Canucks beat Wild in Schneider's crease return

Cory Schneider was sharp in his first start in 11 days, and the Vancouver goaltender received plenty of support from his teammates as the Canucks cruised to a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

Daniel Sedin, Chris Higgins, Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen all scored goals to back a 22-save effort from Schneider, with Raymond adding an assist to help extend Vancouver's season-high win streak to four games.

Schneider had not played since struggling in a 4-1 loss at San Jose on Jan. 27, with Roberto Luongo between the pipes for the Canucks' last four outings and allowing just three goals in the team's last three triumphs. The only blemish in his return, however, came on a power-play tally from Tom Gilbert in the third period.

Counterpart Niklas Backstrom wasn't nearly as crisp for Minnesota, which lost for only the second time in six home tests on the season. The Wild netminder stopped just 12 of the 16 shots he faced.

Minnesota has now dropped three straight and six of eight since a 2-0 start.

"[Vancouver] just played better than us. Pretty simple," said Wild forward Zach Parise.

The Wild had just two goals total in back-to-back road setbacks to Anaheim and Phoenix to begin February, and their offensive struggles continued early on in this one. Minnesota mustered just three shots during an opening period dominated by Vancouver, which took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission on goals from Sedin and Higgins.

Sedin snapped a five-game goalless drought with a one-timer nearing the midway mark of the initial session, a play set up by a pinpoint centering pass from Alexandre Burrows after a rush up the right side of the ice.

Higgins made it a 2-0 game by deftly tipping in Maxim Lapierre's slapper through the legs of Backstrom with 5:29 remaining in the frame, which would ultimately prove to be all the scoring the Canucks would need.

"The first period was one of the best first periods I've seen this team play, especially on the road," said Schneider. "To give up three shots and get two big goals, I think that really set the tone."

Schneider received considerably more work in the second period, making 12 saves and helping to kill off a pair of Minnesota power plays, and Vancouver would strike twice more within a span of 1:35 to go ahead comfortably.

"As a goalie, it's your job to keep it 2-0 and not let them get back into it," said Schneider. "I had a flurry of saves there and fortunately we got the next two goals to put the game away."

The Canucks converted their only opportunity with the man advantage in the second. With the Wild's Torrey Mitchell in the box for interference, Raymond collected the puck off a turnover and blasted it by Backstrom for a three-goal advantage with 2:43 left in the stanza.

Raymond had a hand in the next goal as well, leading Hansen on a breakaway with a chip from Vancouver's own end that his teammate buried into the net to put the Canucks up 4-0 just over a minute prior to the final intermission.

Gilbert prevented Schneider's shutout bid with 7:25 remaining, ripping a blast from the left point on a 5-on-4 after Matt Cullen won a battle in the boards and sent the puck back to Jonas Brodin.

Game Notes

Vancouver improved to 4-0-1 against fellow Northwest Division members on the season ... The Wild finished 1-for-6 on the power play ... Canucks rookie forward Jordan Schroeder returned to the XCel Energy Center, where the Minnesota native played his home games while at the University of Minnesota, for the first time as a professional ... Wild forward Mike Rupp debuted with his new team after being acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers on Monday ... Vancouver defenseman Jason Garrison participated in his 200th career NHL game.