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Wild skates past Canucks to move into 1st in Northwest Division

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ST. PAUL (AP) — Zach Parise had two goals and an assist, Niklas Backstrom had 25 saves and the Minnesota Wild beat Vancouver 4-2 Sunday night to move into a first-place tie with the Canucks.

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Jason Zucker and Jared Spurgeon also scored for the Wild, who won their fourth straight home game and beat their Northwest Division rivals for the first time this season.

Cory Schneider made 28 saves, and Henrik Sedin and Chris Higgins scored for the Canucks, who fell to 1-3-2 in their past six games.

The Wild have struggled with slow starts all season, but needed only 24 seconds to take the lead when Parise kicked off a contentious first period with his 10th goal. It was Minnesota’s first first-period goal in three games against Vancouver.

Things got testy with a slew of roughing, fighting and unsportsmanlike conduct calls midway through the period that saw eight total players in the penalty box at the same time.

Cal Clutterbuck had to be restrained in the box when he saw Alex Burrows took a few swings at Wild captain Mikko Koivu — over the head of the referee separating them.

A minute later, Mike Rupp flipped Tom Sestito’s helmet to the ice before throwing him down as the two fought.

Minnesota ended up killing two consecutive power plays and went up 2-0 when Matt Cullen slipped a pretty pass to Zucker in front of the net at 18:31.

Spurgeon’s second-period goal made it 3-0 before Higgins’ one-timer from the right circle found its way through Backstrom’s pads to make it 3-1 at 7:51.

The Canucks pulled to 3-2 early in the third when the puck was deflected into the air and hit off Sedin’s leg into the net, but Parise added his second goal of the game when he put the puck between Schneider’s skate and the goal post at 6:29.

NOTES: The Canucks haven’t scored in their past 20 power plays. ... Minnesota has a power-play goal in a season-high four straight games, and six of the past seven. ... Ryan Suter has a Wild season-best seven-game point streak. ... D Tom Gilbert (illness) missed his first game with the Wild. ... Minnesota is 9-2-1 at home, with points in five straight games.

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