VANCOUVER – Mikael Granlund was a popular figure in Vancouver on Saturday morning.
Not only does his younger brother, Markus, play for the Canucks, the Wild’s leading scorer was riding the longest point streak in the NHL this season.
“He’s a hidden secret that’s probably not too hidden anymore,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said seven hours before the Wild played the Canucks. “He’s as good a playmaker as I’ve seen for a winger.”
Later that night, Granlund showed he can score goals, too, during a 6-3 victory over Vancouver at Rogers Arena.
Granlund knotted his first career hat trick and had a career-high four points for his team-leading 12th multipoint game this season. He extended his franchise-record point streak to 12 games (five goals and 12 assists) and established career-highs for goals (15) and points (48) in 51 games.
Granlund’s hat trick was the 22nd hat trick in Wild history coming from the 12th player.
“Hat tricks really doesn’t happen to me too often. I don’t even remember if I’ve ever done that,” Granlund said.
Asked if Granlund was excited after the hat trick, captain and linemate Mikko Koivu said, “I don’t think he ever gets excited about anything.”
Added linemate Jason Zucker, “I think that might be the first time I saw him smile all year, so that’s good.”
Koivu had a goal and assist, Mike Reilly scored his first goal of the season, and Zach Parise scored a huge second-period goal after the Canucks trimmed their deficit to one goal. Defensemen Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon and Zucker each had two assists as the Wild rebounded from its most lopsided loss of the season three nights earlier in Calgary.
“I’m even more glad that we got the win,” Granlund said. “Now we’re on the right path again after last game.”
The Wild, 17-6-5 on the road this season, hasn’t lost consecutive games in regulation in three months. The four-game road trip (2-1) ends Tuesday in Winnipeg.
“It’s the way you advance in the standings, it’s the way you get points is if you don’t lose two in a row,” Boudreau said. “And it’s our goal. One of our goals is to not lose two in a row all year, and so far it’s only happened once.”
The conference-leading Wild scored at least four goals for the 22nd time. Maybe more importantly to Boudreau, the Wild outshot the Canucks 39-27 after giving up 79 shots the previous two games. Five of those shots came in the final minutes.
“We counted that we only gave them six scoring chances all night, so when you can hold a team to under 10, that’s fairly good,” Boudreau said. “We discussed third period not being safe, but doing the right things, and if you do the right things, you can play aggressively. I thought getting the puck deep, playing behind their net, not taking any foolish chances, I thought that was really done well in the third period.”
Alex Tuch made his NHL debut on the right side of Parise and Eric Staal. He didn’t look out of place early and had a couple scoring chances.
“I thought it was OK,” Boudreau said of his debut. “He had some chances to score. He’s a big, strong guy. There’s things he’s going to have to learn about this league, but everybody that’s every came into this league had to learn those things, but I thought it was OK.”
The Wild struck first after Zucker’s hustle caused Chris Tanev to ice the puck. On the ensuing faceoff, right-shot winger Jason Pominville took the draw on his strong side as opposed to left-shot center Erik Haula. It worked: Pominville won it cleanly to defenseman Christian Folin, who swung it left for Reilly, who stepped into the left circle and let it rip for his second career goal in 45 games.
The Canucks tied the score at 1-1 on Brandon Sutter’s first of two goals. Jannik Hansen made it happen by winning a battle for the puck along the wall.
But after a sensational shift by the Nino Niederreiter-Haula-Pominville line with Ryan Suter and Spurgeon regained momentum, Granlund tied the score moments later. Dumba circled the center and hit Zucker in front with a fabulous pass. Granlund scored on Zucker’s rebound.
Up 2-1 early in the second, Granlund scored his third career shorthanded goal. After a Koivu faceoff win, Dumba shoved the puck up to Granlund, who scored on a 3-on-1 rush as Marco Scandella drew Ryan Miller’s attention.
Bo Horvat cut the deficit to 3-2 on a 2-on-1, but after Staal won a puck battle, Parise redirected his 10th goal off a Spurgeon shot.
Granlund set up Koivu for a three-goal lead with 1:41 left in the second, but Koivu took a penalty and Sutter made it 5-3 with 43 seconds left.
In the third, after Granlund triggered an odd-man rush, he buried his third goal off Zucker’s rebound.
“He’s a pretty special player,” Boudreau said of Granlund. “Boy. he can make plays, he skates, he defends. I can’t say enough about him.”