Zuccarello scores in shootout to give Wild win against Canucks
Frederick Gaudreau scored in regulation for Minnesota, which won its third in a row and second straight in a shootout after Thursday's 3-2 win against Calgary. The Wild are now 7-2 under coach John Hynes. Since Hynes replaced Dean Evason on Nov. 28, Minnesota leads the NHL in allowing just 1.56 goals per game and has a league-leading .947 save percentage.
Gustavsson is 6-1-0 with a 1.26 goals-against average and .954 save percentage in that span.
“How we are playing now, it feels more comfortable,” Gustavsson said. “Earlier in the year, if we were in these types of games, it didn’t feel like we created as many chances and it didn’t feel like we could score in these types of games. Now it feels like we’re still creating the chances. The other goalie has played very well and you just have to wait for the chances to go in.”
“It was a good effort,” Blueger said. “I think probably not our best, not our sharpest. The execution wasn’t as good as we have been and we’d like to be, but we stuck with it. Obviously, Casey held us in there for a bit.”
DeSmith was playing his first game since making 26 saves in a 2-0 shutout against Minnesota on Dec. 7, starting the Canucks’ winning streak. The netminder started the day 5-0-0 with a 1.78 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in five career games against the Wild.
Vancouver, which leads the NHL in goals per game this season and started the day with a league-best plus-41 goal-differential, was scoreless on five power-play chances.
“Same as the five-on-five play, the execution wasn’t there,” Canucks coach Rick Tocchet said. “We were static.”
Instead, the scoring came from unexpected sources for both teams.
In the first period, Minnesota opened the scoring with Gaudreau’s second goal of the season. The line with enforcers Marcus Foligno and Pat Maroon displayed their skill. Maroon brought the puck into the offensive zone before a cross-ice pass to Foligno.
Foligno quickly centered the puck and Gaudreau deflected it past DeSmith to finish the tic-tac-toe play.
“We knew what kind of team we were playing against, and we knew it was a matter of staying sharp mentally throughout the whole game,” Gaudreau said. “Those games are like that, for sure. It’s just one little something, or maybe not and you go all the way to shootouts.”
Vancouver countered early in the second with Blueger’s third goal of the season. Dakota Joshua centered to Blueger, who was charging to the net and lifted the puck past Gustavsson.
The Wild were playing without injured captain Jared Spurgeon, who missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury, but Hynes said Spurgeon will travel with the team on the upcoming road trip.
Canucks: Finish a back-to-back set in Chicago on Sunday.
Wild: Play at Pittsburgh on Monday.
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