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Wild handle Canucks, lock in second place in Central

Apr 21, 2022; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov (97) celebrates a goal in the third period with Minnesota Wild right wing Ryan Hartman (38) against the Vancouver Canucks at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Fiala scored two goals and Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and two assists to lead the Minnesota Wild to a 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night in Saint Paul, Minn.

Ryan Hartman had a goal and an assist, Jared Spurgeon scored once and Frederick Gaudreau added two assists for Minnesota (49-21-7, 105 points), which secured second place in the Central Division and will face the St. Louis Blues in the playoffs.

The Wild improved to 28-7-2 at home this season, including 11-0-1 in their last 12.

Cam Talbot finished with 21 saves to improve to 12-0-3 in 15 starts since March 3. He also picked up his 200th career win.

Elias Pettersson scored two goals, Conor Garland had two assists and Matthew Highmore also scored for Vancouver (38-29-11, 87 points). Thatcher Demko stopped 26 of 31 shots.

Following a scoreless opening period, the teams combined for six goals in the second period, including four over a 4:29 span.

Fiala started the scoring, finishing an odd-man rush with Gaudreau with a one-timer from the bottom of the right circle.

Vancouver tied it just 38 seconds later when Pettersson snapped a shot from the slot through Talbot’s pads. That made him the third Canuck to hit the 30-goal club this season.

Spurgeon put Minnesota back ahead 2-1 with a wrist shot from the right point past Connor Dewar’s screen. It was his 10th goal of the season.

Highmore tied it when Spurgeon lost the puck near his own blue line and then skated in alone and beat Talbot on his blocker side.

Pettersson then gave the Canucks their first lead when he backhanded in a rebound of Garland’s shot. It was his 31st goal of the season and marked the fifth time in the last 11 games that Pettersson had potted two goals in a game.

Minnesota tied it 3-3 with his 23rd goal of the season — a wrist shot from the top of the left circle off a nifty drop pass from Kaprizov.

Fiala then put the Wild ahead 4-3 at the 12:17 mark of the third period. He circled around the goal and then flipped a wrist shot past Demko’s glove side. It was his 32nd goal of the season and ninth in the past eight games.

Kaprizov extended the lead to 5-3 with 1:55 left when he one-timed Hartman’s pass from the slot past Demko’s blocker side. It was his 44th goal of the season. Hartman then sealed the win with an empty-netter with 1:13 to go — his 32nd goal of the season.

–Field Level Media