ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Niklas Backstrom got his first win in three weeks, and the Minnesota Wild scored three power-play goals against Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, sending him to the bench early in a 6-2 victory over the Canucks on Sunday.
Luongo, who began the day ranked in the top six in the NHL in both goals against average and wins, has given up five goals four times this season — twice against the Wild.
After falling to 13th place in the Western Conference, seven points out of the final playoff spot, the Wild played one of their best games this season right before the Olympic break.
Defenseman Cam Barker made his Minnesota debut and scored on a late slap shot. The third overall pick in the 2004 draft, Barker was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks in a trade on Friday.
Backstrom, who missed six games with a back injury and then an illness, made 27 saves. The Wild outshot the Canucks 17-2 in the second period and did just about everything right.
Guillaume Latendresse, Marek Zidlicky and Andrew Brunette scored on power plays, and Kyle Brodziak added an even-strength goal for Minnesota, which had beaten Vancouver only once in nine previous meetings until winning the last two.
Thanks to the Olympics in their city, the Canucks played on the road for the eighth straight game since Jan. 30 and have six more road games after the break through Mar. 10.
Mikael Samuelsson and Mason Raymond scored in the third period for the Canucks.
The Wild were sharp on special teams from the start. After Luongo made a pad save of Owen Nolan's shot on the game's first power play midway through the opening period, defenseman Alexander Edler whiffed on his clearing attempt and Latendresse swooped in to punch in the rebound.
Backstrom had more help from his blue liners than Luongo. Twice, Greg Zanon stopped a shot with a full-body stretch to cover for Backstrom, who has slipped from last season's All-Star form.
On the other end, seconds after Brunette's power-play score on a back-hander, Brodziak wound up on a breakaway and the Canucks left the rebound sitting right in front of the net for Clutterbuck to punch it in for his career-high 12th goal.
Even on Valentine's Day, these teams started their share of fights. Darcy Hordichuk was angry at Derek Boogaard's high hit on Olympian Ryan Kesler that smashed Kesler's head into the glass, and Hordichuk yanked Boogaard down with a horse-collar grab of his jersey that would've been a penalty in the NFL.
Both of them got five minutes for fighting, but Hordichuk was called for instigating to give the Wild another power play. Kesler came back for his next shift.
NOTES: The 12 players headed to the Olympics, seven Canucks and five Wild, were recognized before the game as they skated to their home country's flag. Four of the eight Minnesotans on the 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medal team participated in the ceremonial faceoff. ... Who said these teams don't get along? Canucks equipment manager Pat O'Neill, who is fulfilling the same role for Team Canada, offered to transport the bags of the Wild's Olympians on the Canucks charter back to Vancouver to spare them some travel hassle. ... Zidlicky also notched his 31st assist, a Wild franchise record for a defenseman with 21 games to go.