceptional game."

Backstrom, making just his second start in five games after taking over the No. 1 job with an exceptional rookie season last year, wasn't bad either.

"Just the way he looked in the net, he looks confident," Lemaire added. "He looked like he's back where he was last year."

Brian Rolston and Mikko Koivu also scored as the Wild moved one point ahead of Calgary and Colorado, and two up on slumping Vancouver in the tight Northwest.

"Everybody was skating, we were ready," Bouchard said after rounding out his fourth career four-point game with an empty-net goal with 22 seconds left. "They're all important but you come here to Vancouver and want two points and guys were ready to play."

Alexandre Burrows and Taylor Pyatt scored, and Roberto Luongo stopped 22 shots for the Canucks, who have just one win and three points in their last seven games.

Luongo, a Hart and Vezina Trophy finalist last season and near the top of most goaltending statistics this season, has given up three of more goals in five of his last six starts.

"Listen, I'm trying to do the best I can out there," he said softly. "I'm a human being like everyone else. It's hard to be on top of you re A-game for 82 games. Obviously I gave up some bad goals tonight but you can always do better."

After Backstrom made three big saves, the game changed on a big hit -- or near hit -- from Brent Burns that helped set up Bouchard's goal and put Minnesota up 2-1 at 12:36 of the second period.

Vancouver's Ryan Kesler was carrying the puck into the zone when he spotted Burns bearing down and ducked, catching the defenseman's stick across his face.

With the crowd screaming for a penalty, Bouchard raced off on a partial breakaway down the left side. He drew Luongo down to the ice with fake a slap shot, then wristed in his ninth goal of the season through the goalie from a sharp angle.

"I faked the shot and went five hole, Bouchard said. "It was a great hit.

Actually, according to Burns, it wasn't a hit at all.

"He got out of the way, saw me coming at the last second," Burns said. "Everybody yelled for a penalty and I didn't even make contact.

Bouchard set up Rolston less than three minutes earlier to make it 1-0, coming out from behind the net with a shot that hit a body in front. Rolston grabbed the rebound and spun in the slot before firing his first goal in 10 games past Luongo. Burrows tied it 40 seconds later, ending a 20-game goal drought on a wraparound, but it didn't take long for Bouchard to restore the lead.

He helped double it with a 3-on-2 pass that Koivu converted for an insurance goal with 4:25 left in the third as the Wild improved to 19-0-0 when leading after two periods. Vancouver dropped to 0-17-1 when trailing after the second intermission.

It was Koivu's first game against Mattias Ohlund since the Canucks defenseman broke his leg with a retaliatory slash on Nov. 16, earning a four-game suspension. But Koivu, who missed 24 games, including two against the Canucks, said he was only concerned with the win.

"That's something I decided not to talk about when it first happened and I want to keep it that way," Koivu said.

Backstrom was good early, making solid stops on a Sami Salo blast and a screened Burrows shot, and robbing Pyatt twice while the Wild was being outshot 17-6 in the first period.

"You have to be ready when you have the chance and for me it was a good game for me because I got a lot of shots and it was easier to get into the game and be part of the game," said Backstrom.

Pyatt finally beat him with 28.3 seconds left and Luongo on the bench, but Bouchard scored his second of the night into the empty net 6 seconds later.


Wild RW Marian Gaborik had a six-game point streak snapped, ending the run with four goals and seven assists. Backstrom is 33-3-3 when he gets a lead at any point of a game the last two seasons. He is 24-0-0 leading after two periods.

Copyright 2017 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.
A two-goal night from Pierre-Marc Bouchard puts Minnesota ahead of Calgary and Colorado.  (AP)
A two-goal night from Pierre-Marc Bouchard puts Minnesota ahead of Calgary and Colorado. (AP)
Minnesota  (27-18-3) «0224
Vancouver (25-19-5)0112
Three Stars
P. Bouchard

Goals: 2
Assist(s): 2
A. Burrows

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
T. Pyatt

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0

Related Video

September 21, 2017
2017-18 NHL Preview: Minnesota Wild (1:00)
August 16, 2017
Matt Cullen set to return for 20th NHL season
April 9, 2017
2017 NHL Playoff Picture
March 13, 2017
NHL Power Rankings (3/12)
Scoring Summary
09:45Brian Rolston (15), Backhand Shot. Assist: Pierre-Marc Bouchard, James Sheppard
10:25Alexandre Burrows (5), Wrap Shot, Unassisted.
12:36Pierre-Marc Bouchard (9), Wrist Shot. Assist: Keith Carney
15:35Mikko Koivu (7), Wrist Shot. Assist: Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Todd Fedoruk
19:31Taylor Pyatt (12), Slap Shot. Assist: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin
19:38Pierre-Marc Bouchard (10), Empty Net, Unassisted.
Penalty Summary
09:13Krajicek, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
09:24Foster, 2 min, Interference
12:44Koivu, 2 min, Hooking
15:09Miller, 2 min, High-Sticking
19:52Schultz, 2 min, High-Sticking
05:55Krajicek, 2 min, Holding
01:43Krajicek, 2 min, Interference
04:32Sedin, 2 min, Interference
09:40Sedin, 2 min, Unsportsmanlike Conduct
09:40Koivu, 2 min, Unsportsmanlike Conduct
16:56Burrows, 2 min, Roughing
16:56Bouchard, 2 min, Cross-Checking
Shots On Goal
Niklas Backstrom59:59382
Roberto Luongo58:21223
Game Information
Attendance - 18630
Referees - Tom Kowal, Marc Joannette
Linesmen - Mike Cvik, Shane Heyer
Other Games
StL 3 Final
Nash 6
Car 3 Final
Buf 2 Final
Pho 6
Wash 6 Final
Pitt 5