VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—Alex Auld sure played like a No. 1 goalie.
Starting his first game since regular starter Dan Cloutier sustained a concussion last weekend, Auld made 16 of his 31 saves in the third period to lead the Vancouver Canucks over the Minnesota Wild 2-1 Wednesday night.
Throughout it all, the 24-year-old Auld appeared calm between the pipes, even when the Wild spent the final 2:26 with a two-man power play—and increased it to a 6-on-3 advantage by pulling their own goalie for the final minute.
“There wasn’t much to get rattled about tonight,” said Auld, who was playing just his 20th NHL game. “I just think it’s important to keep all those things inside and you’ve just got to show everyone else nothing, that’s the biggest thing.”
Auld certainly wasn’t showing the Wild shooters much. He used his 6-foot-4 frame to take up most of the net while moving around fluidly in the butterfly.
He made his best saves in third, stopping Pascal Dupuis in tight after Todd Bertuzzi’s giveaway created a 2-on-0 down low for the Wild midway through the period. Auld also stuck out his left pad to thwart Brian Rolston on a partial breakaway with 5:20 left, improving to 4-0-1 this season.
“Every time he’s played he’s been spectacular for us,” said Canucks defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who had a goal and an assist. “We’re confident in Alex while Dan is out. He’s not a guy who gets rattled. He’s calm, collected and doesn’t let much bother him. His demeanor is always the same.”
Jarkko Ruutu also scored for the Canucks, who snapped their first two-game skid of the season and remained perfect (6-0-0) on home ice.
Vancouver has outscored the opposition 25-13 at home this year.
Randy Robitaille scored the only goal for the Wild, who were shut out in Calgary on Tuesday night and have just one win in their last six games.
Minnesota is 1-4-2 on the road this year and has lost three of four games against Vancouver, falling six points behind the Northwest Division-leading Canucks.
“We had a lot of chances tonight and Alex played great for them,” said Minnesota goalie Dwayne Roloson, who stopped 28 shots but remained winless since an Oct. 12 shutout against Vancouver, a span of four starts.
Jovanovski opened the scoring on a power play 5:28 in, one-timing Bertuzzi’s pass to end the Canucks’ 0-for-14 slide with the man advantage.
Ruutu made it 2-0 at 15:42 of the second period with a shot through traffic, but Robitaille responded for the Wild just 35 seconds later on a 2-on-1.
Auld made the one-goal lead stand up in the third period, backstopping the Canucks’ penalty killers against a Wild power play that came in tied for first place in the NHL. He made a handful of good short-handed stops midway through the period and got a break when Pierre-Marc Bouchard shot over an empty net from a sharp angle.
Auld had to be sharp again with Minnesota on a two-man advantage for the final 2:26 after Bertuzzi was whistled for slashing and Ryan Kesler and Sami Salo both got called for delay of game for clearing the puck into the stands.
“We had chances to score, no question, and Auld came up big for them,” Rolston said. “We did everything right on the power play except for score, and that’s the bottom line.”
The Wild pulled Roloson for the final minute to make it 6-on-3. But Auld stopped Rolston, Bouchard and Robitaille early, and Vancouver’s penalty killers did a good job preventing Minnesota from setting up in the final minute.
“The guys were tremendous killing those off,” Auld said. “Anytime you have 5-on-3 or 6-on-3 for the last 2 1/2 minutes it’s definitely tough, but we showed a lot of heart and grit.”
And, in Auld’s case, composure.
Both starting goalies passed a surprise equipment inspection by Kris King, the NHL’s director of hockey operations, immediately after the game. … Canucks rookie G Rob McVicar, who has never played an NHL game, dressed as the backup after being recalled from Manitoba of the AHL earlier in the day. … Vancouver LW Matt Cooke is out four to six weeks following surgery to insert a plate in his face after his jaw was broken by an errant shot in practice Tuesday. … Vancouver D Bryan Allen missed his third straight game with a bruised knee sustained while blocking two shots from Rolston on Oct. 25 in Minnesota.