Canucks gameday: Playoff push continues against the Wild

One day after a thrilling 6-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres, the Vancouver Canucks look to make it two in a row against the Minnesota Wild.

The Vancouver Canucks shrugged off back-to-back blowout losses on Saturday afternoon by defeating the Buffalo Sabres 6-3, but they’ll face an even greater test in Sunday’s matinee against the Minnesota Wild.

This marks the first of a three-game season series between the former Northwest Division rivals. The Canucks visit a Wild team that boasts a superb 11-4-4 record at the Xcel Energy Center — though they’ve dropped four of their last five games.

Both clubs are in a tight playoff race, but Elias Pettersson and company could really distance themselves from the Wild with a regulation win. Vancouver sits at 52 points for the season, while Minnesota is barely hanging around with 46 points.

Sunday’s tilt with the Wild marks the fourth of a five-game road trip. Vancouver will then travel north of the border to take on the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night, before heading home for a three-game set at Rogers Arena.

Players to watch

Quinn Hughes: It’s been quite the rookie year for the 20-year-old, who was named to the 2020 NHL All-Star Game on Saturday. Hughes will be counted upon to key in trying to shut down Minnesota’s top line, but he’s also riding the hot stick offensively. Hughes has a goal and two assists over his last five contests.

Eric Staal: He may be 35 now, but age hasn’t slowed Staal down in the slightest. He leads Minnesota in goals (16), points (33) and even strength goals (11).

Brock Boeser: The Burnsville, Minnesota native returns to his home state. Xcel Energy Center brings back wonderful memories for Boeser, who scored a goal in his NHL debut here on March 25th, 2017. He picked up two goals in Saturday’s win against the Sabres.

Zach Parise: Like Staal, Parise has defied his age with another superb campaign. The former All-Star has 14 goals and 26 points on the season.

Prediction: 4-3 Canucks

The Canucks will have it tough, playing their fourth game since Tuesday — in one of the league’s toughest environments. But following an excellent outing in Buffalo, it’s hard to bet against a team that’s been firing on all cylinders as of late.

Next: Canucks: Inconsistency won't get them to playoffs

Vancouver may struggle to keep up with Minnesota’s top scorers in the early going, but the Lotto Line will come through with a pair of third period goals to put the game away.

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