Following Wild games, Managing Editor Glen Andresen will give the five takeaways that he'll remember from each contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames.
A goaltending controversy is supposed to arise when the upstart goaltender is playing well and the number one is struggling. What do you have when both are playing out of their minds? A good problem?
After four straight brilliant performances from Josh Harding
, Niklas Backstrom
got the duties tonight. Part of it was because of his stellar numbers against the Flames. Part of it was because Head Coach Mike Yeo doesn’t want either of his goaltenders to collect dust on the bench.
Yeo seems to be getting this NHL head coaching thing pretty quickly.
Backstrom pitched a 3-0 shutout against the Flames to move to 5-0-0 in his last six starts against Calgary. This wasn’t one of those 14-save, barely tested games either. Backstrom turned away 41 shots, made at least 10 spectacular stops and was a huge factor in thwarting 17 minutes of Calgary power play time.
“It’s a good thing,” said Yeo. “It’s a good thing. I don’t know that we can really make a bad decision as a coaching staff right now as to who we put in net.”
Your move, Mr. Harding.
The Wild didn’t exactly follow the formula for success in winning games in the NHL. You don’t want to give up 41 shots, and you don’t want to play shorthanded for a large chunk of the game. Tonight, however, the Wild was actually at its best when down a man.
The Flames were getting their best chances at five-on-five. But when there was a Wild player in the box, the penalty killers were relentless in pressuring the puck. The Wild has now killed off the last 21 opponent power plays.
There was some controversy in this one.
Remember earlier in this streak when the Red Wings bench complained their way to getting the refs to call a highstick on Devin Setoguchi
, who clipped Todd Bertuzzi. It wasn’t the call that bothered me, but the fact the refs didn’t call anything until the bench complained after the next whistle.
Well, tonight it appears the refs were easily swayed again. During a second period fight between Nick Johnson
and Jarome Iginla; Johnson’s head clipped Iginla in the chin. Replays show that Johnson merely stood up and caught Iginla because they were so close together.
Iginla immediately started howling for a penalty, and he kept it up all the way to the penalty box. That was good enough for the zebras, who dealt a five-minute match penalty to Johnson.
That means Johnson could very well be suspended, but if Brendan Shanahan takes a good look at this one, you would hope he’d rescind the match penalty call.
Normally, you’d sacrifice a third line grinder to get Iginla off the ice for five minutes. But to that point, Johnson was a part of the Wild’s best line. He and Kyle Brodziak
and Darroll Powe
were the only trio that was really forcing the play and pinning the Flames in their own end for extended periods.
It was also Johnson that set up Powe’s first-ever goal in a Wild sweater, and they did it by Powe going hard to the net and getting an ugly off-the-skate goal. The best kind. Dany Heatley
scored his fifth goal of the season tonight, and all have come in Wild wins. More importantly, all have played huge factors in those wins. On Opening Night, he tipped home the game-winner against Columbus. In Edmonton, he scored in the final second to force overtime and an eventual shootout win. He tallied another game-winner in a 1-0 win over Detroit. He got the Wild on the board on Saturday in a tight 2-1 win.
Tonight, he scored another biggie. Clinging to a 1-0 lead, Heatley provided a huge insurance goal when he finished off a picturesque passing display on one of the Wild’s two power plays of the night.