Monday was a day Alex Biega will remember for the rest of his life. Not only was the defenseman called up from Utica to make his NHL debut, he also delivered the game-winner as the Canucks defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Monday night at Rogers Arena.
The rookie defenseman scored his first career goal at 11:54 in the third period as he blasted in a shot from the point to give the Canucks a 3-1 lead.
Beiga had some help from Alex Burrows in front of the net as Burrows screened Devan Dubnyk, leading to some protest from the Wild that Burrows was interfering. The goal was good, and Biega was all smiles after the game.
Biega's heroics were almost wiped out in one of the most chaotic endings to a game the Canucks have seen this season.
With the Canucks (32-21-3) leading 3-2 in the final 10 seconds of the game, Matt Dumba found himself wide open in the slot with a chance to send the game into overtime. Eddie Lack stood his ground and used his glove to deflect the shot away. As chaos in front of the net broke out with just about every player on the ground in front of the crease, Jason Pominville had a great look on net, but Lack blocked that one away, too. Time expired, and finally, the Canucks had beaten the Wild with a 3-2 win at Rogers Arena on Monday night.
The win moved Vancouver into a second place tie in the Pacific along with the Calgary Flames while the Wild (28-21-7) sit three points outside of the final wild card spot.
With how Ryan Miller has struggled against the Wild this year (0-2-0, 8 GA, .784 SV%), it was no surprise to see Lack in net. Lack stopped 20 shots on the night to improve to 6-6-2 on the year, his third straight win after a rocky start to his season.
Devan Dubnyk, who made 26 saves, suffered his first loss in regulation since Jan. 19 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Fellow rookie Bo Horvat also had a big goal, giving the Canucks their first lead of the night at 1:33 of the third period. After a shot from Jannik Hansen deflected off Dubnyk, Horvat found himself in the right place at the right time to knock in the rebound goal and give the Canucks a 2-1 lead. The rookie center has been a source of production for the Canucks as of late with eight points in his last 10 games.
Do you Bolieve? https://t.co/Ao0jSukQ7W— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) February 17, 2015
Nino Niederreiter opened the scoring of the game at 8:55. The scoring play started when former Canuck Jordan Schroeder skated quickly into Vancouver's zone and delivered a centering pass to Niederreiter, who tapped it in past Eddie Lack for one of his two goals on the night.
Schroeder's always been a Canuck-killer. Even when he played here.— Erik Rolfsen (@erikrolfsen) February 17, 2015
The Wild almost added to their lead a few minutes later with a stroke of luck when Jonas Brodin sent the puck sailing over the glove of Eddie Lack from center ice, which then deflected off the glass and hit Lack square in the back before nearly trickling into the net. However, the puck hit Lack and just the right angle to stay out of the net.
Just 42 seconds into the second period, Henrik Sedin tied things up with his 10th goal of the year. Daniel Sedin skated in on net and used the pads of Devan Dubnyk to get the puck over to Henrik, who was right there to knock in the rebound. Daniel cleverly used the rebound to create the scoring chance rather than trying a centering pass, and the decision paid off nicely for the Canucks.
Zack Kassian and Shawn Matthias had another good scoring chance when Kassian hit Matthias, who had rushed into the zone, but the shot from Matthias deflected off the pads of Dubnyk. Both Kassian and Matthias have been on a hot streak as of late with eight combined goals since Feb. 7.
The Wild answered right back as Joran Schroeder and Nino Niederreiter hooked up again with Niederreiter scoring his second goal of the night from the slot, sending in a quick shot that deflected off Lack's shoulder and into the net, but the goal proved to be too little, too late for the Wild as Biega's goal proved to be the game-winner.
The Canucks will now head across the country for a five-game Eastern Conference road trip that should test the team. Three of the five teams Vancouver will face (Boston and both the Islanders and Rangers) are currently in a playoff spot. They'll be on the road for the rest of the month before returning home on March 1 to face the Blues.