ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Radim Vrbata had just four goals this season for Vancouver before Wednesday. By his own admission, most weren’t pretty.
That changed against the Minnesota Wild.
Vrbata scored twice, Jannik Hansen once and the Canucks held off the Wild 3-2.
Daniel Sedin had two assists, Ryan Miller stopped 31 shots and Vancouver allowed fewer than three goals for the first time in 11 games, winning for just the third time in that span.
“I’m glad those goals help us win the game,” Vrbata said. “It’s a good start to the road trip.”
Vancouver, which went 1-4-2 on a seven-game trip earlier this month, will play in Dallas, Anaheim and Los Angeles this time before returning home.
Thomas Vanek and Charlie Coyle scored and Minnesota lost for just the second time in 10 home games.
“Tonight was one of those nights, because we have been good at home, we just expected a win, but we didn’t put in the work,” Vanek said.
The Canucks have been looking for scoring lately from someone other than Hansen and the Sedin twins. Their line had 13 of Vancouver’s 21 goals in the team’s previous seven games.
Vrbata might be that guy. He’s now scored three goals in two games after a nine-game drought and has six goals this season after recording 31 tallies last season.
“It was frustrating,” he said. “I don’t know if one game will change it, but hopefully this is the start of something good now.”
Vrbata got a fortunate bounce to snap a 1-1 tie midway through the second period.
On the power play, Henrik Sedin’s cross-ice pass was picked off by Minnesota’s Mikael Granlund in front, but the puck went right to Vrbata and he quickly swatted it past Devan Dubnyk for a 2-1 lead. The Canucks have a power-play goal in seven straight games.
Hansen scored on a breakaway early in the third, taking a long outlet pass from Daniel Sedin and beating Dubnyk high on the stick side.
“We kind of gave it to them. We weren’t even close to playing our game, losing battles, no sense of urgency, all that stuff,” said Coyle, who scored on a redirect with 1:20 to play.
Yet, the Wild still nearly earned a point.
Minnesota had a 6-on-4 advantage for the final 32.4 seconds, and buzzed around the Vancouver net. A tip by the Wild’s Jason Pominville went off the crossbar with less than 15 seconds left.
Vancouver’s penalty kill has struggled throughout most of November, allowing opponents to score on more than 30 percent of their opportunities. Those numbers didn’t improve in the first period when the Wild scored 27 seconds into a man advantage.
The Canucks finished 1 for 3 on the penalty kill and have allowed 12 power-play goals in 39 chances over the past 11 games.
Vrbata tied the game with 27.9 seconds left in the opening period, taking a pass from Jared McCann in the slot and beating Dubnyk with a wrist shot on the blocker side.
NOTES: Vrbata had three two-goal games last season. His last hat trick was Oct. 3, 2013. … Minnesota recalled C Christoph Bertschy from AHL Iowa under emergency conditions to replace C Jordan Schroeder, who was out with an illness. Schroeder was the Canucks first-round draft pick in 2009. … Wild LW Zach Parise, out since Nov. 5 with a knee injury, took part in the morning skate, but his return remains uncertain. … The Canucks, who play Friday in Dallas, are scheduled to attend the Carolina Panthers-Dallas Cowboys football game on Thanksgiving Day.
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