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 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Monday night.
The Minnesota Wild was able to capture its road magic and bring it into Xcel Energy Center. I wanted to get that sentence out of the way early because I want to unofficially become the first person ever to write that sentence.
Two days after leaving the Pengrowth Saddledome with two points, the Minnesota Wild had a huge opportunity to take two more from the Calgary Flames, and they did convincingly with a 4-1 win before a sellout crowd filled with 18,315 souls who braved the snowy conditions to see it.
For whatever reason, the Wild had struggled in recent outings at home, and after a lackluster home loss to the Ottawa Senators last week, players talked about rising up to meet this challenge of three consecutive games against division rivals. So far, they’ve backed up their talk, outscoring the Flames 7-2 in doing so.
Maybe it’s because I was a former goaltender, but whenever I see negative talk about Niklas Backstrom
…well, that really churns my butter. Sometimes, people forget that for every subpar performance Backstrom has, he turns out about four or five or maybe more outings like he did tonight in making 34 huge stops. Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy and Ken Dryden all had bad outings in their careers. I think even I might have had one or two bad games in my illustrious career. Backstrom doesn’t have many, so let’s appreciate what we have in this guy.
“Our goalie was great…The big difference in the game was the goaltending,” said Head Coach Todd Richards simply.
When he needed to scramble and lunge for remarkable saves, Backstrom did that. When he needed to make tough saves look easy, Backstrom did that as well. Richards was right. He was the difference, and he has been the difference in the vast majority of games the Wild has won this year.
Here’s an eye-popping stat, and not necessarily a good one, but coming into the night, the Wild hadn’t scored a power play goal at home since November 2. That’s a string of 27 power plays without a goal at home. And then, in a flash, that streak came to a resounding end when Martin Havlat, once again, decided to take over.
Getting the puck against the boards in the corner, Havlat looked in front of him and must have thought, “The goal is there, I’m here. I’ve got the puck and I’m bringing it over there.” Seemingly ignoring Jay Bouwmeester right in front of him, Havlat went right to the net, neatly tucked one past Miikka Kiprusoff
and regained the Wild scoring lead with a huge game-winning goal.
John Madden then made the Wild two for their last two power plays by banking one in off Kiprusoff. Madden has played 821 NHL games, and his goal tonight was his seventh career goal with the man advantage. His last power play goal was 232 games ago on December 16, 2007 as a member of the New Jersey Devils.
Nick Schultz was out with what is thought to be a concussion. Cam Barker was scratched. That means the Wild had three “regulars” on defense in Brent Burns, Greg Zanon and Marek Zidlicky and three “youngsters” in Clayton Stoner
, Jared Spurgeon
and Marco Scandella
, who was called up from Houston today. As much as I’d like to, we can’t give all the credit to Backstrom. These guys were impressive. Clayton Stoner
, who had barely played the last month, logged 18:54 of ice time and was a +1. But I was really impressed with Scandella, who was great at both ends of the rink. He looked extremely talented on the Wild’s first goal when he seemed to be in sync with Havlat on a rush and then alertly fired a shot on goal with Kyle Brodziak
standing all alone to rap in the rebound.