ST. PAUL, Minn. – Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa took a shot off his foot and limped toward the dressing room early in the first period. But instead of leaving, Bieksa turned around and played the rest of the game.
“One of those things where you take a shot and play through it. All the guys are doing it,” he said.
The other Canucks showed similar fortitude in a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
Manny Malhotra had a goal and an assist, Cory Schneider stopped 27 shots and the banged-up Canucks won in Minnesota for the first time in their last five tries despite registering just one shot on goal in the third period.
Jannik Hansen, Mikael Samuelsson and Ryan Kessler also scored for Vancouver.
“Come playoff time, you have to be able to win in any building and not let things get to you,” Schneider said. “We had a pretty gritty effort, not the prettiest one, but I think everyone chipped in and did what we had to do.”
Fighting to stay in a crowded Western Conference playoff race, the Wild lost for only the third time in 12 games despite outshooting the Canucks 28-14.
Cal Clutterbuck scored for Minnesota, his fourth goal in three games.
“It’s definitely frustrating. We’ve been playing so well,” defenceman Clayton Stoner said. “It wasn’t a real fast game, the first period. I feel like the second half of the game, we dominated. We deserved a better fate for sure.”
The Canucks hold a comfortable lead in the West despite a rash of injuries to their defencemen. Andrew Alberts was the latest to go down when he broke his wrist in Monday’s loss to St. Louis.
Four Vancouver defenders have been injured in the last week, which made Schneider’s performance even more impressive.
Regular goalie Roberto Luongo has failed to finish the last three games against the Wild, all lopsided losses. Schneider took his place Tuesday and turned away flurries by the Wild to start the game, and again early in the third period.
“Some of our Ds played a lot of minutes and we had a couple of kids back there getting their first taste of a real serious push,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “The difference maker was obviously Schneider.”
The Wild did just about everything right besides figure out Schneider. John Madden was turned away on a partial breakaway midway through the third and Clutterbuck had a shot ring off the crossbar in the second.
Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom lost for the third time in his last eight games.
Malhotra beat Backstrom in the first by deflecting Sami Salvo’s slapshot. The goal stood after a review to make sure Malhotra’s stick was not above the crossbar.
Hansen’s backhander got past a sprawling Backstrom midway through the second and Samuelsson scored with 19 seconds remaining in the period.
“Those are the chances that win and lose you hockey games and lately that has been us scoring those goals,” Stoner said.
The Wild play Chicago, another tough conference foe, on Wednesday night.
“We had a nice little winning streak and now we lost,” Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. “We have to regroup and come out tomorrow and try to start another winning streak.”
Kessler’s goal late in the third was an empty-netter and was the Canucks’ first shot on goal in the period.
Recording just one shot in the third period is not the ideal way to win, but the Canucks will take any win they can get in Minnesota at this point. The Wild had outscored Vancouver 21-6 in the previous four games at the Xcel Energy Center.
“Tonight we wanted to play better than we have the last four games here,” Vigneault said. “I think we did that for two periods and we hung in there in the third.”
NOTES: The Canucks called up 20-year-old Yann Suave to replace Alberts. … Wild D Marek Zidlicky, out since Dec. 29 with a shoulder injury, is improving and might return in time for Sunday’s game against Detroit. … The game was stopped briefly in the first period to repair the glass after a check by Clutterbuck.