Dallas Stars right wing Michael Ryder's (73) shoot on goal is deflected by Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012.
Lm Otero, Associated Press
DALLAS 2, WILD 1 (SO)
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Wild falls in shootout after rally to force OT
- Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO
- Star Tribune
- February 5, 2012 - 10:09 AM
DALLAS - It was Mike Yeo's first trip to Dallas as Wild coach, but he had a grand idea as to how to end the Wild's slump inside the house of horrors that is American Airlines Center.
"This afternoon, we're looking for a live chicken, getting a few candles, some incense," Yeo said earlier Saturday.
The sacrifice didn't work, but from now on, maybe the Wild should try it before shootouts.
Despite a strong 60-minute effort, especially considering the venue and despite a second-consecutive outstanding performance by Niklas Backstrom, the Wild lost for the fifth time in six shootouts Saturday night when the Stars took a 2-1 victory.
Dating to March 21, 2003, the loss stretched the NHL's longest current winless streak in one building to 15 games (0-10-5).
But, said Dany Heatley, who had eight of the Wild's 34 shots, "We had a lot of zone time in their end, created a lot of turnovers and generated a lot of chances. To get one point is big, but we felt we deserved two."
The Wild didn't get that second point when Backstrom was beaten by both shooters he faced -- ultra-talented forwards Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn. Matt Cullen scored for the Wild, but newly-acquired shootout specialist Erik Christensen and Jared Spurgeon missed.
Backstrom has lasted six years in Minnesota because of impressive consistency. Unfortunately, that trickles into the shootout, where he's consistently bad.
He is 15-28 and has the NHL's worst all-time save percentage (.563). This year, he is 3-4, having given up 12 goals on 22 shots (.450).
"He's a good goalie, so we've got to find a way to make him better, whether it's what we do in practice, whether it's what we do to help him technically, we have to find a way to give him the best chance out there," Yeo said.
Here's the thing: Jacques Lemaire and Todd Richards used to say the same thing. With the Wild clinging to eighth place, would Yeo consider throwing in ice-cold Josh Harding, who is 7-6 in shootouts with a .690 save percentage?
"The one thing with that, Backy is playing so well right now," Yeo said. "I don't want to do anything to jeopardize that. But we're going to consider anything at this point."
Backstrom made 25 saves through overtime, so the shootout was disappointing to lose.
"On the other hand, they could have scored two goals and we could have had zero points. Now we got one," Backstrom said.
It's a shame the Wild, 3-1-1 in its past five, didn't taste victory because, other than a lousy 0-for-4 power play, it controlled play, especially 5-on-5. Dallas had four shots in the third period.
"Everyone's happy the way the game went," center Kyle Brodziak said. "We played pretty much a good full 60-minute game. We had a lot of looks, a lot of good chances, didn't spend a whole lot of time in our end."
For the fifth game in a row, Heatley-Brodziak-Nick Johnson created oodles of chances, so many that Yeo is considering keeping the line intact when Mikko Koivu returns (maybe Tuesday in Columbus) from a shoulder injury.
Johnson and Heatley created Brodziak's breakaway late in the second period. Kari Lehtonen stopped that backhand try. But early in the third, Johnson forced a turnover and Brodziak was money. He scored his 15th goal to extend his point streak to a career-long six games.
"I'm real happy with the way our game is going," Yeo said. "It gives you a lot of reason for optimism.
"Guys are on the same page, guys are committed, guys are focused and because of that," he said, "we're giving ourselves a great chance every night."
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