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 1-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
The Minnesota Wild’s 1-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche didn’t produce much in the way of highlights. It did produce two points in the standings, and they came against a division opponent, on the road, in the middle of a five-game road trip. Through the course of the NHL season, there are going to be games like this that go for the Wild, and against; see Monday’s 2-0 loss to Phoenix.
Neither team really dominated the other for any extended stretch. Both teams played solid defense. The difference was the Wild’s penalty kill was superb, and as Head Coach Todd Richards said after the game, “Your goalie has to be your best penalty killer,” and that leads us to Takeaway #2. Niklas Backstrom
earned his first shutout of the season tonight in a 23-save effort. So far this season, Backstrom has certainly faced more than 23 shots in a game. He’s had nights where he’s had to make much tougher saves. Some games, his defense didn’t help him out as much as they did tonight. But the bottom line is that Backstrom was on his game tonight. His rebound control was excellent. He just appeared calm at every scoring opportunity that the Avalanche had. Backstrom did get a good look at most of the shots that were fired his way, but that doesn’t mean his job was easy. The Avs have significant firepower, but they weren’t able to solve the Wild’s number one tender.
For the most part, the Avalanche was able to control the Wild’s top line of Mikko Koivu
, Andrew Brunette and Antti Miettinen. It’s tough to shut them down completely, however. Miettinen scored the game’s only goal, and while only Brunette got credit for an assist, all three played a major role in the goal.
Koivu won the draw in the offensive zone, getting the puck to Kim Johnsson. Johnsson’s shot yielded a rebound that Brunette got two whacks at before Miettinen cashed in for his fifth goal in five games, and his seventh in the last eight.
Tonight’s win puts the Wild at 2-1-0 on this current five-game road trip with an upcoming game at the Calgary House of Wild Horrors on Friday night. No matter what happens against the Calgary Flames, the Wild’s performance on the road is a night and day difference from earlier in the season.
Tonight was just a road win where you hang on for dear life. While a 5-10-2 overall mark in away games isn’t sterling, a 5-2-2 in the last nine road contests is pretty darn good.
Where would the Colorado Avalanche be if they never had to face the Wild this season? Minnesota is now 4-0-0 on the season against Colorado, and 12-1-2 in the last 15. The Avs now sit one game behind Calgary in the Northwest, but have only picked up two of eight possible points in four games against the flying W’s. Colorado has lost 16 games this season, although seven have come in overtime or a shootout. Still, the Wild is responsible for 25% of those losses.