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Flames top Wild 3-1

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARYMatt Stajan and the Calgary Flames finally gave the fans at Scotiabank Saddledome something to cheer about.

The Flames entered Saturday's game against Minnesota with just two wins in nine home games. But Stajan scored the tiebreaking goal 7:19 into the third period and added an empty-netter as the Flames beat the Wild 3-1 on Saturday night.

It was Stajan's first multi-goal game since scoring twice against the Washington Capitals as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 12, 2009.

"It seems like a while since I've had two in a game, but I'll take it," Stajan said. "That's a big win. It doesn't matter about personal stuff right now. We need to find ways to win and if we're winning games, it benefits everybody in here."

The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for Calgary, which is now 3-5-2 at home. Joey MacDonald, playing in place of injured starter Miikka Kiprusoff, stopped 30 shots and snapped Minnesota's two-game winning streak.

"This whole game, we took the wrong approach," coach Mike Yeo said. "If we want to score goals we shouldn't play like that. The Edmonton game is a much better blueprint of how they're going to come and we didn't execute the right way. We didn't play our game. The result was what we deserved."

After Chris Butler's initial shot from the point was stopped by Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom, Stajan wrestled the rebound over the goal line to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.

"In games like that, it's always a bounce or a second effort a breakdown like that where you have to crash the net," Stajan said. "We've lost a few games like that this year. We don't have to look too far back to see some results that went against us. And after, in the last 10 minutes, we kept on them. We didn't give up much."

With Backstrom off for an extra attacker and 31.3 seconds left in the game, Flames goaltender Joey MacDonald denied Calgary native Dany Heatley's redirect on his doorstep. Stajan then fired a Minnesota turnover into the empty net to ice the win.

Minnesota had a glorious opportunity to get on the scoreboard in the game's opening minutes, but it was the Flames who capitalized on the opportunity.

Catching Jay Bouwmeester pinching, Heatley hauled the puck up ice on a 2-on-1 and fired a pass that skipped over the stick of Mikko Koivu. Backchecking, Bouwmeester spun around and fired a pass to a streaking Alex Tanguay at the Minnesota blue line, springing him in alone on Backstrom. Tanguay dipped a shoulder and deked the goaltender, then lifted the puck into the net for a 1-0 lead 1:40 into the game.

"It probably took me to the hash mark before the puck sat flat," Tanguay said. "He's a good goalie. I've had many breakaways on him before, shootouts so I just tried to surprise him with something maybe I didn't show him before."

Playing in his first game after missing 11 with a hip flexor injury, Sven Baertschi almost extended that lead to two. On the Flames' third 2-on-1 of the period, Jiri Hudler fed a pass that Baertschi tipped, but a sprawling Backstrom managed to get a toe on it at 7:42 to keep it 1-0.

The save proved important as the Wild made good on another odd-man rush at 8:56.

Breaking into Calgary's zone on a 2-on-1, rookie Charlie Coyle redirected a pass from Pierre-Marc Bouchard behind MacDonald for his first career NHL goal to even the game 1-1. It was the first time in nine games that the Wild scored a goal in the first period.

"We need everybody contributing, everybody in the lineup going out and making the difference," Yeo said. "I was happy for him to get his first goal but I'm sure he would've liked to have gotten it in a win too."

Both teams tightened up their defense in a scoreless second period.

Minnesota came close to taking a 2-1 lead just 3:28 into the period. While killing an interference penalty to Coyle, Kyle Brodziak hit the post after a nifty setup from Matt Cullen. TJ Brodie answered that with a post of his own, firing a blast from the point that beat a screened Backstrom but not the iron with 7:50 remaining in the frame.

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