Minnesota Wild vs. Vancouver Canucks Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 16th 2023

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The Vancouver Canucks will try for a fifth straight win as they embark on a busy road trip that kicks off with a visit to the resurgent Minnesota Wild on Saturday in Saint Paul, Minn.

The Wild contest starts a stretch of four away games in just six nights for red-hot Vancouver, which is off to one of the best starts in franchise history.

The Canucks have won 20 of their first 30 games (20-9-1), slightly better than the 1992-93 season when it took them 31 games to reach the 20-win mark.

It is a dramatic shift in fortune for a franchise that has missed the playoffs seven of the last eight seasons.

Their current win streak began after a 6-5 loss to New Jersey Devils on Dec. 5, which goaltender Thatcher Demko described as a harbinger.

“That was big wakeup call. We now know we are not just going to step out there and beat everybody,” Demko said after Thursday’s 4-0 blanking of the Florida Panthers. “Since then we have come out better and played a complete 60 minutes. Now, we have to keep it going.”

Demko channeled his inner Roberto Luongo to stop 36 shots and record his third shutout of the season in the win over last year’s Stanley Cup finalists. His sixth career shutout came on a night the team honored Hall of Fame goaltender Luongo.

“I didn’t want to get shelled on Luongo night,” Demko said of his performance, which included 15 saves in both the first and third periods.

Dakota Joshua scored twice and Andrei Kuzmenko and Brock Boeser also tallied for the Canucks. Boeser, who is second in the league in goals with 22, has netted nine goals and 14 points in a nine-game streak.

The Wild are coming off a 3-2 shootout win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday at home. That gave them six wins in their past eight games since John Hynes took over the head coaching job from Dean Evason on Nov. 27.

Matt Boldy scored a goal in regulation and netted the decisive one in the shootout round to lift the Wild over the Flames.

Mats Zuccarello also scored during the shootout for Minnesota as goalie Filip Gustavsson (35 saves) turned aside a final shot by Nazem Kadri in the shootout round.

The Wild initially brought Gustavsson in as a backup to Marc-Andre Fleury but he is showing signs of playing his way into the starting role.

Boldy gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead at 4:42 of the first period after winning a battle along the boards and popping the loose puck back to himself before scoring on a wrist shot.

The play marked Boldy’s eighth goal in 20 games this season. The highly touted 22-year-old out of Boston College started off slowly but has scored seven goals in his past eight games.

Boldy felt that since the coaching change, they are more determined and playing much better.

“It’s just good to win,” Boldy said Thursday. “You’ve got a group of guys that work hard every night. (A lot of) desperation to win to get that kind of streak going so credit to other guys.”

Marco Rossi pounced on a long rebound and blasted a slap shot from the left circle past goalie Dan Vladar for his 10th goal of the season.

Rossi joined Chicago’s Connor Bedard (12 goals) as the only rookies with a double-digit goal totals this season.

–Field Level Media

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