VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) – Vancouver rookie Cory Schneider lost his first NHL shutout late but picked up his first assist. All the Canucks’ new backup was worried about was a second victory.
Schneider made 23 saves in the Canucks’ 5-1 win over Minnesota on Friday night, but lost the shutout with 2:35 left on Antti Miettinen’s shot that went in and out of his glove before trickling over the goal line.
“I almost got too much of it. If it had glanced off it would have gone over the net, but I got a good piece of it and it just kind of popped up and snuck over,” Schneider said. “You’d obviously love to get the shutout but it all evens out. I got a few bounces early off the post and guys just missing.”
By the time Miettinen scored, it was easy for Schneider to shrug it off thanks to an offensive outburst by Vancouver’s third line.
Manny Malhotra led the way with two goals and an assist, Raffi Torres added a goal and an assist and Jannik Hansen had two helpers.
Ryan Kesler and Jeff Tambellini also scored as the Canucks avenged a 6-2 loss in Minnesota on Tuesday night. It was a pleasant change for a team that had gotten seven of its 15 goals this season from top-line winger Daniel Sedin.
“Any successful team has a real emphasis on making sure there is secondary scoring and we’re not riding our top line too much,” said Malhotra, who helped set up Torres in the first period and scored his two goals 5 minutes apart in the third. “They’ve done a fantastic job for us so far, but to be successful on a continuous basis we need those kinds of contributions from everybody.”
Jose Theodore made 30 saves in his Minnesota debut after first-stringer Niklas Backstrom made his sixth straight start the night before in Edmonton.
Theodore signed with the Wild on Oct. 2 as an emergency replacement after backup Josh Harding tore up his knee in a preseason game, and didn’t join the team until it returned from season-opening games in Finland. The former Vezina and Hart Trophy winner didn’t get much help, but kept it close before the Canucks scored three times in the final 9 minutes, including two breakaways.
“Theodore played well, he gave us a chance to get a point or earn a win here and that’s all you can ask of your goalie,” said coach Todd Richards. “And then your goalie plays great for you all game and you make some poor decisions coming down the stretch and leave him hanging out to dry.
At the other end, Schneider enjoyed five goals of offensive support for a second straight starts and even picked up an assist on Malhotra’s first goal.
“First career point,” he said. “I don’t get a lot of those.”
Schneider also played against Minnesota Tuesday, but only after Roberto Luongo was pulled after two periods. That was also the game that Canucks forward Rick Rypien grabbed a Minnesota fan while being sent to the dressing room after a fight with Brad Staubitz. Rypien was suspended six games by the NHL on Friday.
Luongo was back in goal for a 2-1 shootout loss in Chicago the following night, so Schneider got his second start of the season against the Wild as Vancouver played its third game in four days.
The 24-year-old goalie wasn’t tested often by a Wild team coming off a win in Edmonton, and got a break when the Wild hit a post while failing to convert a 5-on-3 early in the second period. But he has looked good early, with a .969 save percentage in his first full NHL season.
“It’s great getting playing time, especially with a team like this in front of you,” Schneider said. “It’s made my life easy and I’m getting comfortable and hopefully I can take on some tougher games on the road in the future.
NOTES: Torres’ goal was his 100th in the NHL. … Minnesota D Cam Barker sat out with a groin injury after playing in Edmonton the night before, and was replaced by rookie Clayton Stoner, who is from nearby Victoria. … Schneider’s second start at Rogers Arena this season already matches the number of times a healthy Luongo has watched a home game from the bench in four seasons in Vancouver.