ST. PAUL, Minn. — Vancouver’s typically strong power play has been struggling. Luckily for the Canucks, they’re doing just fine scoring 5 on 5.
A day after scoring four third-period goals in Buffalo, the Canucks used a three-goal second period to beat Minnesota 4-1 on Sunday. Elias Pettersson helped his team briefly snap out of its power-play funk with his 21st goal and fellow All-Star Jacob Markstom stopped 23 shots.
Vancouver — which entered the game with the NHL’s fifth-ranked power-play unit — had eight opportunities against the Wild, including some overlaps that led to a couple of 5-on-3 advantages. The Canucks came away with only one power-play goal, though, when Pettersson redirected a shot from Quinn Hughes at 9:20 of the second.
“I’m glad we scored some 5-on-5 goals,” said Bo Horvat, who added two goals, including an empty netter in the final seconds. “Our penalty kill was awesome, our power play has got to be better bearing opportunities and making the most of our opportunities.”
Troy Stecher also scored the Canucks. They’ve won nine of 11 and picked up their second win in two days after losing two straight at Tampa Bay and Florida.
“Obviously no one was happy after two games in Florida,” Markstrom said. “We gave ourselves a chance to make this into a good road trip, at least above .500.”
Devan Dubnyk made 26 saves, and Marcus Foligno scored for Minnesota. The Wild were held to 24 total shots after averaging 40 in their previous three games.
“It just seemed like we were just hoping for something to give us a bounce and it just wasn’t happening,” Foligno said.
After a scoreless first period, Vancouver ended an 0-for-18 power-play drought stretching over five games on Pettersson’s second-period goal as things were turning chippy. Minnesota answered with Foligno’s eighth goal of the season at the 11:58 mark to bring some life to an otherwise sleepy arena.
But the tie lasted only 13 seconds, with Horvat tapping in a loose puck just outside the crease off a shot from Tanner Pearson. The Canucks struck again 1:13 later when Stecher’s hard wrist shot from just above the right circle beat Dubnyk’s glove to make it 3-1.
“Obviously their first goal was a mistake on my part, bad rebound,” Markstrom said. “But right after we go out and score two quick ones to make it 3-1, which is huge on the road. I tip my hat to the guys today, they played a great game.”
Minnesota’s 20th-ranked power play unit went 0 for 5 on the man-advantage. Minnesota emptied its net early in the fourth but couldn’t solve Markstrom, who started in net despite playing Saturday but wasn’t bothered by the short turnaround.
“I always feel like I play better when I play more, rather than less,” he said.
The Wild have cooled off after an impressive December, having lost four of their last five — including an overtime loss at home to Calgary.
“When you’re fighting all the time, sometimes you go home and, for the players too, you’re chasing the game,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We’re chasing teams and you don’t have that cushion, so every game that you lose is magnified an awful lot.”
Canucks players reacted to Hughes being named to the All-Star Game. “They need to send a big brother to look after Quinn and Petey,” Markstrom joked. “That’s probably going to be my main job there.” … Stecher’s goal was his first in 26 games. … Wild LW Jason Zucker returned to the lineup after missing 10 games with a fractured right fibula, and D Greg Pateryn played for the first time this season after having surgery to repair a sports hernia in October. … Vancouver played its fourth game in six days. … Foligno has four goals in four games.
Canucks: Wrap up their five-game trip Tuesday night in Winnipeg.
Wild: At Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.