Post-game notes are below. I'm going home to pack for two nights in New York. More tomorrowevening from Manhattan.
G Niklas Backstrom
made 31 saves for his franchise record 16th career shutout and RW Owen Nolan scored two goals, as the Minnesota Wild blanked the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 in front of 18,568 at Xcel Energy Center. LW Stephane Veilleux
also scored for the Wild, which shut out an Edmonton team that had scored 13 goals in its last two games. Minnesota moved to 76 points – one fewer than eighth-place Nashville, and three behind the seventh-place Oilers.
The Wild has won 10 straight home games against Edmonton, outscoring the Oilers 36-11 in that span. That is tied for the longest active home win streak against an opponent in the NHL (Dallas against Minnesota; Nashville vs. Columbus). Minnesota has trailed in just two of the 10 games since Edmonton’s last win at Xcel Energy Center, a 2-1 decision Jan. 16, 2007. All but two of the victories have been by two or more goals.
G Niklas Backstrom
made 31 saves for his 16th career shutout overall and 12th at Xcel Energy Center – both new team records. Oilers G Dwayne Roloson held the old marks of 15 and 11. Backstrom improved to 10-0-0 with a 1.09 GAA and a .957 SV% in 10 career home starts against Edmonton. It marked his fourth shutout over the Oilers – all at home – his most shutouts against any opponent. Backstrom has just four regulation losses in 33 home starts (22-4-7) against the Northwest Division, with a 1.69 GAA and a .935 SV%, allowing two goals or fewer 26 times. Backstrom is 32-21-7 overall this season, one off his own club record for victories. Backstrom, who allowed three goals on 11 shots in New Jersey on Friday, improved to 12-2-4 with a 1.94 GAA and a .931 SV% in his career in a game after getting pulled, including a 8-0-1 mark, a 1.52 GAA and a .949 SV% in the last nine instances.
RW Owen Nolan scored his team-leading 21st and 22nd goals of the season, and his first in six games since recording his 400th and 401st NHL goals March 10 against San Jose. Nolan is tied for the team lead with 10 power-play goals. The Wild is 10-5-2 this season when Nolan scores a goal, and 16-6-2 when he has at least one point.
RW Marian Gaborik returned from a 38-game absence after having hip surgery. He played for the first time since Dec. 23, and skated in his seventh game out of 72 this season. Gaborik registered six shots in 17:43 TOI. The Wild is 234-180-88 all-time with Gaborik in the lineup, and 53-72-19 without him. Since 2005-06, Minnesota is 112-62-23 with Gaborik in the lineup, and 51-62-11 without him.
Rookie RW Cal Clutterbuck
recorded five hits, increasing his NHL-leading total to 302. The NHL record is 311, set last season by Los Angeles’ Dustin Brown.
RW Owen Nolan’s power-play goal was the Wild’s first home power-play goal since Feb. 21 against Detroit. Counting its first two chances today, the Wild was 0-for-12 in four games since then.
The Wild’s 23 shots in the second period were a team record for shots in a period, after registering just two shots in the first period. The Wild had 22 shots in the second period at Montreal on Nov. 22, 2006. The home record was 18 shots, set Jan. 10, 2003, in the second period against Phoenix
C Mikko Koivu
left the game with a knee injury after the second period.
Underway in a huge third period for the Wild. A win moves them within a point of eighth-place Nashville.
A magnificent goal by Nolan, who cut from behind the net to redirect a James Sheppard feet into the net. Sheppard, out of the corner, is playing one of his best games . Nolan caused a turnover behind the net, executed a perfect give-and-go with Sheppard, shedding a defender and curling around the far side. Kim Johnsson with the second assist. A big goal to make this thing 2-0.
hasn't taken a shift this period. According to assistant GM Tom Lynn, he injured his knee, and won't return.
Kim Johnsson goes for cross-checking, so the Oilers get a chance to get on the board.
Nolan darn near got the Wild's first hat trick of the season, as Bouchard set him up perfectly. But a nice save by Roloson.
Gaborik almost gets on the board, but for an armpit save by Roloson.
When it's going right, it's going right. Stephane Veilleux gets credit for his career-high 13th goal when a Tom Gilbert clearing attempt banks off a fellow Oiler and into the net for a 3-0 lead.
Special treat - ice cream in the press box tonight. I put it down briefly to type this. Underway in the second.
Gaborik gets his first scoring chance, but Roloson collects his shot from the left circle.
On the ensuing faceoff, Marc-Andre Bergeron gets the puck through Roloson's legs, but Tom Gilbert
swats the puck out of the way.
You can't say Kurtis Foster
is playing timid. He just leveled Oilers captain Ethan Moreau into the boards. Moreau went to the bench very slowly and is still sitting with his head down.
Eric Belanger hits the post from the right circle. Much more energetic start to the second for the Wild.
Gaborik doesn't score a goal, but he draws a penalty because he's in scoring position. Trying to poke a James Sheppard rebound in, Ales Hemsky holds Gaborik, setting up the Wild's first power play. Gaborik is on the ice with Koivu and Brunette up front.
And a 5-on-3 for the next 1:27 for the Wild, as Sheldon Souray is called for slashing. Jacques Lemaire calls a timeout to rest his top line. Foster and Bergeron on the point.
The Wild plays the puck with a high stick, and the faceoff will come all the way back in front of Niklas Backstrom
Two shots for the Wild, neither of which were likely classified as scoring chances. Many times you'll see momentum shift after a big 5-on-3 kill like that. Let's hope not.
Red-hot Stephane Veilleux
lets loose from the left circle, but Roloson makes a kick save.
Andrew Brunette just headed down the runway.
Bruno is back. Must have been nothing.
Steve Staois knocks Marian Gaborik from behind and will go for cross checking. Wild gets its third power play of the period. MInnesota's last home power play goal came Feb. 21. Of course, there have been just three home games since then before today.
And Owen Nolan makes it 1-0 Wild with a big power play goal, his team-best 21st goal of the season. Bouchard's point blast got knocked down in front, and Nolan and Dan Fritsche were both all over the puck. Both got a piece of it, with Nolan blasting it into the net after Fritsche touched it.
The Wild had two shots in the opening period. Thus far, it has 21 this period. That's a new home record, and just two off the team record, set Nov. 22, 2006, at Montreal.
After Nolan went off for a penalty, he nearly scored breaking out of the box. Roloson made the save, and then swattedaway Clutterbuck's rebound as well.
A great save by Backstrom on a Patrick O'Sullivan backhander. 1-0 or not, this has been a fantastic second period.
End 2nd period
The Wild can't convert a 3-on-1 in the waning seconds, with Antti Miettinen shooting just wide. The Wild, which had two shots in the first period, sets a franchise-record with 23 shots in the second. Twenty more minutes to hang on for a big regulation win here.
Olvecky is the other Wild forward scratch (see below for rest of scratches). It's Niklas Backstrom
versus Dwayne Roloson in net. Wild starters are Johnsson, Schultz, Gaborik, Koivu and Miettinen. Oilers starters are Staios, Souray, Hemsky, O'Sullivan and Horcoff. Today's Let's Play Hockey is 2009 Mr. Hockey Nick Leddy and Ms. Hockey Becky Kortum.
Gaborik got a huge ovation in introductions. We're underway.
Jean-Francois Jacques gets loose in front of Backstrom, who makes a great save.
A huge hit by Derek Boogaard on Steve MacIntyre, who evens it up on the other end with a hit.
The post is kind to the Wild, as Patrick O'Sullivan's deflection near an empty net hits the right pipe. Backstrom was there to cover the rebound.
Another hit, this one by Cal Clutterbuck
on Ladislav Smid. Definitely playoff atmosphere so far.
The Oilers get the game's first power play, as Marc-Andre Bergeron goes for interference.
Backstrom is keeping the Wild in this early, robbing Horcoff and Hemsky on back-to-back power play shots.
What a shorthanded chance for the Wild, as Clutterbuck steals the puck and goes in 2-on-0 with Veilleux, whose shot hits the outside of the net. Clutterbuck sent the wraparound rebound attempt through the crease but no one was there.
Another penalty to the Wild, as Mikko Koivu
goes for interference. Sure looked like Tom Gilbert
just tripped over his own two feet.
Koivu is tripped up coming out of the box, on a potential 2-on-1, and amazingly there's no call. The team of 18,000 is loud and not happy about it. Koivu is shaken up and heads down the runway towards the locker room.
After a TV timeout and a few seconds, Koivu is back on the bench. The Wild, shorthanded twice already, is getting outshot 10-1. I believe that one shot was Veilleux's attempt on the 2-on-0, which I thought hit the outside of the net. Roloson may have gotten a piece of it.
Marian Gaborik takes a headman pass but has the puck stripped, with a 1-on-1 ahead of him.
And we have more booing. Dan Fritsche with a perfectly legal hit on Ladislav Smid. Perhaps this was because Derek Boogaard was standing in the vicinity? Fritsche goes for boarding. No penalty on Steve MacIntyre took a run at Boogaard after the whistle. No call. Upon further review, I'm not sure Fritsche even hit Smid, it looks like he went into the wall all by himself. Power plays are 3-0 Oilers, and shots are 14-1.
walks out from behind the net and puts a backhander on Roloson, as the Wild records its second shot of the game.
End 1st period
The teams head to the locker room scoreless. Great period by Niklas Backstrom
, as Edmonton outshoots Minnesota 15-2.
Saturday, 1:30 p.m. CDT
Greetings from seat 51 in the Al Shaver Press Box, where we are watching Marian Gaborik warm up for his first game action since Dec. 23. Out of the lineup, however, for the Wild is Marek Zidlicky, so both Kurtis Foster
and John Scott will play. Craig Weller and Brent Burns (concussion like symptoms) are also out. It remains to be seen the final Wild scratch, which will be another forward.
Just ate a wonderful pre-game meals with Tim and Amy Dorway. Tim is my contact with the Minnesota High School Press Association. Today, the winners from last month's media day are in the press box to watch the game. Tim was impressed with the meal. We were all impressed with Robert the Intern Desimone, who has never met a meal he doesn't like, particularly when steak, eggs and other meat are on the menu.
Off to set up some post-game notes. Be back at gametime. Wild.com's Jamie MacDonald and I are also planning our dinner tomorrow night in Manhattan.