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Canucks score early, often to stop Wild 4-3, even series at 1-1

Sarah McLellan, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Hockey

EDMONTON, Alberta -- What once was a best-of-five series is now a best-of-three.

After the Minnesota Wild eked out an early advantage in a near-spotless performance in its return to play, the slate was wiped clean Tuesday night when the Vancouver Canucks responded with a 4-3 victory in Game 2 at Rogers Place to even the qualifying-round showdown 1-1.

A pivotal Game 3 that will push someone to the brink of elimination is Thursday afternoon.

Led by their top scorers who were mostly missing in the Wild's 3-0 Game 1 victory Sunday, Vancouver scored twice in the second period to crack open the action.

Unlike Sunday's opener when the Wild had control early, the team was in chase mode from the start.

Only 24 seconds into the first period, Tanner Pearson connected on the Canucks' first shot -- pouncing on a carom off the glass that sent the puck to the middle.

 

It was the fastest goal given up by the Wild in the team's postseason history, eclipsing the 26-second tally from Patrick Sharp (Dallas) on April 18, 2016.

The Wild avoided penalty trouble in Game 1 since it put Vancouver on the power play only once, but that wasn't the case in the rematch. Three consecutive penalties later in the first gave the Canucks a steady look at Alex Stalock, but the Wild's penalty killers were up for the challenge.

And they were rewarded for their efforts when Luke Kunin capitalized shorthanded at 17:16 -- a shot he wired by Jacob Markstrom after accepting an up-ice feed from Zach Parise.

The goal was Kunin's first career playoff marker, and he became the seventh player in team history to record a shorthanded postseason goal; Parise was the last to do so April 26, 2015, vs. St. Louis.

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