ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA (TICKER) —The Minnesota Wild tightened things up in the Northwest Division.
By winning for just the second time in six games, Minnesota pulled within three points of first-place Vancouver, which has lost three of four.
“Today was a four-point night for us,” said Gaborik, whose team matched its total for all of last season with a 14th home win. “We haven’t had points lately, especially at home. We put forth a great effort tonight against Vancouver, the division leader, and it worked out very well for us.”
Dupuis had just one goal in his previous 19 games but matched that total with a power-play tally late in the first period, giving the Wild a 2-0 lead. He scored again midway through the third to restore Minnesota’s two-goal cushion.
“It’s always fun to have a contribution offensively,” Dupuis said. “It’s a big lift, winning a game at home, in front of our fans, against Vancouver, in our division.”
During the game, Gaborik was named a reserve to the Western Conference team and will become the first member of the Wild to appear in the All-Star Game.
He set up both of Dupuis’ goals and another by Jeremy Stevenson before sealing the win with an empty-net tally with 2:03 to play.
“Gabby started to skate more than usual in this game,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. “When I started to put (Jason) Marshall on defense, I talked to Gabby and told him, `I want you to skate and play the best you can.’ I don’t know, but for some reason, he was playing at his best.”
Richard Park scored the other goal for Minnesota, which has split four meetings with Vancouver this season.
“It’s obviously getting worse,” Vancouver captain Markus Naslund said. “We don’t seem to be playing with the same intensity every game. We seem to be getting down early, so we start to press and sometimes we give up the odd-man rush.”
The Wild scored first for the first time in seven games. Just two minutes into the opening period, Jim Dowd broke down the right side on a 2-on-1 and threw a cross-ice pass to Park, who swept a one-timer past diving goaltender Dan Cloutier.
Minnesota was on the power play with 3 1/2 minutes to go in the first period when Dupuis flicked a rebound past Cloutier.
“The first one, it was being in the right place at the right time,” Dupuis said.
Trevor Letowski got the Canucks on the board before the end of the period, scoring off a shorthanded 2-on-1.
But Stevenson got free at the top of the crease 4:08 into the second and redirected rookie Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s centering pass for his second goal of the season and first in seven games.
Klatt again made it a one-goal contest just 82 seconds into the third period before Dupuis settled a pass from Gaborik in the slot and beat Cloutier with a wrister.
“The second one was a great pass by Marian and firing it at the right spot on net,” Dupuis said.
“He wasn’t at his best,” Vancouver coach Marc Crawford said of Cloutier, who made 19 saves. “He has to stick to his game and make subtle improvements, but that’s not just for him, that’s for the whole team.”