Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom (32) blocks a shot as Vancouver Canucks left wing Alexandre Burrows (14) looks for a rebound during the first period in an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, March 31, 2009 in St. Paul, Minn. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Paul Battaglia
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Roberto Luongo and the Sedin twins have the Vancouver Canucks looking as though they might be a force in the playoffs, while the Minnesota Wild are quickly fading from post-season contention.
Henrik Sedin scored four minutes into overtime and Roberto Luongo stopped 33 shots, leading the Canucks over the Wild 2-1 on Tuesday night. Vancouver vaulted over idle Calgary into first place in the Northwest Division and third place in the Western Conference.
"Back in January not many people thought we'd be in the spot we are, but we've worked hard for where we are," Luongo said. "We need to make sure here in the last few games that we keep pushing and try to get that third seed."
Former Wild forward Pavol Demitra scored Vancouver's regulation goal late in the second period and Marian Gaborik tied it at 5:14 of the third for the Wild.
The Canucks needed Luongo's dominance because they didn't have a shot on goal in the third period. It was the first time Minnesota held an opponent without a shot in a period since Oct. 29, 2000.
Daniel Sedin was credited with the assist on his brother's winner, a slapshot that beat Niklas Backstrom high.
The line consisting of the Sedins and Alex Burrows has totalled 19 goals and 41 points over Vancouver's last 11 games. The Sedin brothers' dominance has stood out down the stretch.
"The twins this past month when we've had 15 games to play have been our top production guys," Canucks coach Alex Vigneault said. "They've done it in pressure moments, and that's good for us with the playoffs around the corner."
Luongo reached the 30-win mark for the fourth straight season. Only four other goalies in the league have such active streaks.
Vancouver finally managed a shot 3:30 into overtime. Despite Minnesota's late defensive stand, it still wasn't able to earn the extra point.
"Everybody gave 100 per cent and we couldn't come up with the two points," Wild forward Stephane Veilleux said. "That seventh and eighth playoff spot are tough to get, so not getting that extra point hurts."
Both teams have a lot to play for late in the season. By leading the Northwest, the Canucks are now in control of the No. 3 seed in the West.
"It's very important. Now we're in charge of our own destiny," Vancouver forward Ryan Kesler said. "The division is up to us to have now, it's not up to whether Calgary wins or loses. It's been a long time since we've had a hold of it."
The loss seriously damaged Minnesota's already slim playoff chances. Minnesota is 11th in the West, and will need a lot of pieces to fall into place to overcome the three teams it trails with five games left.
One reason the Wild didn't gain ground on Tuesday was the failure to score on five power-play opportunities, including three in a row in the first and second periods.
"I felt that we didn't have enough on the power play," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "You just can't be waiting, waiting. You have to put the puck on net."
Demitra, playing against his former team for the first time, was credited with the game's first goal when his centring pass bounced off Wild defenceman Kim Johnsson and into the net. It was the 300th goal of his career.
Gaborik made it 1-1 when he beat former linemate Demitra deep in Vancouver's zone and slipped a backhander by Luongo.
The Wild were without defenceman Brent Burns and forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard, both out indefinitely with concussions.
Notes: C Rick Rypien returned to Vancouver's lineup for the first time since late October. Rypien missed 64 games due to a sports hernia. ... Minnesota signed Cody Almond, a fifth-round draft choice in 2007, to an entry-level contract Monday. ... Five of Vancouver's last six games are at home, including against Calgary on April 7. ... Before his overtime winner, Henrik Sedin was scoreless against the Wild in his last 26 games.