ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Vancouver Canucks are so banged up, they will take offence from anybody these days.
That’s just what they got against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. Tough guy Darcy Hordichuk and newly signed Matt Pettinger each scored their first goals of the season, forming an unlikely pair to lead the short-handed Canucks to a 5-2 victory.
“You’re not going to win with one line and you’re not going to win with two lines,” right winger Mikael Samuelsson said. “You’re going to win with your whole team and that’s what we did tonight. It’s huge.”
Hordichuk scored his first goal in 50 games on his first shot of the season. Pettinger was signed off the street on Monday to bolster a depleted roster.
“I haven’t had a lot of shots this year, but it’s not how many shots you have, it’s how many you make count,” Hordichuk said. “It was nice to have one go in.”
Mason Raymond and Henrik Sedin also scored for the Canucks, who have won three in a row and seven of nine despite missing seven players with injuries. Alex Burrows added an empty-net goal.
Kyle Brodziak scored twice for the Wild, who were slow and sloppy throughout and showed little fight against a weakened opponent.
Niklas Backstrom gave up four goals on 17 shots and was pulled by new Wild coach Todd Richards for the first time.
“All you have to do is look at the standings and see there’s got to be desperation and urgency with every game we play,” said Richards, whose Wild are in last place in the Northwest Division. “We were behind 2-0 and then we decided to play.”
Vancouver’s Andrew Raycroft made 28 saves in his fifth straight game in place of Roberto Luongo, who has been out with a rib injury. Raycroft made two excellent saves, using his stick to deflect a shot by Petr Sykora in the second period, then making a sliding kick save on Owen Nolan in the third to keep Vancouver in front.
The Canucks entered having lost 82 man-games to injury in their first 16 contests, with stars like Luongo, Daniel Sedin (foot) and Pavol Demitra (shoulder) missing extended time.
The Wild had won two in a row for the first time this season. They had four days off between games, and took the first period of this one off, as well.
Minnesota managed just three shots in the period and only had one on three power plays. Centre James Sheppard’s blind backhand pass in his own zone was easily picked off by Hordichuk less than four minutes in, and he slipped a wrist shot past a surprised Backstrom for a 1-0 lead.
The frustration boiled over at the end of the period, when Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard was called for cross checking and unsportsmanlike conduct.
Raymond buried a cross-ice feed from Alexander Edler 2:20 into the second period for a 2-0 Canucks lead.
“I don’t know what it is,” defenceman Greg Zanon said in a sullen Wild dressing room. “Obviously there are no answers. You’d like to think everybody was ready, but I don’t have any answers for that one.”
The Wild finally started flying about midway through the period, putting more pressure on Raycroft. But every time they found the net, the Canucks responded to stem the momentum.
“We’re having fun and we believe in each other and every night it’s a new guy stepping up,” Raycroft said.
Backstrom, the all-star who is the rock-solid backbone of this shaky team, was just as much to blame. He took poor angles throughout the first two periods and somehow let Pettinger score from a seemingly impossible shallow angle, prompting Richards to insert Josh Harding to start the third.
“I have to make the saves to keep us in the game,” Backstrom said.
Notes: Vancouver D Shane O’Brien served a one-game suspension for jabbing Rangers agitator Sean Avery with his stick on Tuesday while both were on the team benches. … Wild C Eric Belanger left in the second period because of an upper body injury and didn’t return. … It was Brodziak’s fourth career multi-goal game and the first by a Wild player this season. … Edler had two assists.