Back to 'Backs': Wild blows out Calgary in goalie's return
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The Minnesota Wild found a perfect way to celebrate Niklas Backstom's return to the crease, scoring enough goals to overshadow his shutout with a blowout.
Backstrom, playing for the first time in 2011 after missing the first half of the month with hip trouble, stopped 37 shots in blanking the Calgary Flames 6-0. It was the most lopsided road win not just of this season but in team history.
"We've been getting great goaltending and a good penalty kill, and we've been able to bury our chances," forward John Madden told Mike Greenlay of Channel 45. Madden had a goal and an assist. "The biggest part is scoring goals in this league, and we've got some hot sticks."
That's a bit of an understatement, after the Wild has out scored Northwest Division foes Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary 14-1 in its current three-game win streak. And it underscores just how thoroughly things have changed for the Wild. Trips to western Canada used to be disastrous, as the team went seemingly years without being able to muster a win in Calgary. After Wednesday's blowout, the Wild is now 5-1-0 in its last six trips to the Saddledome, and has pulled back to within a point of the final Western Conference playoff spot.
The lack of drama started early as the Wild jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead, finding a mysterious reserve of jump despite playing the second night of a back-to-back. By the time it was done, Cal Clutterbuck had re-taken the team lead in goals with his 14th of the season (a career high) and Martin Havlat scored twice, giving him 200 goals in his NHL career (and 13 for the season, just behind Clutterbuck on the team).
Now 7-1-1 in its last nine road games, the Wild has a few days off to enjoy northern California (where it will not by -17 overnight) before visiting the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.