VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Roberto Luongo doesn’t have an explanation why the Minnesota Wild can’t score against him when he is home in Vancouver.
Luongo made 25 saves, and the host Canucks beat the Wild 2-1 on Tuesday night for their sixth straight win.
Luongo’s home shutout streak against the Wild ended at 228 minutes, 26 seconds but he held on for the win. He still hasn’t lost a game in regulation this season (4-0-2).
“Whether it’s a coincidence or what, I’ll take it,” Luongo said of his success against Minnesota. “They’re divisional games so they’re important. We have a pretty good streak against them.”
Luongo, who is splitting time in goal this season with Cory Schneider, lowered his goals-against average to 1.45, behind only Ottawa’s Craig Anderson.
“They’re making a lot of key saves for us when we’re down or in tight games,” Vancouver forward Jannik Hansen said.
Kevin Bieksa and Hansen scored for Vancouver (8-2-2).
Devin Setoguchi had the only goal for the Wild (6-6-1), whose two-game winning streak was snapped. Minnesota hasn’t won in Vancouver since Jan. 31, 2009 (0-9-2).
It was just the seventh goal the Wild have scored in six games.
“We got a find a way to score,” forward Zach Parise said. “That’s too many games of just getting one. We’ve got to generate offense, and it’s not good enough right now.”
Darcy Kuemper stopped 28 shots in a losing effort in his NHL debut. Kuemper was called up because Josh Harding was dealing with the effects of medication he takes for multiple sclerosis.
Kuemper had a 1.79 goals-against average and .938 save percentage with the Houston Aeros of the AHL.
“It was a hard-fought, gritty game with two teams battling for every inch on the ice,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “We had opportunities to make it 3-1. Their goaltender made some good saves and their players made some key defensive plays and took us right down to the wire.”
Bieksa gave Vancouver a 1-0 at the tail end of a power play.
Zack Kassian rushed past a defender along the right boards and centered the puck to Bieksa, who beat Kuemper low with a one-timer at 11:33 of the first.
“I didn’t think the big man would find me, but he’s got some soft hands on him and he did,” Bieksa said of Kassian’s pass.
Luongo made his first big stop about 13 minutes into the game during a Minnesota power play. He kicked out his right pad to rob Charlie Coyle’s one-timer from the slot.
Mason Raymond and Keith Ballard combined to set up Hansen’s third of the season at 10:03 of the second. Raymond began the play by skating through three Minnesota defenders before feeding Ballard along the left boards. Ballard spotted Hansen at the right side of the net, and the Danish right wing beat Kuemper glove side, off the crossbar and in.
“I took a little longer than I would have liked to get it off, but it’s such a good play that I have so much time and I can kind of dust the puck off more than I would normally,” Hansen said.
Raymond extended his point streak to four games. His line with Hansen and rookie Jordan Schroeder continued to have success.
“They’re quick, and obviously their skill level is very high,” Vigneault said. “They made some nice plays and were strong on the puck. They combine the speed, the skill and a little bit of grit.
“They’re tough to handle, and the goal they scored was a real nice goal.”
Setoguchi got the Wild within 2-1 four minutes later on the power play with a highlight-reel finish. Mikael Granlund and Matt Cullen worked to dig the puck out of the corner, allowing Setoguchi to skate out front, dragged the puck to his forehand and put the puck past Luongo.
It was Setoguchi’s second goal in three games after he failed to record any in the first nine games of the season.
“Sometimes you’ve got to give a guy credit,” Luongo said. “I thought I had him all the way but he made a perfect shot.”
That goal came on the third of the Wild’s four shots in the period.
Vancouver came out of the second intermission looking to regain the two-goal cushion. Daniel Sedin had a partial breakaway but was turned aside by Kuemper’s quick blocker save, keeping the Wild within one.
Minnesota was stymied on its best chance to tie the game just past the 5-minute mark. Parise found himself alone in front, and his quick shot was kicked out to Ryan Suter in the slot, but the defenseman sent a shot off the post. Suter has yet to score a goal for the Wild since signing a big free agent deal in the offseason.
“We played the (third) period the way we needed to play it,” Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. “You can’t just open it up, and all of a sudden next thing you know they get the next goal.
“We stuck with it, we got the chances we needed to get, and we just didn’t finish. We did everything except finish.”
In the final minute, with Kuemper pulled for an extra attacker, Luongo made a big stop against Setoguchi, and then blocked the rebound. He made 10 stops in the final period.
“He walked in from the bench, so it was tough to cover him but I was able to challenge him,” Luongo said of his save on Setoguchi. “He wasn’t able to get (the shot) up so I was able to get a pad on it.”
NOTES: Henrik Sedin entered the game one point shy of Markus Naslund’s Canucks scoring record. He has 755 points. The Canucks captain hasn’t scored in 12 games to begin the season.
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