Sizzling Conor Garland leads Canucks into first homestand, Wild up first

National Sports

After opening the season with a six-game road trip, the Vancouver Canucks finally hit the ice for a home clash Tuesday when they host the Minnesota Wild.

The Canucks go into a seven-game homestand on a high, scoring a second consecutive win Saturday with a 4-2 comeback victory over the expansion Seattle Kraken.

“We should be happy with this road trip,” captain Bo Horvat said after the Canucks posted a 3-2-1 mark during a trip that included action in all four of the NHL’s time zones

“Obviously, there was some ups and downs, but I thought we responded well from playing bad in Buffalo. Getting those last two wins was huge for our group.”

Horvat scored twice in Seattle, giving him three goals on the young season, matching Conor Garland for the club lead.

“You want to play with a lead, you want to play a full 60 minutes and maybe not get down in the third period and have to claw our way back,” Horvat said. “But again, it just shows we have resilience in the room and guys stepped up at different times. I’m just overall happy to get that win.”

The Canucks trailed the Kraken 2-1 with less than eight minutes remaining before riding a late outburst to win. Garland, who was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in the offseason, scored the game-winning goal, which gives him eight points in a season-opening six-game point streak — the longest ever by a player starting his time in Vancouver.

“It’s been a lot of fun for me,” Garland said.

The Wild arrive on the West Coast after dropping a 5-2 home game to the Nashville Predators on Sunday, which snapped a four-game winning streak that kicked off the campaign.

Although Minnesota started the season on a roll, the warning signs of trouble have been looming. The Wild had been forced to overcome a deficit in each of their first four games en route to victories, becoming only the fourth team in league history to complete that feat.

“At some point we just got to score first,” forward Nico Sturm said. “It’s as simple as that.”

If that’s not enough, Minnesota has surrendered a power-play goal against in each of the first five games, and Nashville’s two power-play goals in the opening six minutes proved too much for the Wild to overcome. Minnesota trailed 3-0 at the end of the first period and it was 5-1 late in the second.

“They took it to us right off the bat, got the two power-play goals as well, and that’s something we have to get better at is killing those penalties,” captain Jared Spurgeon said. “Every game so far there has been one going in. We haven’t had the best of starts and we just gotta figure that out and then again, in the second I thought we started to get momentum, then one bad shift and it led to a goal against. We just gotta figure that out as well.”

Another concern for the Wild is the struggles of last season’s rookie of the year Kirill Kaprizov.

Kaprizov, who collected 27 goals and 56 points in 60 games last season, has yet to light the lamp this season. The forward who signed a five-year, $45-million contract, has five assists on the season, but no points in the past two games.

“He’s getting special attention, and when you try to do too much and try to do something extra to try to beat somebody, it doesn’t go well because not only one guy is concentrating on you, all five guys on the ice are watching for him,” coach Dean Evason said. “So, if you try to beat people one-on-one, it usually turns over. Or try to make a softer play, it turns over. He’s a gritty guy. He’ll figure it out.”

–Field Level Media

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