The Vancouver star broke a tie early in the second period with his team-leading seventh goal to help the Canucks beat the Wild 3-1 on Tuesday night for their sixth straight victory.
The Canucks are 8-1-1, matching the best record after 10 games in team history. Their only regulation loss was Oct. 12 when Minnesota won 6-0 in St. Paul.
Naslund, who had five shots on goal in the second period, gave the Canucks a 2-1 lead, taking a pass from Todd Bertuzzi on a 2-on-1 break and banking a low shot off Fernandez’s right arm.
“He didn’t give me much to shoot at, but somehow it got in,” Naslund said.
Jarkko Ruutu and Henrik Sedin also scored for the Canucks, and Alex Auld made 27 saves to improve to 3-0-0. Alexandre Daigle scored for Minnesota, which played without forwards Marian Gaborik and Pascal Dupuis and defenseman Filip Kuba.
“Minnesota has a lot of injuries, and tonight we caught them at the right time, when they probably would’ve liked to have a few of those guys back,” Canucks coach Marc Crawford said. “But that’s the NHL.”
Ruutu scored his first goal of the season midway through the first period, sweeping in a loose puck after Sami Salo’s shot from the point hit traffic in front of the Minnesota net.
Minnesota tied it on a power play late in the first when Daigle beat Auld with a rising shot from the right circle. The Wild, who entered the game with the league’s second-best power play numbers, went just 1-for-7 with the man advantage. Minnesota killed seven of Vancouver’s eight power plays, but felt the abundance of special-teams play limited what it could do offensively.
“You use all your energy killing penalties instead of creating things offensively,” Wild center Marc Chouinard said. “It makes a big difference at the end of the game.”
Minnesota has called for 10 penalties.
“The guys played good,” coach Jacques Lemaire said. “The only thing I was not pleased with was the penalties. We have to stay out of the box, but it’s so hard.”
Daniel and Henrik Sedin combined to give the Canucks some breathing room midway through the second period. Henrik redirected a shot by Daniel past Fernandez on a power play to give Vancouver a 3-1 lead. Fernandez stopped 33 shots in his first regulation loss of the season.
“Tonight a thought we played a really strong game,” Crawford said. “Fernandez got to a lot of loose pucks, otherwise I thought we were really close to breaking this one open.”
Atlanta Thrashers general manager Don Waddell, who will serve in the same role with the U.S. Olympic team, attended the game, taking a closer look at Minnesota’s Brian Rolston and Vancouver’s Richard Park and Ryan Kesler. All three attended the team’s orientation camp in early September. … Canucks defenseman Ed Jovanovski played his 400th game for Vancouver.