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Canucks Defeat Wild, 4-1, At XCel Energy Center

(Sports Network) - Manny Malhotra tallied a goal and an assist to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

Jannik Hansen and Mikael Samuelsson also scored for the Canucks, who sit atop the entire NHL with 83 points and have captured eight of their last 10 games overall. Ryan Kesler added an empty-net goal while Cory Schneider made 28 saves in the win.

Cal Clutterbuck scored the lone goal for the Wild, who saw their three-game win streak halted.

"They deserved to win -- they capitalized on their chances and we failed to do so, but I thought we played well enough to win the game," said Clutterbuck.

Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom allowed three goals on just 13 shots.

A power-play goal 5:15 into the game gave the visitors an early lead. With Martin Havlat in the penalty box for hooking, a faceoff win led to the puck being drawn back to the left point for a slap shot by Sami Salo. On its way to the net, the puck was deflected by Malhotra, who was stationed inside the near circle. A jumping screen by Alexandre Burrows also blinded Backstrom, who did not see the puck as it flew behind him into the back of the cage.

The Wild knotted the contest via Clutterbuck's 18th goal -- assisted by Kyle Brodziak and Jared Spurgeon -- with 2:58 remaining in the opening stanza.

A rebound tally by Hansen from the right circle gave Vancouver a 2-1 lead at the 12:49 mark of the middle session. Malhotra sent a wrist shot toward the net from the right circle and the puck hit traffic in front before Hansen's rebound attempt from the left side hit the near post and went in.

With 18.1 seconds to play before the second intermission, the visitors moved ahead by two on Samuelsson's 16th marker of the campaign. Kesler held control along the right side and slipped a short pass to Samuelsson, whose one-timer from the near circle lit the lamp.

Vancouver did not register a shot on goal in the entire third period compared to Minnesota's 13 attempts, but Schneider stopped them all and Kesler's short- handed tally into the open cage in the final seconds capped the scoring.

"We knew they were going to come out playing hard in the third period and they did," said Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa. "At times we were on our heels in our defensive zone, but in the end, we played an effective game and got the win."

Game Notes

Kesler now has 33 goals, which leads the Western Conference. Teammate Daniel Sedin is second with 29...The Wild ended 1-for-4 on the power play, while Vancouver was 1-for-1 with the extra skater..Attendance was 18,106.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.