EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Brock Boeser and Elias Petterson each had a power-play goal and an assist, Jacob Markstrom made 27 saves for his first postseason shutout, and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Minnesota Wild 3-0 to take a 2-1 lead Thursday in their best-of-five qualifier series.
Antoine Roussel and Elias Pettersson also scored and Quinn Hughes had three assists for the Canucks, who outlasted the Wild in another penalty-filled, extra-testy matchup and moved within one game of advancing to the first round in their first appearance in the playoffs since 2015.
“Our players need to gain experience in these type of games, but we’re not just here to get experience,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “We want to win the games.”
The Canucks blocked 22 shots in the empty arena.
“Every time there was a blocked shot, everybody’s banging their sticks and yelling, and that gives energy and adrenaline,” Markstrom said. “It’s not only big hits and goals that guys are cheering for.”
The teams played 33:49 without scoring, until Boeser got Vancouver going late in the second period with a falling-down backhander off the ricochet from Pettersson's shot.
"Just picking up trash," Boeser said, laughing.
Boeser, a native of Minnesota who grew up about 20 miles from the Wild's arena, has three points in three games. He scored on the sixth anniversary of his friend Ty Alyea's death in a car accident, marking the moment by pointing upward after his goal.
“To be able to get one for him, it’s something special,” Boeser said. “Yeah, it’s an emotional day for sure, and I tried to make the most of it out on the ice.”
Boeser, part of the tantalizing young core that Vancouver have built around, had a sub-standard regular season, but the Canucks have raved about the way the 23-year-old's game has evolved.
“You want to score at this time of the year, you can’t just wait for a shot,” Green said. “You’ve just got to get your nose dirty and find a way to score.”
Roussel made it 2-0 just 2:18 into the third by blowing by Wild defenseman Brad Hunt on a breakaway and flipping the puck over Wild goalie Alex Stalock's left shoulder with a backhand shot. Stalock made 26 saves.
Pettersson added the insurance goal, his first career postseason score, with 1:22 left on the seventh power play of the game for the Canucks. The Wild went 0 for 7 and are 2 for 17 for the series.
“We're a good team when we play desperate, so it should bring out our best hockey tomorrow,” forward Marcus Foligno said.
The frequent whistles played to Vancouver's advantage, putting that talented top line on the ice time after time and minimizing Minnesota's forward depth in 5-on-5 play.
“We’ve talked ’til we’re blue in the face about staying off the referees and not taking bad penalties, and we did that as a group,” Wild coach Dean Evason said.
There were countless scrums, hits and shoves throughout the contest, with both Markstrom and Stalock taking a few blows around the net themselves. At one point, Minnesota's Ryan Hartman tried to check Jay Beagle and wound up hitting teammate Carson Soucy. Hartman took a boarding penalty in the second period, hitting Pettersson head first into the boards while Pettersson was bent over. Then J.T. Miller attacked Hartman, and both players were called for roughing.
“It just seemed like when you did get something going, it was either power play or penalty kill,” Foligno said. "We’re such a good 5-on-5 team and when we can roll four lines, we’re really good. We’re just kind of getting a little bit stung by that, and we definitely just have to calm it down a little bit with the penalties.”
NOTES: The Canucks were without forwards Tyler Toffoli and Michael Ferland due to unspecified injuries. Ferland, who had trouble with concussion symptoms during the regular season, was sent home for the series. ... Wild stalwart defenseman Ryan Suter was hurt in the third period. Evason said he did not have an update on his condition or availability for Game 4.
Game 4 is on Friday night at Rogers Place at 10:45 p.m. EDT.
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