Koivu has goal, 2 assists; Wild crush Canucks 6-2
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A date with road-weary Vancouver came at the right time for the Minnesota Wild.
Eric Staal and Matt Dumba had a goal and an assist, and Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Zucker also scored for the Wild, who had a season high in goals. Ryan Suter had two assists, and Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves. Minnesota has won four of five and 11 of 14.
Minnesota, which ended seven-game trip Sunday with five wins, was not sharp Tuesday in a 5-2 loss to Washington.
“We want to be great at home. Obviously, the way the Caps beat us was definitely not fun. We made sure we came out strong and prove ourselves and go right back on track,” Niederreiter said.
Minnesota is 6-1-2 at Xcel Energy Center this season. It is 22-3-8 on home ice since Dec. 27, 2017.
“I didn’t think we were at the top of our game, but I think they looked very tired like they were wanting to get home,” said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau.
The Canucks were at the end of their second six-game trip of the season and started a netminder who hadn’t played in the NHL in more than 19 months.
Koivu, who assisted on Minnesota’s opening goal, scored one of the easiest goals of his 14-year career on the power play to make it 2-0 less than eight minutes into the game. Canucks goalie Richard Bachman passed from behind his net directly to Koivu feet from an empty net.
“It happens sometimes, and mistakes are a part of the game,” said Koivu, who has 10 points, including two goals, in his last six games. “I’m sure he’d like to get that one back.”
“I just fanned on it,” Bachman said. “Most times I’ll get those up, out and down the ice. … Maybe I was overthinking just a little because it had been awhile.”
Bachman, who played last season and the start of this season with AHL Utica, was in goal for Vancouver for the first time since April 9, 2017. He made 23 saves.
Jacob Markstrom started the nine previous games, Anders Nilsson remains out with a fractured finger and top prospect Thatcher Demko is out with post-concussion symptoms. Nilsson took some shots during morning skate but has not been medically cleared to play.
With Vancouver’s spotty defense, Bachman was forced to make sprawling saves, and a couple other pucks trickled just wide, especially late in the first.
“It was the players in front of him who let him down tonight,” said defenseman Michael Del Zotto.
On the power play, Niederreiter redirected Koivu’s pass 1:46 into the second for a 3-0 lead.
Horvat got the Canucks within 3-1 with a power-play goal later in the period, but Staal scored on a wraparound 36 seconds later to restore the three-goal lead.
Dumba’s shot from the blue line beat a screened Bachman late in the period. It was his seventh goal of the season, one behind Toronto’s Morgan Rielly for the league high by a defenseman.
“I’ve got a couple greasy ones and guys are just doing a good job of getting to the net kind of like tonight. From the parking lot, and it still found a way it,” he said.
NOTES: Wild LW Zach Parise missed the game with an illness. C Matt Hendricks, who’s missed 11 of 12 games with a lower-body injury, returned. … Minnesota is tied with Ottawa with a league-best 17 goals scored by defensemen. … Horvat leads the Canucks with 18 points, including 10 goals. … Vancouver rookie C Elias Pettersson, who has 10 goals and 17 assists, was held pointless for the fourth straight game.
Canucks: Start two-game homestand Saturday against Montreal
Wild: Host Buffalo on Saturday