The Vancouver Canucks own the Minnesota Wild at Rogers Arena.
Even the new-look Wild. Even when they score first.
Vancouver extended its home-ice winning streak against its Northwest Division rival Saturday, earning a 3-2 overtime victory thanks to Dany Heatley and Sami Salo.
The Canucks defenceman, playing in his 700th career game, scored the winner with 20.8 seconds remaining in the extra session. Salo used his patented slap shot to score a power play goal, and became tied Mattias Ohlund for the franchise’s all-time record in game-winning goals by a defenceman (19).
“It’s gone by really quick, it feels like just yesterday was my first game,” said Salo, a 13-year veteran. “
The Canucks were in a man-advantage situation because Heatley slashed Ryan Kesler’s stick with 75 seconds remaining in overtime, breaking the baton and earning a minor penalty. Other than that mistake, Heatley looked pretty good in his first game against the Canucks as a member of the Wild. Minnesota’s first line, centred by Mikko Koivu, was more dangerous than in previous trips to Rogers Arena.
Minnesot has lost eight straight games in Vancouver dating back Jan. 31, 2009. Seven of those losses have come in regulation time.
Early on, the visitors looked like they would snap their slump.
Devin Setoguchi scored nine minutes into the first period, beating Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider with a backhand to the short side. The Wild re-established a one-goal lead in the second period, after a power-play tally from Daniel Sedin, when Kyle Brodziak finished a pretty behind-the-net feed from Nick Johnson.
But the Canucks forged another tie in the third period, when Jannik Hansen deflected a Manny Malhotra shot past Niklas Backstrom. The goal brought much needed relief for Hansen and Malhotra, who were a combined minus-10 with just two points between them heading into the contest.
Schneider made 21 saves for his second win in three starts this season. Backstrom faced 32 shots and fell to 5-7-2 all-time in Vancouver.
Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault was busy juggling lines mid-game. He gave fourth-line centre Maxim Lapierre more ice time, and was using Hansen on the second line in place of rookie Cody Hodgson.
The coach said that Lapierre was “forcing me to give him more time” with his strong play, while Hodgson was benched, finishing with nine shifts and just nine minutes of ice-time, because “I just thought some other guys were better.”
Neither Mikael Samuelsson nor Marco Sturm were in uniform, but general manager Mike Gillis said that had nothing to do with the trade he completed Saturday. The Canucks sent Samuelsson and Sturm to the Florida Panthers in exchange for winger David Booth, forward Steven Reinprecht, who is in the minor leagues, and a third-round pick in the 2013 entry draft.
Samuelsson experienced some soreness this week related to sports hernia surgery that he underwent last spring. Sturm was a healthy scratch for the second time in three games.”