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Wild beat Canucks 2-1 for fourth straight win, take over division lead

The Canadian Press
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Vancouver Canucks winger Alex Borrows (14) and Minnesota Wild defenseman Keith Carney (3) struggle for position during the second period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, in St Paul, Minn. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Paul Battaglia Author: The Hockey News

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Wild beat Canucks 2-1 for fourth straight win, take over division lead

The Canadian Press
By:

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Aaron Voros and Eric Belanger scored to lead the Minnesota Wild to a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

It was the fourth straight win for Minnesota, which moved into sole possession of first place in the Northwest Division.

Mike Brown scored for Vancouver, which lost in regulation for just the second time in 13 outings to fall two points behind the Wild. The shutout streak by Roberto Luongo ended at 210 minutes, 34 seconds, a franchise and career best.

Voros scored an improbable goal late in the second period, lifting a pass from Marian Gaborik over Luongo's shoulder. After passing to Gaborik from below the goal-line, Voros - better known for his physical play than his stickwork - skated to edge of the left crease and took the shot as he was being checked to the ice by Lukas Krajicek and Byron Ritchie.

Luongo had to do most of the work because the Canucks' offence was out of synch, getting just 20 shots on goal - four with Luongo pulled for an extra attacker in the final minute. The top line of Markus Naslund, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin was held scoreless after combining for seven points in the last game between the teams.

Luongo's best stops were two first period shots by Gaborik from low in the right circle, and a glove save of a slap shot by Nick Schultz early in the third.

Minnesota took a 1-0 lead late in the first period when Belanger tipped a slap shot from Sean Hill past Luongo, who entered the game with three straight shutouts.

Brown tied the game at 5:39 of the second period, tipping a shot by Krajicek past Niklas Backstrom. It was the first career goal in three games for Brown, who had three points and 69 penalty minutes in 17 AHL games this season before being recalled prior to the team's Nov. 21 meeting.

The teams exchanged barbs through the media before that game, after Vancouver's Mattias Ohlund earned a four-game suspension for his two-handed slash against Mikko Koivu after Koivu elbowed him in the head five days earlier. Koivu has missed seven games with a cracked left fibula. The Canucks were also upset about Gaborik elbowing Ryan Kesler in the head. However, in a closely called game, Voros and Brown tangled in the night's only fight.

The bad blood between the teams didn't take long to show when Voros and Vancouver's Jeff Cowan dropped the gloves three seconds into the game. Cowan and Matt Foy tangled late in the opening period, and Brown appeared to challenge Voros during the same stoppage. However, just five minor penalties were called the rest of the game - two for too many men on the ice.

Vancouver's Alex Burrows also received a 10-minute misconduct after arguing a high-sticking call.

Notes: Ohlund was booed lustily when he was introduced as a starter, and every time he touched the puck. ... Minnesota enforcer Derek Boogaard missed his fourth straight game with a bad back, and RW Mark Parrish missed his second straight with an injured hip. ... Naslund was held scoreless and remains tied with Trevor Linden, a healthy scratch, for most points in team history. ... Vancouver began a stretch of seven of eight away from home. ... Minnesota is 14-0-0 when allowing two goals or fewer.

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Wild beat Canucks 2-1 for fourth straight win, take over division lead