Gaborik’s first two goals since October helped the Wild beat Vancouver 5-2, ending the Canucks’ win streak at seven games. It was only Minnesota’s fifth victory away from home this NHL season as the Wild ended an 11-game road losing skid, one loss shy of a franchise record. “It feels good after two months to get those first goals,” said Gaborik. “The biggest (thing) was that we won on the road.”
Brian Rolston had a goal and two assists for Minnesota. Branko Radivojevic and Wes Walz also scored.
“I was looking for the champagne in the room,” said Rolston, a glib reference to the Wild’s long-awaited end to their road losing streak.
Taylor Pyatt and Willie Mitchell replied for Vancouver (24-19-0-1) before 18,630 spectators at General Motors Place.
“(The Wild) were the much better team in all the areas and they deserved to win,” said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault.
“With four points separating first place and last place, our motivation should have been just as high. But obviously, with our play, the way we performed on the ice, we weren’t very good.”
The Wild led 2-0 after the first period and 3-0 early in the second, but Vancouver pulled to within 3-2 heading into the third.
Gaborik opened the scoring 3:09 into the first on the power play with his first goal since Oct. 18 against Los Angeles. Gaborik was appearing in only his third game since returning from a groin injury that forced him to miss 34 contests.
“My timing is not very good,” said Gaborik. “It’s coming back and I think I’m on the right track.”
Rolston made it 2-0 at 12:36 of the first as Minnesota dominated the period, outshooting Vancouver 15-6. However, Wild goaltender Manny Fernandez made a spectacular save on Josh Green, diving across the net to get his stick on the puck as Green shot towards an open goal.
Radivojevic put the Wild ahead 3-0 at 4:28 of the second, converting a goal-mouth pass from Rolston. The goal came after Vancouver forwards Matt Cooke and Brendan Morrison almost crashed into each other in the Minnesota zone and were slow to get back.
Pyatt scored Vancouver’s first goal at 11:55 of the second on a nice goal-mouth pass from Ryan Kesler from behind Fernandez while the teams were playing with four skaters aside.
Mitchell cut Vancouver’s deficit to 3-2 about 10 minutes later as he deflected Markus Naslund’s wrist shot for his first goal as a Canuck and just the 10th in 357 career NHL games.
But Gaborik cemented the win at 5:17 of the third with his second goal of the game. Walz rounded out the scoring at 13:37.
“We’ve been a little fragile on the road and when they get two goals back they’re one shot away from tying the game,” said Rolston. “We came out in the third period and I thought we took the play to them.
“That’s what I’m most proud of tonight, and that’s something we’re going to have to continue to do if we want to make the playoffs this year.”
NOTES: Defenceman Alexander Edler, 20, suited up for Vancouver after being called up from AHL’s Manitoba Moose. It’s Edler’s second stint in the NHL this season . . . Canucks defenceman Rory Fitzpatrick, who was almost voted into the all-star game by fans, was a healthy scratch, along with centre Marc Chouinard . . . Right winger Joel Ward was inserted in Minnesota’s lineup after being recalled from Houston of the AHL.