Baertschi scores twice as Canucks edge Wild 5-4
Vancouver Canucks' goalie Ryan Miller, left, and Minnesota Wild's Jared Spurgeon watch the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, November 30, 2016 12:55AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 30, 2016 2:51AM EST
VANCOUVER -- Sven Baertschi is starting to get his groove back for the Vancouver Canucks.
The Swiss forward scored the winner with 2:35 left in regulation Tuesday to cap a crazy five-goal third period as the Canucks beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4.
Baertschi, who had a goal and two assists in his last outing before missing consecutive road games with a foot injury, tipped a point shot from Troy Stecher for the final act of a night that saw Vancouver fall behind 2-0 and also blow a 4-2 lead.
"They played well right away, but we stuck with it," said Baertschi. "They got the two goals (in the third) which set us back a little bit, but consistency was key for us and it didn't really phase us."
Baertschi has been looking for consistency this season on a personal level after registering 15 goals and 13 assists in 69 games in his first full NHL campaign in 2015-16 by going to the dirty areas on the ice. He didn't score his first goal until the 14th game this year, but has played better in recent weeks alongside linemates Bo Horvat and the rejuvenated Alexandre Burrows.
"The chemistry is coming along and we're starting to create more and more," said Baertschi, who has three goals and seven assists on the year. "Pucks are going in as of late. That's a good sign."
Brandon Sutter and Ben Hutton, with a goal and an assist each, Horvat and Loui Eriksson also scored for Vancouver (10-11-2), while Ryan Miller made 38 stops. Stecher and Henrik Sedin each chipped in with two assists for the Canucks, who have won two in a row for the first time since picking up four consecutive wins to start the season.
Jason Pominville scored twice for Minnesota (11-83), while Jason Zucker and Erik Haula each finished with a goal and an assist.
Darcy Kuemper got the start with No. 1 goalie Devan Dubnyk given the night off and finished with 30 saves as the Wild failed to pick up a point for the first time in five games.
Minnesota came in having surrendered the fewest goals in the NHL this season with just 41, and despite giving up a five-spot to Vancouver still lead that category -- a stat line that shows how stingy the club has been.
"Goals and tips, weird bounces," said Kuemper, who was making his fifth start. "It was not a fun one."
Tied 2-2 through two periods, Eriksson gave Vancouver its first lead 1:09 into the third with his sixth when he finished off a scramble before Horvat deflected his team-leading eighth past Kuemper 59 seconds later.
But the Wild struck right back when Zucker blocked Erik Gudbranson's point shot and beat Miller on a breakaway at 3:20 for his third.
Kuemper then made a great stop on Eriksson just over a minute later to keep the Wild within one, and Haula rewarded his goalie by scoring his third on a tip from a Ryan Suter point shot that was going well wide with 5:49 left in regulation.
Minnesota head coach Bruce Boudreau was pleading with his players to get the game to overtime after they fought back, but was instead left fuming when Baertschi won it moments later.
"It was horrible," Boudreau said of the Wild's play in their own zone. "This is a team that gives up two goals a game. It was like we were saying: 'Let's see how many points we can get, instead of playing the game the way it's supposed to be played."'
Trailing 2-0 midway through the second with just 10 shots, the Canucks came to life on back-to-back power plays. Sutter tipped a Stecher blast at 9:23 for his sixth before Hutton pinched down from the point on another man advantage just 1:59 later to roof a loose puck for his third.
Hutton's goal marked just the second time this season Vancouver's power play has connected twice in the same game, and the first since Oct. 22.
"I thought the power play was opportunistic," said Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins. "There are other nights we've had better power plays, but Stecher had a good point shot on one and Hutton did a good job coming down the backside."
Already without Christopher Tanev, who has been sidelined with a lower-body injury since early November, the Canucks were missing the other half of their top defence pairing after it was revealed Monday that Alexander Edler required surgery on a broken finger suffered in Saturday's shootout victory in Colorado.
With the youngest defence in the NHL as a result of Edler's injury, the Canucks knew they would have to play a simple, error-free game, but were instead exposed early in the first. Luca Sbisa, one of the veteran members of the current corps at age 26, misplayed a puck at the Vancouver blue line to allow Nino Niederreiter to swoop in on Miller before Pominville buried the rebound for his fourth at 5:07.
The Canucks thought they had tied things with 5:18 left in the period when Henrik Sedin scored what looked like his sixth, but the call on the ice was overturned after Minnesota challenged that Sutter had interfered with Kuemper.
Pominville made it 2-0 with his second of the game at 3:24 of the second on a shot that beat Miller under the blocker, but the Canucks turned things around to pick up consecutive victories after alternating wins and losses for 10 games.
"It's been tough -- win one, lose one, win one," said Hutton. "Hopefully we can continue to roll with it and get on a nice little streak here."