Some road spark: Wild beats Calgary 3-1
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With the cold weather and the holiday crowds and the Metrodome in tatters, what self-respecting Minnesotan wouldn't want to get out of town for a day or two.
That was apparently the prescription the Minnesota Wild needed. After a lifeless loss at home earlier in the week, a quick trip to western Canada did the trick, as the Wild got back in the win column on Saturday, beating the Calgary Flames 3-1.
Searching high and low for an offensive star these days, captain Mikko Koivu played the role on Saturday, scoring one goal and assisting on the two others for his first three-point game in more than two months.
The road domination stood in stark contrast to the Wild's recent play at home. Once, Xcel Energy Center was a place opponents dreaded, but the Wild have now lost three in a row at home, while winning three of the last four on the road.
The day started like it would not be a good one for Wild coach Todd Richards, who was battling an illness, and did not skate with the team in the morning, opting instead to speak briefly to the media, then return to his hotel room for some rest. Richards was behind the bench for the game, and sported a nice smile when the Northwest Division win was complete.
"Mikko was tremendous in the game. He was great," said Richards. "He stepped up and the rest of the team followed."
Although, for the first 35 minutes or so, it looked like another lifeless effort by both teams. There were less than five minutes left in the second period before the Wild recorded its second shot on goal of the stanza, but the period ended with the Wild up 2-0 on goals by Antti Miettinen and Koivu. Chuck Kobasew, who started his NHL career in Calgary, got the Wild's third goal.
The Wild managed just 16 shots for the game, which is usually nowhere near enough to defeat Calgary goalie Mikka Kiprusoff, but on this night it did the trick. In the other net, Niklas Backstrom got the win for the Wild with 28 saves.
If the Flames have revenge in mind, or at least are aiming to get back those two division points that slipped away, they won't have to wait long. The Flames visit St. Paul on Monday night when, despite what other Minnesota teams are doing, the Wild will indeed be playing indoors.