ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Markus Naslund scored three goals and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2 Wednesday night.
Ryan Kesler also scored for the Canucks, 6-0-2 in their last eight games. Vancouver has gone 9-0-2 against Northwest Division opponents this season and moved into a first-place tie with Minnesota.
Marian Gaborik scored twice for the Wild, who lost for the first time in four home games.
“We felt like we didn't give them much out there tonight,” said Mitchell. “Obviously they had the power play goal there on the five on three, sometimes its tough to keep guys off the scoresheet that way and then it was a broken play on the other one.”
With the game tied at 2 early in the third period, Naslund charged in from the right side to tip a wrist shot from Daniel Sedin past Josh Harding. It was his sixth goal in four games, after scoring four in his first 17 contests.
Naslund and Henrik Sedin perfectly executed a 2-on-1 with 3:33 to play to give Naslund his 11th career three-goal game.
Vancouver, 7-2-1 on the road, scored twice in 22 seconds to take a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Naslund scored on the power play, when at the left post he redirected a ricochet off the end boards past Harding at 6:27. Kesler completed a rush by scoring on a wraparound at 6:49.
The Canucks round out the last of eight consecutive games against divisional rivals and improve their record to 9-0-2 against Northwest teams.
The win Wednesday night moved the Canucks tied for first in the division with the Wild but tie breaking procedures puts the Canucks just ahead of Minnesota based on head-to-head match-ups, both won by Vancouver.
“Any divisional game is so important,” said Naslund. “You've got to be disciplined and try to take advantage of the chances you get against a team like Minnesota. They’re usually playing a pretty defensive game so it was good for us to get a couple of goals.”
“Obviously its a good thing,” said Canucks defenseman, Willie Mitchell. “We feel pretty confident playing against teams in our division. Right now we feel we can beat them and we want to keep this roll going.”
Gaborik beat Curtis Sanford with a one-timer less than a minute later and scored a power-play goal at 10:30 by sending a wrist shot past by Sanford to tie it.
The Wild had a goal disallowed immediately by the refs, although it did get reviewed.
“Most of the chances they generated was stuff we gave to them,” said Mitchell. “Were playing much harder - both the forwards and defensively. Just a little tighter system because if it.”
Scored his 10th hat trick in his career as a Canuck to tie Tony Tanti with the most all-time Canucks hat trick.
Scored two goals and led all Wild skaters with 6 shots.
Finished the night a +1 and played 21:29 in his third game back since suffering a foot injury.
Like most games between the clubs, this one was physical but called tightly by referees Greg Kimmerly and Mick McGeough. Vancouver's Mike Brown, who had three points and 69 penalty minutes in 17 AHL games this season before being recalled Monday, fought Aaron Voros in the first period for the game's lone bout.
Vancouver recalled Mike Brown from the Manitoba Moose to add some grit to the lineup after the heated game in Vancouver Friday night.
In his NHL debut, Brown fit right into his role and there really wasn’t time for nerves. Brown got involved in a tussle with the Wild’s Aaron Voros just 7:22 into the game.
“You pretty much have to play through anything,” he said. “It doesn't really matter to me what the situation is or what game you're playing, I'm still going to come out every single game and give it everything I have whether it's a playoff game or a preseason game.”
“I just know [Voros] was running around last game and it's part of my game, so it just happened there. It felt like the right time and he just wanted to go.”
Each team entered the night with considerable anger directed at the other since last Friday's game in Vancouver.
In that one, Vancouver's Mattias Ohlund earned a four-game suspension for his two-handed slash against Mikko Koivu after the Koivu elbowed him in the head. Koivu has missed the past two games with a cracked bone in his left leg but might return next week. The Canucks were also upset about Gaborik elbowing Kesler in the head, and they said Stephane Veilleux shot the puck at Mike Weaver in the waning seconds of the Canucks' 6-2 win. Veilleux has denied the charge.
With all the hype surrounding the now infamous Pinky and the Brain reference, all eyes were watching the ensuing drama that didn’t happen.
“I don't think there were scores to be settled, said Mitchell. “What was on the line was first place in the division, and that was our mind set. We didn't want to get stuck in the penalty box and let them get opportunities.”
“It was a pretty tight game, you're not going to see people doing stupid things out there.”
“Like I said, we're here to play hockey,” said Naslund. “It's unfortunate when things like that happen like last game, that being said, our focus coming in here was to win the game and play a strong game. We played last night and we wanted to show up and play a strong game in this building.”
Notes: The game concluded a stretch of eight straight games against divisional foes for both teams. ... Wild D Sean Hill played for the first time this season. While with the New York Islanders, Hill was suspended on April 19 for 20 games after testing positive for steroids. He has said he doesn't know how the banned substance got into his system. ... Sanford started in goal for Vancouver for the first time in 12 games. It was his second start of the season. ... Wild LW Pavol Demitra took part in the team's morning skate, but missed his seventh straight game due to a strained groin.
1 - 0 VAN
2 - 0 VAN
2 - 1 VAN
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 VAN
4 - 2 VAN