Saturday: In a record victory, the Wild whips a longtime nemesis

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 18, 2007 - 5:50 PM

In a game that had all the intensity of the playoffs, the Wild ended a long drought in Calgary.

CALGARY, ALBERTA - The Wild has finally conquered Calgary.

Winless in Southern Alberta since before the lockout, the supremely confident, absolutely-on-fire Wild at last overcame the Saddledome demons for a mammoth 4-2 victory Saturday night that pushed the Flames, the best home team in the NHL, to seven points in its wake.

"Well, surprise, surprise," coach Jacques Lemaire said of the Wild's third victory in Calgary and first since Nov. 7, 2003.

In a game that featured playoff intensity (Calgary is only six points up on Colorado for eighth), yet another daunting Brian Rolston slapshot from inside the blue line early in the third period elevated the Wild to its first Western Canadian sweep.

Pavol Demitra iced it with 5:01 left, and Marian Gaborik and Stephane Veilleux each scored tie-breaking goals as the Wild, winners of six in a row for the first time since starting the season 6-0, matched its franchise record with its 42nd victory.

The Wild, 15-3-2 on the road since losing at Calgary on Jan. 9, returns home to open a five-game homestand Tuesday against Phoenix.

"To win here gives us a lot of confidence, but to finish this road trip with six points is huge for us," Gaborik said.

The Wild hopped Dallas for sixth in the West and tied fifth-place San Jose with 91 points. It's still a point from Northwest Division-leading Vancouver, which beat Detroit.

"The division is what we're after," defenseman Nick Schultz said.

With the score tied 2-2, Rolston, who tied Tuesday's game in Vancouver with a low slapper from way out, skated down the left wing, crossed the blue line and teed up a rocket that squeezed through Miikka Kiprusoff's usually unflappable wickets and trickled over the goal line 4 minutes, 47 seconds into the third.

"I'm not trying to be arrogant, but I'm shooting it for a reason. I'm not shooting it for a rebound," Rolston said.

The game started nastily after Niklas Backstrom gave up the ugliest goal of his Wild career 32 seconds in -- an unscreened, floating Daymond Langkow shot from the circle.

But the Wild responded well, and finally tied it on a beautiful Demitra-to-Gaborik give-and-go on a power play for Gaborik's 25th goal, and 18th on the road.

Alex Tanguay gave the Flames a 2-1 lead in the second, but the Veilleux-Wyatt Smith-Branko Radivojevic line, which was the Wild's best line all night, put together a suffocating forecheck minutes later. It ended with Veilleux deflecting Keith Carney's shot for Veilleux's first goal since Jan. 19.

"Goals have never been a big part of my game, but to contribute offensively, it's always nice to get rewarded for effort," Veilleux said.

After the Wild rallied twice, Lemaire told the team to feel free to take the lead. Rolston did, triggering a dominant Wild third.

"It's great to see our team can fight back from deficits against great teams," Rolston said. "Everybody's contributing. We've really come together. We've had a grueling pace here. We've been on the road for a month, really, and we've responded and played really well."

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