Wild shows home is where the goals are

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 19, 2006 - 10:48 PM

After an 0-3 road trip, Minnesota returned to Xcel Energy Center and ripped the Canucks as Branko Radivojevic scored twice.

Oh, the sweet smell of home cooking.

Proving recently that it's incapable of winning on the road, the Wild returned Tuesday night to the comfy confines of Xcel Energy Center, where it owns the NHL's second-best home record.

In one game, the Wild scored more goals than it did during its entire 0-for-3 road trip and won in regulation for only the second time in 21 games during a one-sided 5-2 clipping of the Vancouver Canucks.

"We're a bunch of homers, right?" joked Brian Rolston, who had a goal and an assist for his eighth multipoint game [all eight have come at home].

Branko Radivojevic notched his second career two-goal game, and Pavol Demitra and Mark Parrish also scored for the Wild.

The Wild avenged a one-goal loss in Vancouver three nights earlier for its third victory in four meetings with the Canucks. Todd White and Mikko Koivu had two assists apiece and Manny Fernandez made 20 saves.

The Wild, which has lost 12 road games, including a team-record seven in a row, improved to 13-3-1 at home, where it has won four consecutive. The victory allowed the Wild to jump from ninth to seventh in the West.

"It felt good, I'll tell you that, especially after a bad road trip," said Radivojevic, who ended a 10-game pointless drought with the second-period winner. "Our division is so tight, we needed a big win.

"We had a great forecheck. We have to be physical, no matter what -- all of us -- and we did that."

The Wild established its game less than two minutes in after Demitra scored his second goal from the blue line in four days against Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.

"It's like dropping on me," said a baffled Luongo. "Exact same spot, exact same place. I don't know if he's doing it on purpose or what. It's not a clean slapshot."

It was the first of five 5-on-5 goals for the Wild, which entered with a league-low 42 5-on-5 goals.

"We had guys jumping on the forecheck, even the D's and centerman," Rolston said. "That's what creates 5-on-5 chances, that's what creates power plays -- when everybody's jumping."

Rolston opened the second period by scoring his 16th goal (11th at home) after forcing former Wild defenseman Willie Mitchell into a turnover, but Trevor Linden cut the deficit in half.

The momentum actually shifted back to the Wild after Koivu took a tripping penalty. With the Canucks on the power play, "we got outworked," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said.

The Wild got three prime shorthanded scoring chances (Wes Walz's breakaway, White's 2-on-1 chance and Demitra's shot off Nick Schultz's 3-on-2 pass). Luongo made each save, but the Wild kept pressing. Soon after, defenseman Keith Carney hit White with a long pass.

As White got tangled with defenseman Lukas Krajicek inside Vancouver's end, Radivojevic flew into the zone, found the puck and ripped a rising shot for a 3-1 lead.

It was huge considering the Wild had blown two-goal leads in its past two home games.

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