Wild 1, Avalanche 0
The Minnesota Wild got just enough offense and great goaltending
to keep up their mastery of the Colorado Avalanche.
Niklas Backstrom made 23 saves for his first shutout of the
season, Antti Miettinen scored, and the Wild beat Colorado 1-0 on
Minnesota, which has won seven of nine, has not lost to Colorado
in four games this season, including two shootout wins. Backstrom
has three of those wins.
“It’s seems to be a one-goal game every time we play against
them,” said Backstrom, who notched his 18th NHL shutout.
Peter Budaj had 21 saves for Colorado, which has lost three
straight at home but only one in regulation.
The Wild scored the only goal they needed 5:57 in when Miettinen
pounced on Andrew Brunette’s rebound for his eighth goal.
“It kind of bounced right on my tape there,” said Miettinen,
who has seven goals and nine points in his last eight games.
Minnesota didn’t think the early goal was going to stand up, but
the Avalanche, coming off a 3-1-1 road trip, couldn’t generate much
offense. They had only 13 shots in the final 40 minutes and 23
overall despite having six power-play opportunities.
“We have to be better on the power play,” Avalanche coach Joe
Sacco said. “We’ll continue to work on it and we’ll get better at
it. It was probably the difference in the game.”
That and the play of Backstrom. He wasn’t asked to do much, but
when Colorado turned up the pressure in the third period he came up
Marek Svatos had two good chances in the first 6 minutes, and
then had another chance on a breakaway with 7:20 left, but
Backstrom made the saves.
“The offense is there but we can’t rely on scoring four goals
every night,” Backstrom said. “Sometimes you have to find a way
to win and battle through the defense.”
The Avalanche had several chances to tie it in the first, but
they couldn’t capitalize on three power-play opportunities.
“We took a lot of penalties, we spent a lot of time in the box,
but our penalty killers did a great job,” Minnesota coach Todd
Richards said “Your goalie has to be your best penalty killer, and
he was very good tonight. Nik made some big, big saves for us when
we needed him to.”
Colorado thought it got even when Matt Duchene beat Backstrom
with 14:37 left in the second, but Avalanche forward T.J. Galiardi
and Minnesota winger Martin Havlat battled near the net. The
officials ruled the net was off its moorings when the puck crossed
the line. The call was confirmed by video review.
“It was going in, obviously, and it ended up going in,”
Galiardi said. “But I think the net was off before it went in. I
don’t know if they pushed it off or what happened. I can only
Sacco thought the Wild dislodged the net but said the goal
probably would not have counted.
“The ref said our player kicked the puck in. It was a kicking
motion, so It probably would have been nullified anyway,” he said.
“That wasn’t the difference in the game.”
NOTES: The Wild are 12-1-2 in their last 15 regular-season games
against the Avalanche. … Colorado G Craig Anderson missed his
fourth straight game because of a neck injury sustained at Florida
on Dec. 2. … The Avalanche were 0 for 6 on the power play. It was
the second time in nine games they failed to score a power-play
goal. … Avalanche C Justin Mercier played in his first NHL