The Northwest Division rivals conclude a home-and-home series Tuesday at the Xcel Energy Center.
Mattias Ohlund’s power-play goal midway through the third period gave Vancouver a 2-1 win over Minnesota on Saturday. It was the Wild’s franchise-worst seventh straight road loss and concluded a winless three-game road trip.
Minnesota (16-14-2) has played better at home, however, winning three in a row there and posting a 12-3-1 mark this season.
Vancouver (17-15-1), meanwhile, finished its three-game homestand undefeated with Saturday’s win and is looking for its first four-game winning streak since Jan. 14-21. This game, though, marks the start of a four-game road trip and that is where the Canucks have struggled recently—they’ve dropped three straight away from home, and have been outscored 15-4.
Roberto Luongo made 28 saves for Vancouver to post just his second win in nine career starts against the Wild. He’s yet to win in his career in Minnesota, recording four losses, a scoreless tie and a 3.02 goals-against average.
Luongo also was involved in a controversial call in the second period Saturday. Pascal Dupuis’ rebound shot hit Henrik Sedin and bounced off the Luongo’s mask as he fell back into the net. The mask appeared to be in the net, but replays didn’t conclusively show if the puck was over the goal line.
“That’s a secret between me and the puck and I’m not going to tell anybody,” Luongo said.
Rookie backup goaltender Niklas Backstrom made 16 saves to fall to 4-3-2 despite a respectable 2.02 GAA. He said the Wild needs to play more consistent hockey.
“For the past month it’s like this. We play well but don’t get what we deserve,” Backstrom said. “That’s hockey. We just have to keep working and hopefully we get the breaks in the future and turn this ship around.”
Backstrom replaced an ailing Manny Fernandez and stopped all 19 shots he faced over the final two periods of a 5-2 win in Minnesota on Nov. 2. Fernandez, who likely will start this contest, has won his last three home starts, posting a 2.49 GAA in that span. He also is 4-4 with a tie and a 2.84 GAA in his career at home against the Canucks.
Pavol Demitra scored for Minnesota Saturday for his 600th career point. In 31 career games against Vancouver, Demitra has 38 points—his third-highest total against any team.
Vancouver is now one point ahead of Minnesota in the Northwest, but the Wild have won two of three meetings this season, both at home.