Spurgeon scores 2, Stalock gets shutout as Wild top Canucks


EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Jared Spurgeon scored twice and Alex Stalock stopped 28 shots to get his his first career postseason win, leading the Minnesota Wild in a 3-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 of their qualifying series Sunday night.

Kevin Fiala also scored — one of Minnesota’s two power-play goals. Eric Staal had two assists and Spurgeon sealed the win with an empty-netter in the final minute.

“Our guys did an unbelievable job staying with them,” Stalock said.

Jacob Markstrom, making his first career postseason start, also finished with 28 saves for Vancouver.

Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Tuesday.

Minnesota didn’t give up the middle lane to the Canucks and allowed few clean entries over the Wild’s blue line.

“We’ve got to get to the inside and make it hard for their goalie,” Canucks defenceman Alex Edler said. “Usually in the playoffs, it comes down to special teams and tonight we lost that battle.”

The Canucks mustered just four shots on goal in the third period and none on a late power play.

“Forwards were coming back so we were able to have good gaps,” Spurgeon said. “When we did break down, Al was making those big saves. It’s all four lines, all six (defensemen) and goaltender that’s going to make us get through this, so tonight’s a good start.”

Matt Dumba raised his fist on the Wild’s bench during both the Canadian and American national anthems Sunday.

The defenseman, who is half-Filipino, explained earlier in the day he intends to do that for the rest of the NHL’s restart from the COVID-19 pandemic in homage to former Wild forward J.T. Brown.

Brown did the same during the “Star Spangled Banner” in 2017 as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning to protest police brutality and racism.

With the NHL’s blessing, Dumba made a speech at center ice stressing the need for social and racial justice prior to Saturday’s game between the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks.

Three seconds into a tripping penalty on Edler, Fiala scored from the high slot at 2:50 of the first period. Markstrom got a piece of Fiala’s snapshot, but not enough as the puck trickled behind him.

“I thought we had some good looks, obviously their goaltender played well. Just got to put the puck in the net,” Vancouver captain Bo Horvat said. “It’s a five-game series for a reason. It’s far from over.”

Parise’s assist on Fiala’s goal gave him the all-time franchise playoff record of 18. The 36-year-old Minnesotan also holds Wild playoff records in goals (14) and points (32).

“The team has done an unbelievable job today to stay disciplined and stay with each other, to support each other,” Fiala said. “We won as a team.”

Vancouver squandered a chance to go on the power play late in the first period.

Markstrom was summoned to the bench on a pending holding penalty to Parise, but a sixth Canucks player prematurely jumped in the ice to negate the man advantage.

Minnesota made it 2-0 halfway through the second period when Staal fed Spurgeon a cross-ice pass from the boards. The defenseman from Edmonton whipped a low shot under both the left leg of a diving Edler and Markstrom’s left pad.

Spurgeon now has five goals in his last two games that counted in his hometown.

“Lot of good plays by teammates, giving me lots of time,” Spurgeon said. “Obviously we were lucky they were going in today for myself, but next game it’s going to be someone else. Each game’s going to be someone else. Kev got us started with that power-play (goal) and we just fed off that.”

NOTES: The Wild haven’t won a playoff series since 2015 — also the last year the Canucks were in the postseason. … Vancouver (36-27-6) was the seventh seed in the Western Conference, while Minnesota (35-27-7) was 10th. … Minnesota’s power play went 2-for-4. … Vancouver’s Micheal Ferland and Minnesota’s Foligno fought less than two minutes after the opening faceoff. … Unlike Scotiabank Arena in Toronto’s Eastern Conference hub tournament, fake crowd noise isn’t pumped into Edmonton’s empty Rogers Place. Expletives, exhortations to teammates and appeals to officials were clearly audible. One official responded “He knocked you down, you knocked him down.”

Photo credit – Codie McLachland / The Canadian Press via AP / Edmonton, AB