One goal proves enough as Canucks edge Wild
SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- With a young team, early in the season, a coach wants to find various ways to win. That is exactly what the Vancouver Canucks are doing so far.
Jake Virtanen scored his second goal in as many games in the third period Tuesday as the Canucks closed a long road trip on a high note, beating the Minnesota Wild 1-0.
The defensive win came two nights after an offensive display in Vancouver’s 4-1 victory at Detroit.
“You’ve got to win games different ways,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “This is a good Minnesota team, their structure is good. It’s hard to get scoring chances against them, and we knew that going in, that we’d have to play a 60-minute game if we wanted to win. And we did.”
Virtanen’s initial shot was blocked by Minnesota defenseman Jared Spurgeon, but the Vancouver top-line right winger gathered his own rebound and snapped a wrist shot just inside the far post. The goal at 10:07 of the third proved decisive in just the second home game of the season for Minnesota.
The Canucks (5-3-1) got 29 saves from goalie Anders Nilsson, who has two shutouts in three starts this season.
Vancouver went 4-1-0 on its five-game road trip.
“A great road trip overall for us. I think we’ve been playing pretty good every game,” said Nilsson, who took the loss after playing less than 11 minutes and getting pulled against the Bruins on Thursday. “Of course not the first 10 minutes in Boston, but other than that, we’ve been playing good hockey. But I mean, we can’t be satisfied yet. It’s still early on in the year, and we need to keep building on that and get better every day.”
The Wild (2-3-2) got 24 saves from goalie Devan Dubnyk but were blanked for the first time this season. Minnesota’s power play, which has been one of the league’s best in October, was 0-for-4 on Tuesday.
“You can look worse than that. They played a very good road game I thought,” said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, who is stressing patience as his injury-riddled team tries to get healthier. “We couldn’t penetrate anything. They were four across. They weren’t allowing odd-man rushes. We took a stupid penalty in the third period. I thought it was one of those key-by-the-door kind of games. They didn’t have very many chances. We didn’t have very many chances. They took advantage of theirs in the third.”
For the Wild, who have affected by the injury bug early in the season, there was good news in the return of Mikael Granlund. The right winger had not skated since the season opener and had missed five games with a groin ailment. He played more than 18 minutes on Tuesday and had one shot on goal.
The loss was the start of a six-game homestand for the Wild.
“I thought we had spurts of good hockey, but you have to play 60 minutes,” Spurgeon said. “I think getting the pucks in, you could see when we got our cycle game going we had chances. We just have to find a way to put some greasy ones in and come out with the lead.”
After a scoreless first period in which Minnesota had an 11-6 edge in shots, the Canucks turned up the offense in the second, outshooting the Wild 14-10. However, neither team was able to break through until Virtanen scored his second of the season near the midway point of the final period.
NOTES: Wild LW Zach Parise underwent back surgery on Tuesday morning and is expected to miss approximately eight to 10 weeks. Parise, 33, has not played this season. “He’s been in a lot of pain,” Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said. “I give him credit, he did what he could to avoid surgery and rehab and get back and play, but at the end of the day, I think (surgery) will help him get back and feel better quicker.” ... After D Troy Stecher was injured in Vancouver’s 4-1 win in Detroit on Sunday, the Canucks recalled D Patrick Wiercioch from their AHL team in Utica, N.Y. Wiercioch was not in the lineup on Tuesday. ... RW Justin Kloos, who was named Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey as a high school senior at Lakeville South in 2012, made his NHL debut with the Wild on Tuesday, skating on the fourth line.