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Voros lifts Wild over Canucks

By Michael Rusos

McClatchy Newspapers

ST. PAUL, Minn. — If nothing else, Minnesota Wild fans have one thing to thank the city of Vancouver for.

Aaron Voros.

Born and raised in suburban Vancouver, Voros, 26 — and just 11 games into his NHL career — continues to be quite the find by the Wild.

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Voros plays with such energy, it’s as though somebody slipped a triple espresso into his water bottle.

Sunday during the Wild’s 2-1 victory over Voros’ hometown Canucks, the always-jacked-up winger jacked up the Wild with a fight three seconds after the opening faceoff, and capped off a grand evening with the winning goal while face-first on the ice with a Vancouver player draped across his back.

"I love it," coach Jacques Lemaire said of Voros’ energy. "He scores a goal, it’s like his first goal — ever."

The Canucks dominated the Wild twice in the past few weeks, but this Wild victory was as lopsided as a 2-1 game can get. If it weren’t for arguably the NHL’s best goalie, Roberto Luongo, the Wild — which took 30 shots and gave up a season-low 20 — would have won by four or five goals.

"(The Wild) wanted it more than us," said Luongo, who came in with three consecutive shutouts and made several magnificent saves to give the Canucks a chance.

The loss was Vancouver’s first in regulation against a Northwest Division opponent (9-1-2), as the Wild won its fourth in a row and fifth in seven games to take over the top spot in the division.

The Canucks’ top line of Markus Naslund and the Sedin twins (Daniel and Henrik), which scored seven points against the Wild 11 days earlier, was limited to five shots playing mostly against the Stephane Veilleux-Dominic Moore-Branko Radivojevic line.

"They’re an Olympic-caliber line, but we did a good job limiting their space and opportunities," Moore said.

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The arena was lively from the instant Voros dropped the gloves with Jeff Cowan.

Said tough guy Todd Fedoruk: "That’s what got us going."

Luongo’s shutout streak ended at 210 minutes, 34 seconds, when Eric Belanger redirected Sean Hill’s shot for a first-period power-play goal, Belanger’s first tally since Nov. 11.

The Wild was all over Vancouver, but the cushion Luongo provided allowed minor league tough guy Mike Brown, playing his third NHL game, to tie it with his first goal early in the second period.

But with 3 minutes, 15 seconds left in the second, Voros scored his fourth goal in eight games from the side of the net. With Canucks forward Byron Ritchie all over him, Voros’ shot hit the post, then Luongo’s back, before falling over the goal line.

With Voros flat on the ice and Ritchie on top, Voros slapped his stick excitedly. He got up, pumped his fist and screamed in Ritchie’s face.

"I just tried to get it upstairs with the guy holding my back," Voros said. "I was fortunate to get it. I’m not surprised with the way I’ve played. Maybe the results and the attention it gets surprises me."

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