<
>

Canucks raise home record to 6-0-0

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Alex Auld sure played like a
No. 1 goalie.

Starting his first game since regular starter Dan Cloutier
sustained a concussion last weekend, Auld made 16 of his 31 saves
in the third period to lead the Vancouver Canucks over the
Minnesota Wild 2-1 Wednesday night.

Throughout it all, the 24-year-old Auld appeared calm between
the pipes, even when the Wild spent the final 2:26 with a two-man
power play -- and increased it to a 6-on-3 advantage by pulling
their own goalie for the final minute.

"There wasn't much to get rattled about tonight," said Auld,
who was playing just his 20th NHL game. "I just think it's
important to keep all those things inside and you've just got to
show everyone else nothing, that's the biggest thing."

Auld certainly wasn't showing the Wild shooters much. He used
his 6-foot-4 frame to take up most of the net while moving around
fluidly in the butterfly.

He made his best saves in third, stopping Pascal Dupuis in tight
after Todd Bertuzzi's giveaway created a 2-on-0 down low for the
Wild midway through the period. Auld also stuck out his left pad to
thwart Brian Rolston on a partial breakaway with 5:20 left,
improving to 4-0-1 this season.

"Every time he's played he's been spectacular for us," said
Canucks defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who had a goal and an assist.
"We're confident in Alex while Dan is out. He's not a guy who gets
rattled. He's calm, collected and doesn't let much bother him. His
demeanor is always the same."

Jarkko Ruutu also scored for the Canucks, who snapped their
first two-game skid of the season and remained perfect (6-0-0) on
home ice.

Vancouver has outscored the opposition 25-13 at home this year.

Randy Robitaille scored the only goal for the Wild, who were
shut out in Calgary on Tuesday night and have just one win in their
last six games.

Minnesota is 1-4-2 on the road this year and has lost three of
four games against Vancouver, falling six points behind the
Northwest Division-leading Canucks.

"We had a lot of chances tonight and Alex played great for
them," said Minnesota goalie Dwayne Roloson, who stopped 28 shots
but remained winless since an Oct. 12 shutout against Vancouver, a
span of four starts.

Jovanovski opened the scoring on a power play 5:28 in,
one-timing Bertuzzi's pass to end the Canucks' 0-for-14 slide with
the man advantage.

Ruutu made it 2-0 at 15:42 of the second period with a shot
through traffic, but Robitaille responded for the Wild just 35
seconds later on a 2-on-1.

Auld made the one-goal lead stand up in the third period,
backstopping the Canucks' penalty killers against a Wild power play
that came in tied for first place in the NHL. He made a handful of
good short-handed stops midway through the period and got a break
when Pierre-Marc Bouchard shot over an empty net from a sharp
angle.

Auld had to be sharp again with Minnesota on a two-man advantage
for the final 2:26 after Bertuzzi was whistled for slashing and
Ryan Kesler and Sami Salo both got called for delay of game for
clearing the puck into the stands.

"We had chances to score, no question, and Auld came up big for
them," Rolston said. "We did everything right on the power play
except for score, and that's the bottom line."

The Wild pulled Roloson for the final minute to make it 6-on-3.
But Auld stopped Rolston, Bouchard and Robitaille early, and
Vancouver's penalty killers did a good job preventing Minnesota
from setting up in the final minute.

"The guys were tremendous killing those off," Auld said.
"Anytime you have 5-on-3 or 6-on-3 for the last 2½ minutes it's
definitely tough, but we showed a lot of heart and grit."

And, in Auld's case, composure.

Game notes
Both starting goalies passed a surprise equipment
inspection by Kris King, the NHL's director of hockey operations,
immediately after the game. ... Canucks rookie G Rob McVicar, who
has never played an NHL game, dressed as the backup after being
recalled from Manitoba of the AHL earlier in the day. ... Vancouver
LW Matt Cooke is out four to six weeks following surgery to insert
a plate in his face after his jaw was broken by an errant shot in
practice Tuesday. ... Vancouver D Bryan Allen missed his third
straight game with a bruised knee sustained while blocking two
shots from Rolston on Oct. 25 in Minnesota.