Goalie Filip Gustavsson was ultimately the difference in the tightly contested 2-1 shoot-out victory for the Minnesota Wild over the Vancouver Canucks in St. Paul on Saturday.
The lone matinee game on the calendar saw the visitors fire 36 shots at the 25-year-old Swede who picked up his eighth win of the season and improved his goals against average to 2.84.
The Canucks had the only two shots in the five-minute overtime session and Gustavsson stopped his countryman Elias Pettersson on the final shoot-out attempt to wrap things up. Wild forward Mats Zuccarello scored the first and only goal in the three-round skills competition. Andrei Kuzmenko and J.T. Miller also failed for Vancouver.
The Wild tallied first with a goal late in the first period from Freddie Gaudreau. The Canucks D-men got split wide and the back-checkers seemed flat-footed as the Wild stumbled into the zone and managed a cross-ice pass followed by a quick pass to the front of the net where Gaudreau was headed. His 2nd goal of the season came at 18:05.
Vancouver found the equalizer early in the 2nd period in a similar manner. Teddy Blueger stormed the net hard and scored on a redirect from almost the exact same spot as Gaudreau. Blueger was slamming on the breaks under pressure from a backchecker when he tipped the puck up and over Gustavsson’s left shoulder. Dakota Joshua picked up the primary assist while on the move from the right wing corner after Conor Garland started the play.
That was the end of the scoring during the 65 minutes of regulation and OT.
“The execution, we had a tough time handling pucks,” Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said postgame. “You’ve gotta learn how to play these tight games when things aren’t going your way. Try not to give them much. Casey (DeSmith) was good.”
The Canucks goalie made 30 saves of his own, including robbing Joel Eriksson Ek twice in the 2nd period and once in the 3rd, and Marcus Johansson twice in the 2nd.
Tocchet was content to pick up the point in the standings for the shoot-out loss and looks forward to getting back at it Sunday afternoon in Chicago against the Blackhawks.
The Canucks will be considered prohibitive favourites in that game.
Canucks 3 Stars:
1) Casey DeSmith – 30 saves, holding his team in it, and making it literally a one-shot game.
2) Conor Garland – Found seams, had an assist and posted four shots on goal in 15:27 of ice time.
3) Teddy Blueger – Hard to the net for his goal. had two shots on goal and won 62.5% of his face-offs.
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