VANCOUVER -- The ending wasn't perfect, but goalie Devan Dubnyk continued to be a big part of the turnaround for the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.
Dubnyk gave up two goals 61 seconds apart late in third period, but added a couple of late stops to finish with 35 saves and give the Wild a 4-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.
Forward Ronalds Kenins scored his first NHL goal on a soft shot off the rush with 7:40 left to end Dubnyk's shutout, and Daniel Sedin made it a one-goal game 61 seconds later. But after coach Mike Yeo called a timeout to calm things down, Dubnyk denied Linden Vey from the slot and Wild forward Jason Zucker ended the comeback bid scoring an empty-net goal with 53 seconds left.
"It got a little hairier then we expected," Dubnyk said. "Obviously with a 3-0 lead, I would like to stop that first one that kind of gives them a little momentum but it didn't end up mattering in the end."
Zach Parise and Jared Spurgeon scored two minutes apart midway through the second period and Minnesota forward Thomas Vanek added the eventual winning goal 7:08 into the third period, four minutes after a goal by the Canucks was called back.
Minnesota (23-20-6) had lost 12 of 14 before Dubnyk was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for a third round pick on Jan. 14. But the Wild are 5-1-1 since, moving within five points of the Canucks and Calgary Flames for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after sweeping a three-game western Canadian road trip.
"We knew after the (All-Star) break with these three games that if we lose them it's going to be almost impossible," Vanek said. "Now by beating those teams ahead of us it gives us a chance."
Dubnyk has been a big part of the turnaround. Despite missing out on his second straight shutout and third in six games with the Wild, he improved to 5-1-0 with a .935 save percentage since the trade.
"Confidence is one thing and a lot of credit has to go to (Dubnyk)," Yeo said when asked what had changed in the past two weeks. "Again it's the type of game they come out, get two or three chances and he allows us to settle into the game and grab that first goal."
Parise opened the scoring 7:26 into the second period, throwing the puck across the crease to a streaking Vanek from below the left faceoff circle. The puck hit defenseman Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa who slid to block the pass and went under Miller. It was the seventh goal in the past seven games for Parise.
"To me it looked like it was getting through so I started my push, it hit Sbisa in the glove and it went five-hole," Miller said. "So I didn't get sealed quick enough but I was trying to get a good push to the backside thinking it was going under (Sbisa)."
Miller finished with 16 saves for the Canucks (27-18-3), who defeated the last-place Buffalo Sabres 5-2 on Friday but are struggling to score at home, shutout in each of the previous two games and most of Sunday.
"There were significant parts where we were outshooting them," coach Willie Desjardins said. "We were controlling it."
After Parise opened the scoring, Spurgeon doubled the lead on a Wild power play two minutes later with a point shot through traffic past Miller's glove.
It was the fourth power-play goal surrendered by the Canucks' third-ranked penalty kill in 11 chances in their past three games, matching the amount they had given up in their previous 17 games.
"Our one (power play) didn't go good, they got some life off it, they score on their (power play) and all of a sudden it’s a bit of a different game and we couldn't get ourselves back to it," Desjardins said.
Minnesota got a break when Alexander Edler's goal 3:05 into the third period was waved off after the referee's huddled near the penalty boxes. Dubnyk made contact with Vancouver forward Radim Vrbata as the goalie tried to move to his right to get into position for Edler's one-timer from the left point. It was initially called a goal, but was reversed.
"It's a great call, I’m glad they talked about it," Dubnyk said. "It's not an easy call to make because he moves as the shot is taken but Edler is a left-handed shot and he is on the wall and Vrbata is in the crease and I can't get in my crease to where I need to be to make that save. He moves so it doesn’t look like he interfered with me as the puck goes in but I couldn't make the save because I couldn't get to where I needed to be to make the save in the first place."
Vanek beat Miller with a slap shot over the blocker from the right faceoff circle on a 2-on-1 four minutes later to make it 3-0.
"I don't know if he was cheating on the glove side or just the way he ended up with his positioning but I saw a pretty good opening and lately I have been passing on a lot of those so I thought I would give it a good rip and it worked out good," Vanek said.
Kenins' first NHL goal in his second game was the lone bright spot for the Canucks, who have lost three of their past four games. He beat Dubnyk under the left pad with a shot off the rush from inside the top of the left faceoff circle.
"It's nice to score but it's nicer when the team wins," Kenins said.