Backstrom's relief effort sparks Wild in shootout win

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 31, 2013 - 6:40 AM

The Wild got goal support beyond its first line, and goalie Niklas Backstrom was spotless after starter Josh Harding was yanked less than seven minutes into the game.

The second and third lines finally joined the party.

After six games of relying on the first line to provide all the offense, the Wild got goal support from players not named Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley on Wednesday night.

But in the end, it was goalie Niklas Backstrom, in relief of a rocky Josh Harding, who had to be spotless as the dead-legged Wild gutted out two points in a 3-2 shootout victory over previously unbeaten Chicago.

"We ran out of gas a little bit and gave them a chance to come at us, but [Backstrom] was huge," said Cal Clutterbuck, who like Matt Cullen scored his first goal of the season.

The Wild (4-2-1) lost its legs the final two periods. Coach Mike Yeo felt it was a product of playing the night before and overextending shifts in the second period.

But while the Wild only registered six shots in the final 40 minutes of regulation, Backstrom made 19 of his 28 saves during that span. As much as scoring was a relief for Cullen and Clutterbuck, so was playing so soundly for Backstrom.

"Pucks are going to bounce the right way sometimes, the wrong way other times," said Backstrom, who is 3-1-1 but entered with a 2.98 goals-against average and an .887 save percentage. "You have to stick with it and believe in yourself. If you do the work every day, the game is going to be there. Sooner or later, you're going to play at your level."

Parise scored his 30th career shootout goal and Cullen his 20th as the Wild picked up points for the third consecutive game (2-0-1), swept back-to-back home games and ended the Blackhawks' six-game win streak to start the season.

"We have high expectations for this team, and there's a difference between expectations and results," Cullen said. "Games like this is how you build confidence and start getting that belief that you can be a good team."

Cullen's output was almost predictable. He hadn't scored in the first six games. Wednesday morning, he relayed something Swedish coach Rolf Nilsson -- who coached him in Cortina, Italy -- told him during the 2004-05 lockout: "It's just like a ketchup bottle. You keep squeezing and squeezing and once it finally comes out, it all comes out."

Cullen scored 90 seconds in off Mikael Granlund's rebound.

But Harding was fighting the puck. He looked surprised by a Marian Hossa 55-footer, then was saved by the crossbar on a bad-angle Patrick Sharp shot.

Andrew Shaw tied the score 1-1. Only 91 seconds later, Harding was pulled after giving up a goal on a bad-angle shot from Jonathan Toews -- the fourth puck he saw.

"It's not a decision I'm sitting here feeling good about," Yeo said. "I've never done that -- pulled a goalie after two goals. I just felt it was what we needed."

The Wild gained a golden opportunity to tie the score late in the first when Viktor Stalberg tripped Backstrom and Michael Frolik boarded Granlund. That gave the Wild a 5-on-3 for 1:23, but the Wild registered two shots.

But the Wild tied the score 2-2 only 59 seconds into the second. After the third line nearly scored prior to a faceoff, Clutterbuck niftily redirected Tom Gilbert's shot.

"A lot of weight lifted off your shoulders when you see it go in like that," Clutterbuck said. "We're going to need [secondary scoring] if we're going to be a successful team."

  • WILD 3, CHICAGO 2 (SO)

    Up next: 9 p.m. Friday at Anaheim • TV: FSN (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Minnesota 94 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Houston 93 FINAL
Boston 87
Portland 99 FINAL
Atlanta 105
Sacramento 90 FINAL
Cleveland 101
Toronto 127 FINAL
Brooklyn 122
Dallas 93 FINAL
Miami 72
LA Clippers 103 FINAL
New Orleans 108
Golden State 100 FINAL
Utah 110
Chicago 93 FINAL
Phoenix 99
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Nashville 0 FINAL
Colorado 3
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Vancouver 5
Chicago 4 FINAL
Anaheim 1
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 57 FINAL
Canisius 63
Brown 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Siena 79 FINAL
Manhattan 87
Marist 65 FINAL
Niagara 61
Dartmouth 51 FINAL
Penn 58
Oregon 68 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Yale 63 FINAL
Columbia 59
Monmouth 60 FINAL
Fairfield 59
IUPUI 59 FINAL
Western Ill 63
Oregon State 34 FINAL
Arizona 57
Kent State 55 FINAL
Buffalo 80
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 67 FINAL
Providence 59
Cornell 65 FINAL
Brown 52
Columbia 47 FINAL
Yale 55
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
Drexel 64
Penn 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 39
Elon 60 FINAL
James Madison 89
(19) Princeton 96 FINAL
Harvard 46
(9) Florida State 82 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Siena 62
Richmond 54 FINAL
Rhode Island 50
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Southern Ill 64
Georgetown 52 FINAL
DePaul 93
Villanova 75 FINAL
Marquette 59
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
Xavier 65 FINAL
Creighton 74
Bradley 58 FINAL
Illinois State 55
Missouri State 89 FINAL
Drake 94
Arizona 48 FINAL
Utah 62
(11) Arizona State 68 FINAL
Colorado 60

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How should Timberwolves fans greet Kevin Love on Saturday?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close