VANCOUVER – Rem Pitlick eluded the goalie but not the post.
"It was a wide-open net," Pitlick said. "How did I miss that?"
But when the winger had a chance to redeem himself, he hit the mark.
After blanking on that breakaway out of the penalty box, Pitlick set up the game-winning goal in his team debut in a 3-2 win by the Wild on Tuesday night that spoiled the Canucks' home opener in front of 18,870 at Rogers Arena.
Pitlick completed a tape-to-tape pass that Matt Dumba buried 3 minutes, 54 seconds into the third period, taking advantage of his addition to the lineup after getting claimed off waivers from Nashville during training camp and then being a spectator for the first five games.
"He made a pretty saucy pass to me," Dumba said. "It lined up perfectly."
The goal, Dumba's first of the season, flipped from an insurance goal into the decisive tally after Vancouver captain Bo Horvat lifted a puck over Wild goalie Cam Talbot with 4:07 to go in the third period. Dumba now has the second-most game-winners in team history among defensemen with 14.
Talbot, who's off to the best start of his career at 5-0, finished with 22 saves. Across the ice, Thatcher Demko made 27 stops for the Canucks.
This bounce-back effort after a sluggish 5-2 loss to the Predators on Sunday came after the Wild (5-1) had a sharper start.
For the first time this season, the team scored first.
Joel Eriksson Ek threaded a pass through two Canucks players to spring Mats Zuccarello for a breakaway that he buried behind Demko 7:41 into the first period – this after seven of Zuccarello's 11 goals last season were the Wild's first goal.
"The fans were fantastic here tonight," coach Dean Evason said of the crowd, which was back in the building to watch a regular-season Canucks game after a nearly 600-day absence due to the pandemic. "They haven't seen hockey for a long time, and their group was energized. For us to get that first one maybe gave us a little bit of an edge."
That Wild lead stretched to 2 just 2:27 into the second period when defenseman Jonas Brodin capitalized on his own rebound after pinching deep into the offensive zone for his first goal of the season.
But the goal wasn't the only memorable contribution Brodin made in the period.
He also blocked a shot, the 1000th of his career, to become only the second player in team history to reach that plateau; captain Jared Spurgeon is the other.
The second period was also when the Canucks started to eat into their deficit, getting a boost from their power play when Alex Chiasson redirected in an Elias Pettersson pass with five seconds to go in the advantage at 10:46 following a valiant effort by the Wild's penalty killers.
The same four-man unit was on the ice the entire power play and spent most of the session with only three sticks after Alex Goligoski's broke early in the penalty kill. Marcus Foligno handed his stick off to Goligoski before making a few key shot blocks, but the Wild ultimately couldn't clear the zone and the pressure ended up in the back of the Wild's net.
Overall, the Canucks went 1-for-3 on the power play while the Wild was 0-for-2.
"[Foligno] has a stick we get three clears," Evason said. "But we liked that the group didn't sag after that. It was more like, 'OK, you know what? Circumstances dictated that they scored that goal, but we did a lot of great things.' It honestly felt like we gained momentum."
While his linemates connected on the game's first goal, Kirill Kaprizov still hasn't scored this season – a six-game drought that tied his longest dry spell from last season.
The team showed video of the chances he's generated before the game, with Evason believing Kaprizov will convert if he keeps getting those "phenomenal" looks.
That breakthrough play didn't happen against the Canucks, but it didn't down the Wild – not when new sources supplied the offense to help the team earn just the second 3-0 start on the road in franchise history.
"Definitely you want to contribute a little bit to just feel part of the team and feel part of the 'W,'" said Pitlick, the former Gopher who's from Plymouth. "It's really exciting that we got that win."