Minnesota Wild goalie Alex Stalock (32) is crashed into by Vancouver Canucks’ Loui Eriksson (21) during second period NHL qualifying round game action in Edmonton on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Canucks blank Wild 3-0, take series lead in penalty-filled NHL qualifying clash

Jacob Markstrom stops 27 shots to lead Vancouver past Minnesota

EDMONTON — Jacob Markstrom stopped 27 shots as the Vancouver Canucks edged Minnesota 3-0 to put the Wild on the precipice of elimination in NHL playoff qualifying action Thursday.

The Canucks lead the best-of-five series two games to one and can punch their ticket to the round of 16 with a win Friday night.

Vancouver hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2015.

Brock Boeser, on the power play, Antoine Roussel, and Elias Pettersson scored for the Canucks, punching a hole in the otherwise suffocating Wild defence.

It was chippy, angry, penalty-filled afternoon affair at Rogers Place punctuated by low-probability long-distance shots, a lot of stoppages in play, post-whistle scrums, and loud liberal F-bombs.

There was no scoring in the first period.

Boeser broke the ice to score his second goal of the series at 13:49 of the second frame, backhanding a rebound off a Pettersson slapshot past Minnesota goalie Alex Stalock.

Two minutes into the third frame, Vancouver capitalized on a mistake to take a 2-0 lead.

Wild defenceman Brad Hunt bobbled the puck at the Canuck blue line, allowing Roussel to race past him, grab the puck on a breakaway and shovel it on the backhand past Stalock.

Petterson scored his first post-season goal late in the third, one-timing a pass from Quinn Hughes on a two-on-one power-play rush.

Game 2 was a parade to the penalty box and Game 3 was no different: hooking, slashing, roughing, tripping, and boarding calls were racked up by both teams alongside some highlight moments of thuggery.

READ MORE: Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

In the first period, Roussel was penalized after he ran over Stalock behind Minnesota’s net.

Midway through the second, Vancouver’s J.T. Miller and Minnesota’s Ryan Hartman scrapped after Hartman laid a dangerous hit on Pettersson, hitting him head first into the boards while Pettersson was bent over.

In the third, frustrated Wild forward Kevin Fiala elbowed Backstrom after the whistle, leading to Vancouver’s Brandon Sutter racing in to level him in the corner.

Stalock made 26 saves going the distance for his third complete game of the series.

For the most part the contest was a replay of Game 1, when the Wild threw a blanket on Vancouver’s forwards and Stalock made 28 saves for a 3-0 shutout win.

In Game 2, Vancouver snipers Tanner Pearson, Miller, Boeser and Bo Horvat managed to break through in a 4-3 win.

The Canucks were successful despite injuries taking a bite out of their lineup.

Forward Tyler Toffoli didn’t dress for a second consecutive game, dealing with an with an undefined foot injury. Forward Micheal Ferland has been sent home for the series, deemed unfit to play. Ferland has had concussion problems this year and played very little in Game 2.

The Wild wore their green uniforms as they were the “home” team.

There are 12 Western Conference teams playing at Rogers Place, with players in isolation to avoid contracting COVID-19. The Eastern Conference teams are doing the same in Toronto.

The Wild missed the playoffs last year preceded by first-round exits in each of the preceding three seasons.

Minnesota was 35-27-7 in the regular season, good for 21st overall and the 10th seed in the Western Conference.

Vancouver was 36-27-6 (15th, seventh seed).

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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