VANCOUVER â€” For Canucks fans, it was the wrong Granlund scoring a hat trick on Saturday night.
Mikael Granlund â€” older brother of Canucks forward Markus Granlund â€” had three goals in a game for the first time in his career while also adding an assist as the Minnesota Wild defeated Vancouver 6-3.
Mikael Granlund has been on a tear this year and currently owns the longest point streak of the season at 12 games. On Saturday he eclipsed his previous career highs in both goals (13) and points (44). He now has 15 goals and 33 assists and he’s a big reason why the Wild sit atop the Western Conference standings with a 34-12-5 record.
“Well, a hat trick really doesn’t happen too often,” said Mikael Granlund. “I don’t even remember if I’ve ever done that, so obviously it’s fun but I’m even more glad we got the win and we are on right path again.”
As for playing against his kid brother, it obviously wasn’t too much of a distraction.
“I really try not to think about that,” he said. “I think about it as a normal game, but obviously you know he is out there.”
Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Mike Reilly also scored for the Wild, who bounced back after a 5-1 loss in Calgary on Wednesday. Devan Dubnyk made 24 saves for Minnesota.
As for the Canucks, it was a third straight loss as their chances at a playoff spot become increasingly precarious. Vancouver is five points back of Calgary for the final wild card in the West and heading into a tough six-game Eastern road trip against some formidable playoff-bound teams.
“It’s going to be huge,” said Brandon Sutter, who accounted for two of Vancouver’s goals Saturday. “We want to make the playoffs and to be a playoff team we have to find ways to win on the road, pretty plain and simple.
“And we’re playing some good teams who are in playoff spots right now. It will be a good test for us. We’re going to find out what we’re made of.”
Bo Horvat also scored for Canucks (23-23-6), while Canucks goalie Ryan Miller made 33 saves.
After Reilly opened the scoring in the first, the Canucks answered back as forward Jannik Hansen, with three Wild players on him, drove into the slot, where Sutter grabbed the loose puck and swatted it in.
It was the first game back for Hansen who had missed 17 games with a knee injury. He mostly played on the third line with Sutter and Markus Granlund.
“It’s a long time to sit out and be out of game action,” said Hansen. “It’s going to take a little bit.”
Granlund got his first with 24 seconds to go in the first, banging in an easy rebound to make it 2-1. His second came shorthanded in the second, and the third was off a bad clearing attempt by Canucks defenceman Philip Larsen in the third.
“He’s a pretty special player,” said Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau. “I’ve only seen him for 51 games. I don’t know where he was in the past. I know he was a good player in the past, but his numbers weren’t quit what they are now. Boy he can make plays. He skates, he defends. I can’t say enough about him.”
Notes: The Canucks held a pre-game ceremony to honour captain Henrik Sedin and his recent 1,000 NHL point milestone. … Wild forward Alex Tuch made his NHL debut playing on Minnesota’s top line. He was called up Thursday from the AHL.
Jason Keller, The Canadian Press