Canuckled under: Karma catches up with Wild in 4-1 loss to Vancouver
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - In hockey, karma can be cruel as often as it is kind. For every game you win despite getting out-played, there are nights when you do seemingly everything right, everywhere except on the scoreboard.
Such was the sad tale of the Minnesota Wild in its most recent outing. The local hockey club out-shot, out-worked and generally out-played the NHL's best team, the Vancouver Canucks. And at the end of the night, it meant nothing, as the Canucks got the right bounces, at the right times, in a 4-1 win.
It was a sharp contrast from the results Wild fans have come to expect when the Canucks come to visit. In recent years, the Xcel Energy Center has been a place of seemingly endless trouble for the Canucks. They'd lost four in a row in St. Paul prior to Tuesday, and had given up five goals or more in three of those four losses.
Enter the big redheaded puck-stopper from Boston College to end the slide. In place of star goaltender Roberto Luongo on Tuesday, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault started Cory Schneider, and the former college star stopped the Wild cold. Save for an incredible power play shot by Cal Clutterbuck - his team-leading 18th goal of the season - Schneider stopped every puck that came his way.
"They were throwing everything at the net," said Schneider, who finished with 28 saves. "They did a good job down low and got a lot of shots against us."
It was certainly bad karma, and something approaching instant karma for the Wild, which had collected two points on Friday night in St. Louis despite not holding a lead at any point in regulation or overtime.
"In the long run, the coaches and players all understand that usually it evens itself out throughout the season," said Wild coach Todd Richards. "When you're outplayed and you win or you outplay a team and you lose. Tonight it was one of those things."
Although it started relatively well. Trailing 1-0 early, the wild began moving the puck, especially on the power play, and tied the game when Clutterbuck shot from the goal line, as Schneider hugged the post. With next to nothing to shoot at, Clutterbuck somehow banked the puck off the team logo on Schneider's right shoulder and into the upper corner of the net.
"I didn't have much else to do with (the puck)," said Clutterbuck, who now has four goals in the last three games. "I saw him kind of leaning and I just tried to throw it up high."
The Wild dominated for much of the rest of the game, most dramatically in the third period when it out-shot the Canucks 13-1, taking advantage of the fact that three important Vancouver defensemen - Dan Hamhuis along with Minnesotans Andrew Alberts and Keith Ballard - are out of the lineup with injuries. But they would get no closer thanks to Schneider's work covering the lower half of the net.
"Minnesota is a real strong team. They've played us really well, and they've played us hard and played us smart," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. "Tonight we wanted to play better than we have the last four games here, and I think we did for two periods. We hung on in the third there."
As for the playoff picture, the Wild is hanging in there, a point behind Calgary in the race for the eighth and final berth in the post-season. The team gets another chance to overtake the Flames less than 24 hours after the rough night with the Canucks, as a game in Chicago and the well-rested Blackhawks looms on Wednesday night.