Wild juggles lines, but Luongo still unsolvable

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 13, 2013 - 6:38 AM

Minnesota pulled within one goal late in the second period, but the Canucks goalie turned away several third-period chances.

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VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - The Wild had scored one goal in regulation in each of the previous five games. Roberto Luongo had shut out the Wild in three consecutive home games.

So it didn't bode well for Minnesota when it fell behind by two goals midway through the second period Tuesday night against the Vancouver Canucks.

Playing for the second time in 24 hours and for third time in four nights, the Wild impressively found its legs in the second half of the game but couldn't find the back of the net again as the Northwest Division-leading Canucks took a 2-1 victory at Rogers Arena.

The Wild, which lost for the first time in three games, hasn't won in Vancouver since Jan. 31, 2009. It is 0-9-2 since then at Rogers, having been outscored 40-15.

Now Darcy Kuemper, who made his NHL debut in the Minnesota nets, knows what Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding experience on an absolutely-every-single-game basis: little goal support. The Wild has 25 goals in 13 games (1.92 per game). It has scored seven goals in the past six games (not including shootout goals).

"We're getting chances," coach Mike Yeo said. "It's not like we're getting outchanced in all these games. It's not like the other team is getting 20 scoring chances and we're getting eight. It's not like that. We're at least even with these teams. We just have to capitalize."

Yeo tried to juggle lines in the final 30 minutes to spark the offense after Devin Setoguchi pulled the Wild within one at 13:03 of the second period.

Dany Heatley (no points in the past eight games) was reunited on the first line with Mikko Koivu (one assist in the past seven) and Zach Parise (one goal in the past eight).

They generated chances but continued to be snakebit.

"I don't know what the answer is right now," said Parise, seething and staring at the floor after the game. "It's just frustrating. We're all having a hard time scoring."

Backstrom, who played Monday in Calgary, didn't get the start to rest for Thursday's home game against Colorado.

So with Josh Harding feeling "off" after taking a new medication in his treatment for multiple sclerosis, the Wild recalled the 6-5 Kuemper.

Matt Hackett was considered the No. 3 in the organization, but Kuemper, 22, got the call because he has won five of six in Houston and has the American Hockey League's second-best goals-against average (1.79) and save percentage (.938).

Kuemper, who made 28 saves, had no chance on the Canucks' first-period goal by Kevin Bieksa and there were a series of lost battles in his zone when Jannik Hansen made it 2-0 halfway through the second.

But four minutes later, Setoguchi pulled the Wild within one with a power-play goal. Mikael Granlund knocked much bigger Jason Garrison off the puck and Matt Cullen set up Setoguchi.

The goal stopped Luongo's shutout streak against the Wild at 218 minutes, 26 seconds. He stopped 24 shots and shut the Wild down completely in a third period in which the Wild played well and created lots of chances.

"You're not going to win a lot of games when you score one goal every game," center Kyle Brodziak said. "You hold a high-powered team like Vancouver to two goals, you've got to be expecting a better result than that."

Said Yeo: "It's going to come. I know that. If we keep playing like that ... then it'll come."


    Up next: 7 p.m. Thursday vs. Colorado • Xcel Energy Center • TV: Ch. FSN (100.3-FM)

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