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Minnesota goes Wild in 3rd to grab victory from Canucks

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Brian Rolston rushed toward Roberto
Luongo on a second-period penalty shot and shocked everybody with a
quick slap shot from the top of the circles.

The puck sailed past the Vancouver goalie to tie the game, and
Minnesota seized the momentum.


Rolston's 10th goal of the season was a major part of the Wild's
rally from a sluggish start in a 5-2 win over the Canucks on
Thursday night.

"I was out, too, so he just got a piece of it and beat me,"
Luongo said. "That's the bottom line. Not many guys are going to
take a slapper from there. I'll tell you that."

Nick Schultz, Pascal Dupuis and Branko Radivojevic scored in the
third period as Minnesota broke open the game, and Niklas Backstrom
subbed for an ill Manny Fernandez to stop all 19 shots he faced
over the final two frames.

"The way the team responded was unbelievable," said Backstrom,
a 28-year-old rookie from Finland who picked up his second NHL
victory.

Backstrom became the first goalie in the modern era, which began
in 1943, to win twice before starting a game. Backstrom relieved
Fernandez after a three-goal first period against Nashville on Oct.
7 and Minnesota came back for a 6-5 victory.

Failing to control the puck and trailing by two with 15 seconds
left in the first period, the Wild used two big officiating breaks
to get back in the game.

Todd White's goal was initially waved off for kicking, but a
video review reversed the original call and cut the lead to 2-1.
White claimed he was skating away from the net and simply trying to
stop the puck as it sped toward him, not shoot.

The Canucks were livid.

"Everybody knew it in the building. That's all I've got to say
about that one," Luongo said.

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault questioned White's goal and
argued that the call was wrong on defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick that
gave Rolston his penalty shot late in the second period.

Rolston raced past Fitzpatrick to win a 1-on-1 chase, tried a
shot and then went sprawling on the ice after he was tripped.
Fitzpatrick figured he only should have been called for hooking or
interference.

"He still got the shot off," Fitzpatrick said.

There was another turning point for the Canucks, though, that
had nothing to do with the referees. Luongo, who made 19 saves, was
in command until Rolston's first-period power-play slap shot stung
him on the left shoulder and sent him face down on the ice in pain.

"I was fine. I was just a little numb for a few seconds there,
but it went away gradually," said Luongo, who had an obvious welt
on the area afterward.

Ryan Kesler and Jan Bulis scored 51 seconds apart in the first
period for Vancouver, which went 0-for-6 on the power play and
continued to struggle with the man advantage. The Canucks, just
9-for-81 this season, entered the game tied for 24th in the league
in that category.

Fernandez, who has started all 12 games in the net and entered
the night with a league-best .942 save percentage, didn't have much
help from his defense.

Kesler, on a behind-the-net pass from Alexandre Burrows, sent a
shot between Fernandez's legs for the first score. Then Bulis,
positioned perfectly between Wild defensemen Martin Skoula and
Petteri Nummelin, sent in a rebound of Mattias Ohlund's shot to
give Vancouver a two-goal edge.

Minnesota tightened up the checking in its own zone after that,
though. It was a much better overall effort for the Wild than the
last game, a 4-1 loss at Colorado that prompted coach Jacques
Lemaire to characterize his club's performance at the level of a
junior team.

But despite a 10-2 record that's tied for second-best in the
Western Conference, there is plenty of room for improvement.

"Let's say it's OK. Just OK. Only OK," Lemaire said.

Game notes
Rolston -- who moved into a tie for third in the league in
goals -- was named captain again for November, the sixth time in
Minnesota's six seasons that a player has been awarded the honor in
consecutive months. The team has a tradition of rotating captains,
instead of naming one for the entire season. ... Luongo has played
13 of 14 games.