The Minnesota Wild evened their season series with the Vancouver Canucks with a dominating 6-2 blow out Tuesday at the Xcel Energy Center. The biggest difference between the two games appeared to be team that dictated the pace.
In the first meeting, it appeared the Canucks tried to slow the game down, force the Wild to chase them and were successful. On this night, the opposite happened. The Wild (16-7-6) were able to get out in front of the play early and force the Canucks to match them.
“I think that’s every game,” Ryan Suter said about wanting to push the pace. “We just wanted to play our game. That’s a puck possession type game and grind it out in the offensive zone. Then they start hooking you and taking you down … get penalties. We were finally able to capitalize on the power play.”
The Wild were able to turn offensive zone pressure into power play opportunities. They had six man advantage situations, including one in the final minute and a half, and connected on three of them.
“That’s always the big thing, getting pucks to the net and moving the puck,” Thomas Vanek said about better puck movement on the power play. “If we do that, we will give ourselves good looks. Tonight we scored on them.”
Vanek got the scoring started with a re-direction of a pass from Zach Parise five minutes and 17 seconds into the game. Vanek later added assists on the next three Wild goals, including the primary assist on two of them.
Not to be outdone, Mikko Koivu matched him with a goal and three assists of his own. Koivu’s goal, off a pass from Vanek, came a big moment. The Canucks had scored one minute and 27 seconds earlier and were gaining some momentum. Vanek’s hustle to get the puck behind the Canucks’ net and pass to Koivu busted the flood gates wide open at the 8:12 mark of the second period.
The Wild also got goals from Jason Zucker (12:46 mark of the first period off a rebound from his own shot), Parise (5:25 mark of the second period on his own third effort from behind the goal on the power play), Suter (12:36 mark of the second period with a wrist shot through traffic from the point on the power play) and Marco Scandella (16:03 mark of the second period on a wrist shot through traffic from the blue line).
Scandella’s goal ultimately became the softest goal Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller allowed through two periods. However, the goaltender was arguably one of the best players on the ice. He robbed several backdoor one-time attempts and clean point-blank shots throughout 40 minutes. It could easily have been a much more lopsided game.
The Canucks (11-13-8) avoided getting shutout only because of Wild passes. The first came at the 6:45 mark of the second period when Darcy Kuemper and Jared Spurgeon had a bad exchange behind the net. The result was Kuemper throwing the puck up the boards to Henrik Sedin. The center fired a pass across the zone to a streaking Jannik Hansen for the open net goal.
The second Wild miscue came six minutes into the third period when Scandella fanned a pass to his defensive partner. Sedin picked up the puck and threaded a pass across the crease to his brother Daniel for the tap-in goal.
No. 3 – Zach Parise. The Wild forward had a goal and two assists.
No. 2 – Mikko Koivu. The Wild forward recorded a goal and three assists.
No. 1 – Thomas Vanek. The Wild forward had a goal and three assists.
Vancouver……0 1 1 – 2
Minnesota……2 4 0 – 6
First Period – 1, Minnesota, Vanek 11 (Parise, Pominville), 5:17 (pp). 2, Minnesota, Zucker 7 (Vanek, Koivu), 12:46. Penalties – Hutton, VAN (holding), 4:50.
Second Period – 3, Minnesota, Parise 10 (Koivu, Vanek), 5:25 (pp). 4, Vancouver, Hansen 9 (H. Sedin), 6:45. 5, Minnesota, Koivu 6 (Vanek, Prosser), 8:12. 6, Minnesota, Suter 5 (Parise, Koivu), 12:36 (pp). 7, Minnesota, Scandella 4 (Dumba, Niederreiter), 16:03. Penalties – Weber, VAN (hooking), 5:12; Dorsett, VAN (roughing), 10:59; Prosser, MIN (roughing), 10:59; McCann, VAN, double (high sticking), 11:04.
Third Period – 8, Vancouver, D. Sedin 14 (H. Sedin), 6:16. Penalties – Dorsett, VAN (boarding; served by Baertschi), 18:27; Dorsett, VAN, major (fighting), 18:27; Prosser, MIN, major (fighting), 18:27.
Shots on goal – Vancouver 12-9-10 31. Minnesota 17-19-5 41.
Goalies – Vancouver, Miller (30-36), Markstrom (5-5). Minnesota, Kuemper (29-31). Referees – T. J. Luxmore, Brad Meier. Linesmen – Darren Gibbs, Vaughan Rody.