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

Wednesday night.

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

big.

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

speculate.”

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

game.