VANCOUVER — Casey DeSmith remains undefeated against the Minnesota Wild.
He earned the latest win after a 26-save shutout as the Vancouver Canucks snapped Minnesota's four-game winning streak with a 2-0 victory over the Wild on Thursday night at Rogers Arena.
The shutout was DeSmith's first since April 21, 2022.
"I didn’t know that," he said about his perfect record against the Wild. "I don’t think it’s anything in particular, I just try to show up every game and sometimes it goes your way."
DeSmith last played on Nov. 25, with starting goalie Thatcher Demko earning the other four starts.
"I’ve always been somebody who can have a long layoff and hop back in and do my job," DeSmith said.
"I think it’s an extra focus in practice, a little extra gear that I have to have so when I go into a game, the game doesn’t feel that much faster.”
Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet praised his netminder's perfect performance.
"Was it two weeks since he's played? That's what Casey does. He's done that in his career when he's had inactivity. he was solid for us," said Tocchet.
Nils Hoglander and Teddy Blueger scored for Vancouver (17-9-1).
Filip Gustavsson stopped 15-of-17 shots for Minnesota (9-11-4), which had won its last eight meetings against Vancouver.
The Canucks lost three of their last five entering Thursday's game.
Meanwhile, the Wild outscored their opponents 18-5 during their win streak.
“We're going to go through those lulls and the inconsistency," Tocchet said. "If you can stay away from those three, four, five, six game losing streaks, it builds confidence."
Much of the first period was one-way traffic from Minnesota, with Vancouver going without a shot until there was 6:42 remaining. The Wild outshot the Canucks 12-4 in the frame.
Hoglander opened the scoring with 1:55 left in the first for his ninth of the season. The left-winger brought the puck up ice from his own zone, cut into the slot from just above the right faceoff circle and beat Gustavsson with a wrist shot.
"I think they came out pretty hard in the first," said Hoglander about his winner. "I don’t think that was our best first period. That was a big goal that our line scored."
While the second period was scoreless, things had changed. The Canucks recorded 10 shots to the Wild's four, with Filip Hronek and Elias Pettersson having the closest scoring chances for Vancouver.
"I felt like we had full control in the first period there and then they made a great read great screen there," said Gustavsson about his team's performance.
"Hoglander was just waiting there and he saw an opportunity to put it just in there. Then second period, they had more control over it and I think I came up with some good saves, DeSmith did that too and we just couldn't break through him."
Blueger got in on the action 2:05 into the third period with his second of the season. After Conor Garland's pass split the Wild's defence, Blueger deked Gustavsson from in close, going backhand then forehand to beat the sprawling goaltender.
Gustavsson was pulled in the final two minutes as the Wild looked to stage a comeback.
Canucks forward Philip Di Giuseppe made his return after being a healthy scratch the past two games … Vancouver's home game was its first "Firefighters’ Night" to honour firefighters' work during a historic wildfire season this past summer.
Vancouver hosts the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.
Minnesota heads to Edmonton to face the Oilers on Friday in the third of its four-game road trip.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2023.
Nick Wells, The Canadian Press