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Vancouver Canucks power past Minnesota Wild

By Brian Halverson, The Sports Xchange
The Vancouver Canucks' Reid Boucher scored twice and Brock Boeser scored his first NHL goal in his pro debut as part of a four-goal second period to jump start Vancouver to a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. File Photo by BIll Greenblatt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/967595ef89596326468f38cbbbed3ca4/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The Vancouver Canucks' Reid Boucher scored twice and Brock Boeser scored his first NHL goal in his pro debut as part of a four-goal second period to jump start Vancouver to a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. File Photo by BIll Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Prior to Friday's practice, Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau showed his struggling team video of a December game when the Wild were playing their best hockey. His hope was the Wild would take what they learned and it would transfer to Saturday's matinee game against the Vancouver Canucks.

The tactic did not elicit the desired effect.

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Reid Boucher scored twice and Brock Boeser scored his first NHL goal in his pro debut as part of a four-goal second period to jump start the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild.

Vancouver backup goaltender Richard Bachman made 25 saves in limiting the Wild to a pair of late third-period goals by Ryan Suter and Eric Staal.

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The Canucks beat both Minnesota and Chicago on the road this week, scoring a combined nine goals in the two games.

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"Both those teams are good teams and they can come at you hard," Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins said. "On both nights we were pretty optimistic, we haven't scored that easy all year and we had some things going in for us those two games."

After leading the Western Conference for much of the season, Minnesota is just 2-9-0 in its last 11 games and is stumbling toward the postseason having not won back-to-back games since Feb. 27-28. The Wild clinched a playoff berth when the Los Angeles Kings lost 3-0 to the New York Rangers on Saturday night.

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"Every facet, we don't win a battle, in front of the net it seems like teams have total leeway, they're doing what they want, whereas we can't get to the net," Boudreau said. "I don't know, at this stage, whether that's the will to get to the net or if the other teams are being that good.

"But they had a player today that played for North Dakota last night. I don't think college hockey is as good as the NHL and he scored a goal."

After a scoreless first period, Vancouver began the second with 1:40 of power-play time courtesy of a Ryan Suter slashing penalty. The Canucks needed just 19 seconds of that to take the lead on Boucher's fifth goal after a scramble in the low slot.

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About five minutes later, Boucher's wrister from the left circle appeared to hit a post and play continued. But 30 seconds later, the arena horn sounded to stop play as officials in Toronto saw reason to review the shot.

"I was kind of mad at first because we had a good breakout there," Boucher said. "We were going on a rush and nobody knew what it was for. It turned out to be a goal so it's nice."

After a brief delay, replays clearly indicated that Boucher's shot over Minnesota goaltender Darcy Keumper's right shoulder went under the crossbar and deflected off the goal cam. Boucher was awarded his sixth goal of the season and time was restored to the game clock.

Bo Horvat's hard drive to the Minnesota net did not find its way in but Boeser pounced on a loose puck in the crease to score at 11:51.

"It's really special and a special moment and I'm definitely gonna cherish this for a long time," Boeser said.

The Minnesota native, who was Vancouver's 2015 first-round draft pick, signed an entry-level contract with the Canucks prior to the game. Boeser played nearly 13 minutes, mostly on Vancouver's second line alongside Horvat and Sven Baertschi after getting the start with Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

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"It's something you dream about, I mean, I think they got drafted the year I was born," Boeser said.

Boeser, from suburban Burnsville, made the trip from Grand Forks, N.D., to St. Paul after his University of North Dakota team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament by Boston University Friday night.

"Obviously a heartbreak loss there with my North Dakota team but, you know, I had to regroup there and focus on this game," Boeser said. "I definitely think adrenaline kicked in here for this whole game."

It only took the Canucks another 1:46 to make it 4-0 on left wing Jack Skille's fifth goal off a faceoff in the Minnesota zone won by Brandon Sutter.

Minnesota forward Jason Zucker said the Wild just are not good enough at this stage of the season.

"We are leaving guys open, we aren't winning battles, we are hanging our goalies out to dry," Zucker said. "I don't think we're prepared enough to start some periods and they score quick and we're not being resilient enough to come back."

The Canucks nearly grabbed the game's first lead at the 12:22 mark of the first period when Sutter pick-pocketed Minnesota's Zach Parise just inside the Wild blue line and went in alone on Minnesota goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who smothered Sutter's shot.

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Kuemper finished with 17 saves.

Minnesota's Nino Niederreiter had a chance to put the Wild in front with 3:08 to go in the opening period but his wrist shot from the left circle was picked out of the air by the glove hand of Bachman.

Skille had to be helped from the ice after receiving a hit from Minnesota right winger Charlie Coyle with 3:30 to play in the second period.

The team announced Skille suffered an ankle injury on the play and would not return to the game.

NOTES:

-- Burnsville, Minn., native, LW Joseph LaBate, made his hometown debut as a pro for the Canucks.

-- Minnesota D Christian Folin returned to the lineup after a 10-game absence due to an arm injury suffered March 5 vs. San Jose.

-- D Alex Biega and D Philip Larsen were healthy scratches for the Canucks, while C Jordan Schroeder and D Nate Prosser sat out for Minnesota.

-- Saturday's game marked the fourth in a five-game trip that concludes Sunday at Winnipeg.

-- The Wild hit the road for one game at Detroit on Sunday before returning home to host Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on March 28.

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