VANCOUVER – For once, the Vancouver Canucks got goals from someone not named Daniel Sedin.
And that suits them just fine.
Vancouver got a rare dose of secondary scoring and Cory Schneider won his second straight start as the Canucks defeated the Minnesota Wild 5-1 in NHL action on Friday.
Vancouver’s newly formed third line did most of the damage, as Manny Malhotra notched two goals and an assist, Raffi Torres added a goal and an assist and Jannik Hansen had two helpers.
“Any successful team has a real emphasis on making sure there is secondary scoring and not riding our top line too much,” said Malhotra. “They’ve obviously done a fantastic job for us so far, but for us to be successful on a continuous basis you need those kinds of contributions from everybody.”
Ryan Kesler and Jeff Tambellini also scored for Vancouver (3-3-2), which exacted some revenge after a 6-2 drubbing in Minnesota on Tuesday.
Heading into the contest it had been 130 minutes and 50 seconds since anyone other than Daniel Sedin had scored. Sedin tallied both of Vancouver’s goals in a 6-2 loss in Minnesota on Tuesday and the only marker in a 2-1 shootout loss in Chicago on Wednesday. In total, he had seven of Vancouver’s 15 goals entering the game.
“The twins have been carrying us,” said Tambellini, who was bumped to the first line from the fourth line and didn’t look out of place. “It was time for the rest of us to step up.”
The other bright light for Vancouver was Schneider, who made 23 saves.
Schneider won’t see much action this season playing behind workhorse starter Roberto Luongo, but so far he has made the most of it.
The 24-year-old was strong in Vancouver’s 5-1 home victory over Carolina, perfect in the third period in Minnesota on Tuesday, and nearly unbeatable against the Wild again on Friday thanks to strong positioning and rebound control.
The lone goal to beat him came with 2:35 remaining as an Antti Miettinen shot hit his glove, went in the air and trickled inches over the goal line.
“He’s a good young goaltender who’s only going to get better,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said of Schneider, who has a .969 save percentage thus far. “What we’ve had in the past is more veteran goaltending trying to stay in the league. As far as Cory’s case, he’s trying to make his name in the league and become a premier goaltender.”
Aside from Schneider, Vancouver was also buoyed by an improved penalty kill. Entering the game Minnesota led the league with 12 power play goals and a 44.4 percentage, including a 3-for-3 effort against the Canucks on Tuesday.
This time it was the Canucks’ turn to win the special teams battle, holding the Wild scoreless on four chances, including a two-man advantage for 1:02 early in the second period with the score 1-0. Vancouver did get some luck as Marek Zidlicky rang a slapshot off the post.
“We had every opportunity to win it,” said Wild centre Matt Cullen. “We didn’t have that jump that we need to be successful. They’re playing at home, coming off a couple losses, we knew they’d come out strong.”
Torres opened the scoring exactly 11 minutes into the game, taking a feed from Hansen and firing a sharp-angle shot that trickled past Wild goalie Jose Theodore low on the short side.
It was the 100th goal of the 29-year-old’s career. He has played 440 games.
“I think it took a few too many games to get there,” chuckled Torres.
Kesler banged in a rebound early in the second period for his second of the season, and Malhotra broke the game open with a pair of goals midway through the third, first chipping an Alex Edler pass behind Theodore and then beating him with a shot low to the glove side on an odd-man rush to make it 4-0.
Tambellini, with his first, rounded out the scoring with a breakaway goal, going high to the glove side after a nifty feed from Henrik Sedin. Daniel Sedin earned an assist on the play as well, upping his points streak to eight games (7-4-11).
Theodore, who signed with Minnesota after back-up goalie Josh Harding hurt his knee in the pre-season, made 30 saves in his first start of the campaign.
“Theodore played good,” said Minnesota coach Todd Richards. “He gave us a chance to get a point. … Your goalie plays great for you all game, and you make some bad decisions coming down the stretch and you leave him out to dry.”
NOTES: Cullen had his four-game assist streak snapped. … The Canucks improved to 3-0-1 at home. They are 0-3-1 on the road. … As part of their 40-year anniversary celebration, the Canucks honoured Cliff Ronning throughout the game. Ronning had 328 points in 366 games with Vancouver from 1990-91 to 1995-96.