VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -The all-star break can’t come soon enough for the Vancouver Canucks.
Losers of five of their last six games, the Canucks needed a valiant effort Monday night against the Minnesota Wild to break out of their slump.
They got just that, but the end result still favored the opposition.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored twice and had two assists, and Niklas Backstrom made 38 saves, leading the Wild to a 4-2 victory over Vancouver and into first place in the Northwest Division.
"When we play against
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. "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.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, but Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault was optimistic with his post-game comments.
| Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Led the Wild with two goals and two assists, setting up the game winner.
| Alex Burrows
Recorded one goal and 5 shots as Vancouver’s hardest working and best forward on the night.
Scored a goal and was one of two players to lead all Canuck forwards with 18:43 TOT.
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.
The Canucks host the St. Louis Blues Wednesday night and Markus Naslund made it clear that his team understands the importance of winning their last game before the all-star break.
"We know that there are a lot of teams pushing," said Naslund of the tight Northwest standings. "I think the race is tighter every year, so we have to start winning again, that’s just the bottom line and we have to do it soon.
"You lose three or four games and you’re down in eighth or ninth spot so it’s a tough time now for us, but we have to respond, that’s the only way."
Notes: 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.