The Vancouver Canucks had momentum on their side heading into Thursday’s game against the Wild but were unable to get their mojo working in Minnesota on the way to a 5-1 loss at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild put two quick goals past Cory Schneider in the second period and never turned back, keeping the throttle down on the clueless Canucks in what could be described as their worst performance of the season.
Cory Schneider was the Canucks’ best player on the ice and couldn’t be given much of the blame for a miserable team game in Minnesota.
Schneider was sharp on several occasions including a rebound stop early in the second period and a less-important breakaway save late in the third, keeping his team in the game for as long as he could.
Vancouver’s third line was victimized on several occasions by the Wild who left their mark on both sides of the box score Thursday.
Manny Malhotra, Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen were a combined -9 on the night against Minnesota in significantly limited ice time. The trio barely eclipsed ten minutes of ice time each in a game that surely will send them all straight to Alain Vigneault’s dog house.
The Canucks appeared to have the game in control after a first period rebound goal from Dan Hamhuis, however following a fight between Brad Staubitz and Aaron Volpatti the tide turned tremendously in favour of the Wild.
Staubitz won the fight, but Volpatti once again held his own proving he can take a punch in a losing decision.
Like Boston’s ability to thrive while employing an enforcer during the Stanley Cup Finals, Thursday’s game was a knockout victory for fighting enthusiasts after Staubitz’ fists sparked a sudden response from the home team.
While the dangers of fighting can be debated for decades, the purpose of a good tilt between two willing combatants should be as clear as Alex Ovechkin’s lips to Wild fans.
Minnesota scored their first goal of the game only 52 seconds following the fight and had enough extra energy to pop another one past Schneider 21 seconds after breaking the shutout.
The Canucks have little time to simmer over the sour loss in Minnesota as they return to the ice once again tomorrow night in St. Louis to tackle the Blues.