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Backstrom strong in net as Wild beat Penguins 2-1 in shootout @NHLdotcom

PITTSBURGH - Not many teams can beat the Pittsburgh Penguins by putting the puck into the net only once. The Minnesota Wild accomplished it the timeworn way, with an excellent defence and a goaltender who is allowing fewer goals than his low-scoring team is getting.

Marek Zidlicky scored the only goal in the shootout and the Minnesota Wild benefited from a gift goal that Pittsburgh put into its net for a 2-1 victory Tuesday night that ended the Penguins' six-game winning streak.

Niklas Backstrom, 3-0 in shootouts this season, stopped 24 of 25 shots before turning aside Petr Sykora, Alex Goligoski and Sidney Crosby in the tiebreaker. Crosby, 9-of-32 in career attempts, needed to score to keep the shootout going but couldn't beat the Wild goalie with a wrist shot.

"You look at their lineup and look at their players. To keep them to one goal, that's a big effort," said Backstrom, who has allowed six goals while winning four of five. "You always want to compare yourself against the best teams out there, and you try to get up there. Your team gets confidence when you beat them."

Especially when a team is scoring as infrequently as Minnesota is, with only 15 goals in the last eight. But the Wild are allowing fewer than two goals per game, and their NHL-leading, penalty-killing unit stopped all four Penguins power play attempts. One came during the final 1:28 of overtime following Brent Burns' high-sticking penalty.

"Our goalie was great," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "I think he's the one that gave us the two points."

NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin's 13-game point streak ended for Pittsburgh. He had scored at least one goal in each of his previous three games, but was credited with only one shot despite having several good scoring chances. Malkin had six goals and 21 assists during the streak.

"I felt as a whole team, we played really, really strong against them. We gave them no time," defenceman Kim Johnsson said. "We talked about that before the game. We gave them no time with the puck."

Minnesota's trapping defence frustrated Pittsburgh at times, yet the Penguins - tied for second in scoring in the Eastern Conference coming in with 58 goals in 17 games - had far more good chances.

"We had opportunities, for sure," Crosby said. "A lot of teams play well defensively. We've played Jersey enough to know our game doesn't change, we're still going to get chances if we do the right things."

Minnesota's only goal in regulation was credited to Mikko Koivu at 7:57 of the first, although he had no hand - or stick - in his third of the season.

Koivu appeared to win a draw from NHL faceoff leader Mike Zigomanis, but the puck took an odd bounce off a linesman's leg and deflected to Zigomanis. He shovelled it backward to defenceman Hal Gill, only to have the puck trickle between goalie Dany Sabourin's pads and into the net.

"It was a tough bounce. The puck was bouncing, coming toward my blocker and I opened up a little bit and it bounced again and by the time I squeezed my legs, the puck was on its edge a little bit," Sabourin said.

Several players came up to Sabourin and promised to get the goal back for him. They did, and much faster than they could have expected.

The Penguins tied it 10 seconds later when Matt Cooke put a rebound of Jordan Staal's backhander from the slot past Backstrom for his second goal. Staal had a busy night, drawing a fighting major after dropping the gloves with Eric Reitz midway through the second period - only the second bout of Staal's three-season NHL career.

Nine of the Penguins' 18 games have gone to overtime, and they are 6-3 in extra time.

Notes: Pittsburgh had won its previous five at home. ... With G Marc-Andre Fleury out with an undisclosed but apparently minor injury, the Penguins recalled John Curry from the minors to back up Sabourin. ... Minnesota has won its last four in Pittsburgh and is 4-1 there. ... Malkin left briefly in the second period after being struck in the mouth by a ricocheting puck. ... Minnesota is 3-1 in overtime.

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