Canucks score 3 in first, hold off Wild in 4-2 win

The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 15, 2011; 1:47 AM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Vancouver Canucks are on such a roll, they can play poorly and still win.

On Monday night, the Canucks took two late penalties while trying to protect a one-goal lead, then killed them off and scored into the empty net for a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild that put Vancouver over 100 points this season.

"With the team and the guys and the depth we have, we aren't always going to have to play at 100 percent, but at the same time that's where we want to be," captain Henrik Sedin said.

Raffi Torres, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler scored in the first period and Vancouver hung on for its sixth straight win.

Kesler added his second goal into an empty net with 3.4 seconds left after the Wild failed to convert two power plays in the final 5 minutes with a chance to tie the game.

Roberto Luongo finished with 32 saves for the league-leading Canucks, who were back home after sweeping a five-game road trip, and became the first NHL team to pass the century mark this season with 101 points.

Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a broken finger to set up Andrew Brunette's goal late in the second period, and scored one of his own 4:32 into the third period. They were Minnesota's first goals in three games but came too late to prevent a third straight loss.

The Wild remained 11th in the Western Conference, four points out of the playoffs.

"You can't look behind. You've got to look forward. We're still right there," Koivu said. "We had plenty of chances to score but just couldn't put it in the net. Obviously, that's what counts. Give them some credit, but you've got to believe that chances like that, sooner or later, will go in."

It may be a costly win for the Canucks, who lost defenseman Sami Salo after he was hit by a slap shot from Kyle Brodziak late in the first period. The rising shot appeared to hit the veteran defenseman on the left arm, which was hanging down as he doubled over before heading straight to the medical room.

In addition to the return of Koivu, Minnesota's top-line center and second-leading scorer, the Wild also got hard hitting 18-goal scorer Cal Clutterbuck back after he missed four games with a concussion. Defenseman Clayton Stoner also came back after missing three games with an abdominal injury.

None of it helped early.

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