VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -Mikael Samuelsson is getting more comfortable with the Vancouver Canucks' offense, and the Minnesota Wild are still struggling to find theirs under a new coach.
That combination led to Vancouver's 2-1 win over the slumping Wild on Saturday night, with Samuelsson scoring the go-ahead goal on a rebound just as a power play expired 3:49 into the third period.
The Canucks outshot Minnesota 39-18, but struggled to beat Niklas Backstrom until Alex Burrows' jam play in tight left the Wild goalie down when the puck squirted free to the other side. Samuelsson patiently moved it from his backhand to his forehand before rifling a shot over a sprawling Backstrom.
It was Samuelsson's third goal in four games, and fourth overall after signing a three-year, $7.5 million free-agent contract after four seasons in Detroit.
"I feel more comfortable each game I play," he said. "Even if I don't score goals I try, like everybody else, to do good things out there. It's not obviously all about goal scoring, but it's nice to see (pucks go in)."
Ryan Kesler tied the game in the second period for the Canucks, who have won three of their last four games after losing their first three of the season.
"It takes some time," added Samuelsson of a slow start that coincided with the team's early struggles.
The Wild can relate.
Mikko Koivu opened the scoring for Minnesota, which has lost all five games on its road trip.
The Wild have one win in seven games all season as they attempt to adjust to a more offensive, up-tempo style under new coach Todd Richards.
"There's not a guy in here that's not frustrated and disappointed with this road trip but there's no sense crying about it," veteran forward Owen Nolan said. "We've got to move on, clear our heads, get a couple of good practices in and make sure we have a good homestand. It happens whenever a team changes its style: some catch on quicker than others. I think we're right there."
It was hard to tell with just eight Wild shots through the first 40 minutes, but both teams were trying to overcome key injuries, and a game in Alberta the night before. The Wild, missing forwards Martin Havlat, Petr Sykora, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Cal Clutterbuck, lost 5-2 in Edmonton on Friday.
"I think (the road trip) caught up with us," Richards said. "We didn't help ourselves, that's for sure. In the second period we didn't get a forecheck going at all, we were turning pucks over in the neutral zone and forced to defend the whole period."
Backstrom was spectacular after watching Josh Harding play in Edmonton, making 16 of his 37 saves in the second period and keeping the Wild in the game as the Canucks dominated for long stretches.
"It was pretty busy out there but it's fun when you don't have to think too much, you just go out there and play," Backstrom said. "There's a lot of new things we have to learn. We're getting better every day, but we're still thinking too much and we have to think too much because a lot of new stuff. Soon we'll go out and not think, just play like we used to."
Roberto Luongo, back in goal after being pulled after two periods in Calgary, had too much time to think in the first two periods. He only needed 17 saves overall but made one of his best with 3:45 left, getting just enough of Andrew Brunette's power play redirection to send the puck trickling barely wide of the far post.
He also stopped Brent Burns' screen shot and Antti Miettinen from the slot on another Wild power play in the final two minutes, as Vancouver's 25th-ranked penalty kill had its first perfect game of the season, holding Minnesota's seventh-ranked power play scoreless on five chances.
"By far this was our best game of the year," said Luongo, who didn't see a shot for the first nine minutes, then had the second one deflect in off teammate Kyle Wellwood. "It's tough to stay in the game, but we know how crucial these games are even though it's October.">
Notes: It was the Canucks' first win within the Northwest Division after losing the first three. ... The Canucks finished 5-0-1 against Minnesota last season, but four of the six games were decided by one goal. ... Vancouver, which has lost its first three road games this season, plays in Edmonton Monday and Chicago on Wednesday before returning home for three games.