VANCOUVER, B.C. – Niklas Backstrom didn’t need much time to bounce back from a poor performance.
He could probably teach Vancouver a thing or two, after the Canucks put together yet another disappointing effort at GM Place. The Minnesota goaltender made 37 saves to backstop his team to a wild 4-3 overtime win Saturday over the hard-luck Vancouver Canucks, extending their record home-ice losing streak to nine games.
The strong showing came a night after he was pulled in the second period of a 3-1 loss at Edmonton, allowing three goals on just 11 shots.
“You can’t lose these games,” said Backstrom. “Every game against (the Canucks) is going to be really big for us now. It was good that we got two points tonight.”
Despite being outshot 40-27, Minnesota moved a point ahead of the Canucks and into a five-way tie for sixth place in the Western Conference – bunched together with Edmonton, Dallas, Columbus and Phoenix.
Vancouver sits in 10th, earning a single point after Ryan Kesler’s tying goal forced extra time with 15.3 seconds left in regulation.
“We were pretty close to winning it before overtime,” said Backstrom. “It was great for us to bounce back and score the winner in overtime.”
Marc-Andre Bergeron’s second goal of the game, on a power play at 1:52 of the extra session, gave the Wild the win. The winning goal came on a four-on-three power play after Daniel Sedin was called for hooking Mikko Koivu.
“We found a way to dig deep,” said Bergeron, who also had an assist. “We all knew what was on the table. We had to win this one just to keep big in the mix. Every team right now is just gaining points.”
Koivu, with his fourth goal in four games against Vancouver this season, and Eric Belanger also scored for the Wild (25-21-3) before a disheartened sellout crowd of 18,630 at General Motors Place. It was Minnesota’s first win over Vancouver after three earlier losses.
Kesler’s second power-play goal of the night forced overtime after the Canucks trailed for the majority of the game.
“We never stopped fighting,” said Kesler. “We were down 2-0 and it was going to be easy to quit and we didn’t. We clawed our way back into it and found another way to get back into it. It was a tough way to lose at the end.”
Alex Edler also scored for the Canucks (22-20-8), who are winless in their last eight games (0-5-3) and finished January with just two victories in 12 games.
“I thought we played a strong game,” said Canucks forward Mats Sundin. “I don’t know what else could have been done out there. I think we created tonnes of chances right through the whole game and they scored on the chances they had.
The Canucks scored on two of four power-play chances against Minnesota’s second-ranked penalty-killing unit, while the Wild scored on two of five man-advantage chances. But Vancouver’s inability to score during a full five-minute power play in the second made it difficult to catch up until late.
Vancouver was handed the long man advantage after Cal Clutterbuck received a major and game misconduct for boarding Alex Burrows in the second period. But the Canucks could not beat Backstrom, despite firing eight shots his way during the extended power-play chance.
“It’s no surprise,” said Bergeron. “He’s been an all-star all year. He’s the guy that we rely on. Just another day for him.”
Belanger’s goal at 7:46 of the third period staked the Wild to a 3-2 lead after Edler had evened things nearly five minutes earlier.
“Obviously, I think we deserved more than one point tonight,” said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault. “I thought we outplayed that team, especially in the last two periods. Their goaltender was the difference in it.”
Notes: Bergeron’s 21 points on the season now exceed the 18 he had all of last season with the New York Islanders and Anaheim. … Vancouver scratched speedy F Mason Raymond, who has gone pointless in his last 10 games, and D Shane O’Brien, who sat out for the first time joining the Canucks in a trade from Tampa Bay in October. … F Mike Brown was inserted into the Vancouver lineup after being a healthy scratch for nine straight games, along with D Rob Davison. … Minnesota F Andrew Brunette, the NHL’s current active ironman, played his 502nd consecutive game. … Despite enforcer Brown’s addition, top Minnesota pugilist Derek Boogaard was rested. … Linesman Lonnie Cameron suffered a cut cheek when hit by a Canucks dump-in late in the second period. A Canucks trainer bandaged him up right on the ice and he stayed in the game.