A very entertaining Jacques Lemaire presser tonight - it's always more fun when you win, right? Check it out later tonight on Wild.TV. Me, I'm off to pack for the quick one-night trip to Detroit. I'll be back from Joe Louis Arena Saturday afternoon. The Wild skate at 2:30 EDT in Detroit. Post-game notes are below.
G Niklas Backstrom
made 27 saves for his eighth shutout of the season and 17th of his career, and LW Andrew Brunette and RW Cal Clutterbuck
scored 29 seconds apart in a three-goal first period, as the Minnesota Wild routed the Calgary Flames 4-0 in front of 18,568 at Xcel Energy Center. RW Owen Nolan added his team-leading 24th goal of the season and RW Marian Gaborik also scored for Minnesota, which got one point from 12 different players. The Wild has a point in each of its last eight home games (4-0-4), and in three games in a row overall (2-0-1). The Wild plays at Detroit on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. (CDT) in a nationally televised game on NBC. Minnesota has 83 points – two points behind eighth-place St. Louis. Ninth-place Nashville (84 points) is playing in Chicago tonight.
G Niklas Backstrom
made 27 saves for his team record eighth shutout of the season – trailing only Columbus rookie G Steve Mason (10) for most in the NHL. It was his 17th career shutout and 13th shutout at Xcel Energy Center – both team records. Backstrom has just four regulation losses in 35 home starts (23-4-8) against the Northwest Division, with a 1.60 GAA and a .937 SV%, allowing two goals or fewer 28 times. Backstrom started his team-record 17th straight game and snapped a personal four-game winless skid (0-2-2) against the Flames.
RW Marian Gaborik scored his ninth goal in 13 games this season, and his sixth goal and ninth point in six games since returning from a 38-game absence. He has a goal in three straight games. The Wild is 8-3-2 with Gaborik in the lineup this season. Since 2005-06, Minnesota is 115-64-24 with Gaborik in the lineup and 51-62-12 without him. Since 2005-06, Minnesota is 66-14-0 when Gaborik scores a goal, including a 26-1-5 mark since Nov. 24, 2007.
LW Andrew Brunette extended his point streak to five games with a goal. He has seven points (4-3=7) in that span. Brunette is the Wild's second-leading scorer with 47 points (21-26=47). Brunette’s last five-game point streak was Feb. 27-March 8, 2008.
RW Cal Clutterbuck
snapped a 30-game goal-less drought dating back to Jan. 27 against Toronto. Clutterbuck had five hits, extending his NHL-record total to 338.
RW Owen Nolan scored his 24th goal of the season. Only three players in team history have scored 25 in a season. Marian Gaborik has done it five times, and Brian Rolston scored 25 on three occasions, while Pavol Demitra scored 25 in 2006-07. Nolan has eight points (4-4=8) in the last seven games to give him 850 points (404-446=850) in 1,123 career NHL games.
D Marek Zidlicky established a new team record for assists by a defenseman with his 29th. His 40 points (11-29=40) are three off D Brent Burns’ team record (15-28=43) for points by a defenseman, set last season.
The Wild improved to 4-0-1 in regular season games in April in the last three seasons.
Minnesota won for the second time in the last 12 games versus Calgary (2-7-3). The Wild avoided a season sweep (1-3-2) and recorded its largest ever winning margin against the Flames. Minnesota had earned three-goal wins on four occasions.
The Wild tied a season-high with three first-period goals. The other time was Feb. 14 against Ottawa, a game the Senators scored the final five goals for a 5-3win.
Flames G Miikka Kiprusoff fell to 24-7-3 against the Wild. His 24 wins are 11 more than any other goalie has against Minnesota. He is 10-2-0 in the last 12 meetings with the Wild.
Minnesota scored two even strength goals, improving to 26-8-2 when it scores at least two.
Back underway in the third.
Not much action thus far. Daymond Langkow goes for high-sticking, setting up the Wild's fourth power play (1-for-3).
The Flames have just one shot in the third period. This coming a game after the Wild didn't allow a third period shot against Vancouver on Tuesday.
Chicago has a 2-1 lead over Nashville after two periods.
Gaborik, leaning backwards in the left circle, with a low shot that skids by Kiprusoff, who has had better nights. It's Gaborik's third goal in as many games, and his sixth in six games. Sheppard and Martin Skoula with the assists. It's 4-0 Wild.
Dan Fritsche goes for delay of game (closing his hand on the puck). The Flames get one final chance to solve Backstrom. Minnesota has never defeated the Flames by four goals.
Another early period power play for the WIld, as John Negrin goes for holding.
David Moss broke in shorthanded on Backstrom after a Sheppard turnover at the blueline, but a backchecking Kurtis Foster
prevented a good shot.
A scary moment for the Wild. John Scott pushed a Flames player onto the net, which nudged Niklas Backstrom
. Trainer Don Fuller attended to Backstrom, who appeared to get some ice in his eye. Speculating. But Fuller had a towel, and Backstrom had his helmet up. REPLAY UPDATE: Johnsson's stick went through Backstrom's mask. He's fine and stayed in the game.
Andrew Brunette goes for high-sticking, setting up a Flames power play. Calgary is 0-for-1 thus far.
Kipper has been more sharp this period, including a stop on a Marc-Andre Bergeron right circle bomb there.
What a move by Mikko Koivu
, who toe-drags twice, then flips a shot off the outside of the near post. Koivu made that look easy, and trust me, it's not.6:34
Bit of a bad break here for theWild. Martin Skoula get pushed by Olli Jokinen in the crease. The pair battles for a second, Jokinen keeps pushing, takes a stick a bit high from Skoula, who is the only one going to the box. Referee Mike Leggo is getting an earfull from Jacques Lemaire, and fellow referee Rob Martell was getting an earful from Mikko Koivu
. Leggo then comes in and says Koivu must leave the faceoff circle. Wild win the faceoff anyways.
A late power play for Calgary, as Kim Johnsson skates to the box for tripping.
End 2nd period
Not a flashy second period by the Wild, but a good one with a three-goal lead. We are closely monitoring tonight's other game of interest. Nashville and Chicago are tied 1-1 early in the second. Go Blackhawks.
It's Backstrom, Johnsson and Schultz for the Wild, with Miettinen, Belanger and Clutterbuck up front. They'll check the Flames' top line of Bertuzzi, Jokinen and Iginla. Phaneuf and Leopold are on the blueline. Get used to seeing plenty of those five tonight. The Flames will indeed dress 16 skaters - two under the NHL maximum. Among them are rookies Matt Pelech and John Negrin, who will both make their NHL debuts.
Tonight's Let's Play Hockey was done by Gophers hockey equipment manager Harry Broadfoot, who retired after this season.
Owen Nolan deflects a shot just wide of the net. It looks like it may have been a high stick, but the linesman was waving off the high stick.
Todd Bertuzzi with a good chance from the left circle. Backstrom juggled the save for a second, but covered up.
lines up at wing for his first shift of the night. He played some wing in practice this week.
An early power play for the Wild, as Daymong Langkow goes for tripping. The Wild's power play has struggled - even in practice - we'll see how the first one goes tonight.
Andrew Brunette's 21st of the season makes it 1-0 Wild, on the power play. He deflects Marek Zidlicky's left point blast by Kiprusoff. Marc-Andre Bergeron with the second assist.
Clutterbuck makes it 2-0 by throwing a puck from along the left wing boards. And that's it for Kiprusoff. In comes Curtis McElhinney, who becomes the first Flames goalie to see action against the Wild since Jamie McLennan on 11/7/03. Eric Belanger and Nick Schultz with the assists.
But McElhinney will see just 12 seconds of action. Kiprusoff is back in. The equivalent of a timeout taken by Iron Mike Keenan.
And the Wild is right back on the power play, ater a dangerous cross check by Curtis Glencross. We finally hit the 14-minute TV timeout in this rapidly moving and entertaining first period.
One of the prettiest passing plays you'll ever seen, capped off by Marek Zidlicky to Owen Nolan, who hit the near post.
The Wild had several whacks at a loose puck in the crease. Antti Miettinen hit Mikko Koivu
's skate, and Kiprusoff lives to fight the rest of the power play.
Gaborik nearly makes it 3-0, skating through three defenders, faking a wraparound and instead trying to bank a shot off Kiprusoff's pads. Kipper wound up with the puck under him.
This isn't going to make Keenan any happier. Owen Nolan fires a slapper from the right circle that squeezes through Kipper for his team-leading 24th goal of the season. Miettinen and Veilleux with the assists. It's 3-0 Wild.
A slashing call to Kurtis Foster
, and the Flames get a chance to get some momentum late in the period.
End 1st period
A terrific opening stanza for the Wild, which gets an ovation coming off the ice. The key is to keep it coming. Minnesota had one other three-goal first period this season, Feb. 14 against Ottawa. The Senators scored the game's final five for a 5-3 win.
Not much new from below. Craig Weller, Krys Kolanos, Kurtis Foster
and John Scott all warmed up. Three of the four will play. I believe Jacques Lemaire will go with seven defensemen. UPDATE : Kolanos is out. Brent Burns (concussion), Derek Boogaard (upper body), Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) and Colton Gillies and Peter Olvecky (both healthy) are also out of the lineup.
Two new additions to Calgary's lineup - rookie defensemen John Negrin and Matt Pelech, just called up from Quad Cities of the AHL. Dustin Boyd and Warren Peters
were sent down today to QC to make room under the salary cap for those two. Rumor has it the Flames may be skating a man or two short tonight of the 18-skater limit.
Friday, 12 p.m. CDT
The Wild held an optional skate this morning in advance of tonight’s tilt with the Flames. Among those “taking their option” and not skating were Marek Zidlicky, Stephane Veilleux
, Kim Johnsson, Owen Nolan, Marian Gaborik and Andrew Brunette.
Jacques Lemaire said it would be “pretty much” the same lineup tonight. He did say he was toying with the idea of playing seven defensemen, as he did last week against the Flames. In that case, Kurtis Foster
would be in, likely for either Craig Weller or Krys Kolanos.
The Flames won 2-1 last night, but lost a couple guys in the process. Calgary is expected to be without defensemen Cory Sarich, Robin Regehr and Adrian Aucoin tonight. The Flames are tied for the top spot in the Northwest Division with Vancouver, so they have plenty to play for.
I’m getting ready for my last regular season road trip of the season, to Detroit. We’ll leave at 11 a.m. Saturday, and skate at Joe Louis Arena in the afternoon. The game is at 11:30 a.m. CDT Sunday and on NBC, which will be at our practice on Saturday to talk to some guys. We’re pretty happy about the early game, not just because of the exposure, but we’ll also be home before 5 o'clock Sunday. It will be nice to land when it’s still light out.
Drum roll please…tonight’s press meal is below:
Chicken Tortilla soup
Chicken And Beef Fajitas