Canucks begin road trip in Minnesota against Wild

The Sports Network

3/19/2012 11:14:14 AM

(Sports Network) - The Vancouver Canucks closed out their longest homestand of the season with a victory to keep pace in the Western Conference standings. An upcoming four-game road trip could be where the club makes its move.

The Canucks head to Minnesota to battle the struggling Wild and bring with them one of the top road records in the league.

Vancouver closed out a seven-game residency on Saturday with a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Canucks snapped a two-game slide and won for only the third time in nine games (3-4-2).

Still, it allowed the Northwest Division leaders to remain six points behind the St. Louis Blues for the top spot in the conference. The Canucks, who own an 11-point edge for first place in their division. also have two games in hand over the Blues, who are off until Wednesday.

Daniel Sedin scored twice to give him 30 goals on the season, while Alexander Edler added a goal and an assist in Saturday's win. David Booth also lit the lamp and backup netminder Cory Schneider made 32 saves to improve to 16-6-1 in 27 games this year with a 2.12 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.

"It wasn't the prettiest game, but we responded to a few goals and kept pushing the lead and were able to hang on there at the end," Schneider said. "There are no easy games in this league, they played with a lot of passion and energy and it was a tough win for us tonight."

Vancouver ended February with a 3-1-2 road trip, but remains an excellent 22-10-4 as the visiting club this season. Though the Canucks have won three straight and seven of their past eight over the Wild, they have lost five of the previous seven encounters in Minnesota.

Sedin leads the Canucks with three goals, seven assists and 10 points in five games versus the Wild this year, while twin brother Henrik has a pair of goals and five helpers in the season series so far.

F Mason Raymond and D Sami Salo will not play tonight. F Manny Malhotra and D Marc-Andre Gragnani will play and Cory Schneider gets the start in net.

The Wild battle the Canucks for the final time this season and fell to 1-7-1 in their past nine games overall with Saturday's loss to the Hurricanes. Minnesota took a two-goal lead on Erik Christensen's late second-period tally, but Carolina rallied for four unanswered goals.

Nick Johnson also scored and Kyle Brodziak added a goal and two assists for the Wild, who remained without captain Mikko Koivu and No. 1 goaltender Niklas Backstrom due to injury.

"The message is pretty simple. It's we all have to hate losing, you can never accept this," said Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo. "I don't care who we've got out of the lineup, you cannot accept this. We're in hell. It's not fun."

Matt Hackett stopped 29 shots in defeat as the Wild have dropped five straight in regulation at the Xcel Energy Center for the first time in franchise history. They play the fourth of a five-game homestand tonight.

Brodziak tallied his career-high 18th goal in the loss and now has 37 points on the season, matching his previous best for a single season set in 2010-11.