VANCOUVER – Sami Salo’s first three attempts were foiled, but he struck paydirt on the fourth.
With the Canucks enjoying an overtime power play, the veteran defenceman used his imposing slapshot to give the Canucks a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.
“I knew there wasn’t much time left,” said Salo, whose goal came with 21 seconds remaining. “I felt bad on the first three shots so I thought I’d give it a shot and good things happen.”
The game was the 700th of Salo’s career, an accomplishment considering he has had more than 30 injuries.
“I haven’t thought too much about the games played,” said Salo. “The focus has always been trying to put the best effort out there. But those 700 games have gone really quickly. … The difference this year has been that I didn’t miss the first six months of the season. It’s a lot easier to come back when you’re starting from the same level as the other guys.”
Daniel Sedin and Jannik Hansen also tallied and Cory Schneider made 21 saves for Vancouver (4-3-1), which has won eight straight home games against their Northwest Division rivals.
Devin Setoguchi and Kyle Brodziak replied for Minnesota (3-2-3), which has one win in its last four games.
“We’re still not completely comfortable in those moments when the game’s on the line, playing in your own zone you still get a little bit frantic sometimes,” said Wild coach Mike Yeo. “We’re not the only ones. We made them look like that a little bit too and that’s the team that won the Western Conference championship (last season). I think there’s a lot more to build off of in a positive game from this game than there is in a negative way.”
Salo’s goal came after Minnesota’s Dany Heatley took a penalty, breaking Ryan Kesler’s stick with a slash.
“Not a smart play. That’s really all there is to say,” said Heatley. “You never know if the stick’s going to break or not. It’s kind of a grey area too. If the stick breaks every time is it a penalty? I don’t even know the rule. But still I can’t put myself in that spot.”
With an extremely rare 1 p.m. start at Rogers Arena, both teams looked sluggish and the play was choppy. Even the fans didn’t seem into it, as there were hundreds of empty seats despite an announced sellout of 18,890.
It was the Canucks who shook off the rust in the later stages of the game and began to get the edge in play.
Trailing 2-1 early in the third period, Hansen drove to the net hard and tipped a Manny Malhotra shot between goalie Niklas Backstrom’s legs for his first of the season.
Coming in to the game, Hansen had just one assist and a minus-5 rating in the first seven games of the season.
“I just wasn’t playing well,” he said. “Not getting ahead of myself, it’s only one game, but it’s a matter of making sure I stick with what makes me successful, like going to the net.”
Minnesota took a 2-1 lead late in the second period when Brodziak converted a bang-bang play with Nick Johnson, who was in the lineup for injured Guillaume Latendresse (hip). Johnson eluded Keith Ballard behind the net, then centred for Brodziak, who had position on Kevin Bieksa and one-timed the puck over Schneider’s glove.
The goal came against the flow of play as the Canucks had dominated much of the second period.
Daniel Sedin had tied the score on a power play 1:43 earlier, banking a shot from the side of the net off defenceman Nick Schultz and through Backstrom for his fourth tally of the campaign.
The Wild led 1-0 after a slow-paced first period in which they had a 3-0 advantage in power-play opportunities.
Minnesota opened scoring two seconds after their first man advantage, as Setoguchi and Heatley executed a give-and-go to perfection, with Setoguchi finishing the play with an in-close backhand deke that beat Schneider on the short side.
When it was announced before the game that back-up Schneider was starting, many fans cheered. No. 1 Roberto Luongo has had a so-so start to the season, posting a 2-2-1 record with an .877 save percentage.
“Other than a few saves in the first and maybe that power play in the second, I really didn’t have to do a whole lot,” said Schneider, who has started three of eight games.
NOTES: The Canucks sat out Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm, and they were subsequently traded to Florida after the game for David Booth, Steven Reinprecht and a third-round draft pick. … Minnesota D Greg Zanon (groin) sat while Justin Falk took his place with his first game of the campaign. … Andrew Ebbett had his first point as a Canuck