Kaprizov scores twice as Minnesota Wild edge Vancouver Canucks 2-1
VANCOUVER — Kirill Kaprizov scored twice and the Minnesota Wild extended their point streak with a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.
The Wild (35-21-6) have points in their last eight games and have gone 7-0-1 since their last regulation loss on Feb. 15.
Brock Boeser put away the lone goal for the Canucks (24-32-5) on a second-period power play.
Marc Andre-Fleury made 21 saves for Minnesota and improved to 15-3-2 against the Canucks across his career.
Vancouver's Thatcher Demko stopped 34-of-36 shots in his first start at Rogers Arena since suffering a groin injury on Dec. 1.
The Canucks pulled the goalie in favour of an extra attacker with 1:52 left on the game clock, but quickly lost the offensive advantage when J.T. Miller was called for holding on Kaprizov.
Vancouver came on strong in the third and kept the visitors from registering a shot until Kaprizov sent a puck ricocheting off Demko's helmet on a power play 8:08 into the period.
The Wild had a prime opportunity to cushion their lead when the Canucks took back-to-back penalties midway through the second.
Kyle Burroughs was called for holding and nine seconds later, Elias Pettersson joined him in the box for putting the puck over the glass, giving the Wild a two-man advantage for a minute and 51 seconds.
The Canucks — who came into Thursday's game having killed a league-worst 66.7 per cent of their penalties — managed to weather the adversity with Demko stopping all three shots he faced across the stretch.
The goalie stopped a bullet from Kaprizov earlier in the period when the Wild's leading scorer darted into the Canucks' zone on a breakaway. Demko used his right pad to stop the ensuing shot, but couldn't get the rebound and Kaprizov fired the puck over his left shoulder to put Minnesota up 2-1.
Coming 3:40 into the second, the goal was Kaprizov's second of the night and his 39th of the season.
The Canucks levelled the score at 1-1 with a power-play marker ahead of the first intermission.
Stationed on the goal line, Vitali Kravtsov sliced a pass to Boeser and the right-winger blasted a one-timer past Fleury 14:03 into the opening frame.
Kravtsov earned an assist on the play, marking his first point in a Canucks jersey. Vancouver acquired the 23-year-old right-winger from the New York Rangers for depth forward Will Lockwood and a seventh-round pick in the 2026 draft on Saturday.
The goal ended a streak where the Wild killed off 27 straight penalties across 14 games.
Vancouver went 1 for 3 on the power play Thursday, while Minnesota was 0 for 4.
Kaprizov's first strike of the night came just 44 seconds into the game.
The Russian left-winger sent a pass to Jared Spurgeon from behind the net, then snuck to the side of the crease where, unmanned, he collected the puck from Mats Zuccarello and tapped a quick shot in behind Demko.
Miller returned to the Canucks' lineup after suffering a lower-body injury in Vancouver's 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday. The team said Monday that the 29-year-old centre was "week-to-week" with the ailment.
FIRST NATIONS CELEBRATION
Vancouver held its fifth annual First Nations game and celebrated the life of former Canuck Wayne "Gino" Odjick, who died in January at 52. Players wore special warm-up jerseys designed by Odjick's cousin, artist Jay Odjick, each emblazoned with the legendary enforcer's name and No. 29 on the back. "Gi-no!" chants were heard several times throughout the night and in-game entertainment featured a number of Indigenous performers, including the Juno-nominated Snotty Nose Rez Kids.
Canucks: Continue a six-game homestand Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Wild: Visit the Flames in Calgary on Saturday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2023.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press