The Minnesota Wild may be among the best teams in the Western
Conference, but they’d like to start making things a bit easier for
They usually have an easy time of it against the last-place
After losing for the first time in six games, the Wild look to
re-establish their momentum by continuing their dominance of the
visiting Flames on Sunday.
Minnesota (13-6-3) is unexpectedly in first place in the
Northwest Division, thanks in part to an 8-3-1 home record.
However, the Wild had their six-game home winning streak halted
Friday when they fell 5-2 to Edmonton. Minnesota allowed the first
two goals of the game, and has been outscored 6-1 in its last five
“Certainly we have been playing with fire, spotting teams the
lead lately,” coach Mike Yeo said. “There have been a lot of nice
stories about us coming back and keeping with our game, but that’s
something we have to definitely be better at.”
Facing Calgary (8-12-1) may be just what the Wild need.
Minnesota is 11-2-1 in the last 14 matchups of this division
rivalry, winning the last four by a combined 16-2. The Wild won 3-0
at Calgary on Nov. 8 behind 41 saves from Niklas Backstrom.
Backstrom is 9-1-1 with a 1.02 goals-against average and four
shutouts in his last 12 meetings with the Flames. He’s shut them
out the last two times he’s faced them while stopping 78 shots.
Backstrom, who rested Friday in favor of backup Josh Harding,
has also won three starts in a row with a 1.33 GAA and a
Mikko Koivu, who leads Minnesota with 16 points, has two goals
and four assists in his last four games. The center set up a goal
by Dany Heatley against the Flames earlier this month.
While the Wild are trying to prove they belong among the top
teams in the conference, the Flames are mired at the bottom of the
Northwest and trying to salvage one victory in the finale of their
four-game road trip.
Calgary hasn’t dropped four in a row since Oct. 28-Nov. 5, 2010,
its longest slide of last season.
The Flames got within a loss of equaling that dubious feat with
Friday’s 2-0 defeat at St. Louis.
“The positives are we played a hard game,” Calgary coach Brent
Sutter said. “We played hard, we had opportunities to capitalize.
You’ve got to build off those things. You can’t sit around and
dwell on them.
“You can’t dwell on the negatives. No one’s feeling sorry for us
so we certainly can’t. We have to stay together as a group and keep
pushing ahead and keep that attitude where it needs to be and we
will get through it.”
Curtis Glencross leads Calgary with seven goals, but has no
points on the road trip. He also doesn’t have a point in eight
career visits to Xcel Energy Center.