Wild clobber Canucks

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, December 16, 2015

ST. PAUL — For once, the defense-driven Minnesota Wild were able to let loose and enjoy a laugher.

Thomas Vanek scored one of Minnesota’s three power-play goals and added three assists, leading the Wild to a 6-2 romp over the road-weary Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.

“It kind of got boring. That’s not our style of play,” defenseman Ryan Suter said, sarcastically. “But it’s good to see guys get some points and be able to take it a little easy in the third. We’ve been playing well, guys are buying in defensively, and it was bound to happen.”

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Mikko Koivu also scored and had three assists, Zach Parise added a goal and two assists and backup goalie Darcy Kuemper turned in another sharp performance for the Wild, who improved to 5-0-3 in their last eight games.

Ryan Miller had a rough time in net for the Canucks, giving up all six goals in two periods before being pulled at the second intermission. But he was peppered with 36 shots during a defense-deficient performance by his teammates.

“Can’t blame it on Millsy. It could have been 10-1 after two periods. We kind of left him out to dry tonight,” left wing Chris Higgins said.

Jason Zucker scored for Minnesota, too, giving the new Koivu-centered first line with Vanek on left wing a nine-point night. Coach Mike Yeo noticed the chemistry between Koivu and Vanek in the previous game, a 2-0 win at San Jose, and knew he should stick with it.

“We’ve been getting chances. It’s just not been going in in a lot of those,” said Koivu, who won 18 of 23 faceoffs. “Tonight I think everything seemed to find the net, and for sure that’s a good sign.”

Miller had his last name chanted derisively by the crowd and later was taunted with the “Sieve! Sieve! Sieve!” chant, but this was hardly his fault. With the man advantage early in the first period, Vanek was in perfect position to tap in Parise’s pass that was so crisp he barely had to move for his team-high 11th goal.

Parise was the first of four Wild players who scored in the second period, on his third attempt after Miller turned aside the first two tries. Without any defense near him in front of the right circle, Parise knocked in the bad-angle rebound past Miller’s left pad.

“If things break down, I have to make reads. I was trying to battle and find some pucks, but they just made some plays around us tonight,” Miller said. “For me, it’s just if I can’t find a way, regroup and go after the next puck. I can’t judge the guys, and I can’t sit there and try and coach.”

Suter and Marco Scandella tacked on the last two goals for the Wild in their largest output since a 6-3 victory over St. Louis here last March 21. The Wild raised their home record this season to 11-3-1.

Since Devan Dubnyk has been out with a strained groin muscle, Kuemper is 3-0-2. He stopped 29 shots. The Wild have allowed just seven goals in seven games in December (five in regulation), which has recently been a rough month for them.

“It comes with confidence,” Vanek said.

Jannik Hansen and Daniel Sedin scored for Vancouver, and linemate Henrik Sedin assisted on each one. But the Canucks were dominated from start to finish and fell to 1-6-3 in their last 10 games away from home. Their only win in that stretch was at Minnesota on Nov. 25.

On the first two stops of this six-game road trip, the Canucks have been outscored 10-1. They are 2-5-2 in their last nine overall.

“There’s quite a bit that bothered me,” coach Willie Desjardins said.

NOTES: Vanek is second in the NHL since entering the league in the 2005-06 season with 122 power-play goals, behind Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. Vanek has five goals and nine assists in 12 career games against the Canucks. … The last time the Wild had a player with four points in a game was Parise on Jan. 30, 2014, at Colorado. … The Canucks fell to 2-5-2 against the Central Division. … Daniel Sedin has seven goals and nine assists in his last 12 games. … Koivu’s last four-point game was on Jan. 2, 2011, against the Coyotes.