Vintage Bouchard makes a dramatic return

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 6, 2011 - 1:04 AM

Pierre-Marc Bouchard said his concussion woes are long gone.

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Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

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It was vintage Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

Before helping set up the Wild's fifth goal and Matt Cullen's second in a 5-1 win over Vancouver on Thursday, Bouchard caught Nick Schultz's slap pass near center ice and skated north.

The Canucks, respecting Bouchard's playmaking ability, backed off and allowed him to skate with the puck. He seemed to mesmerize three sets of Vancouver eyes.

"It just seemed everything we were doing, we were able to get a scoring chance," said Bouchard, who also scored his first goal of the season in a three-point night.

It seemed like everything Bouchard was doing turned to gold -- something that hasn't been seen since Bouchard's two-assist season opener.

"I was probably not playing my best hockey," Bouchard said. "I want to create more stuff out there. For my game, I need to get skating, I need to be on the puck, I've got to try to get open and create stuff and get a little more shots."

Bouchard said his concussion woes are long gone and his slow start (although he's tied for the team scoring lead with eight points) was "all about confidence."

"I think since the beginning of the season I haven't played with the confidence I used to play with," Bouchard said. "Sometimes when you struggle a little bit, you're not as confident with the puck. I'm going to try to build on the last game."

Backstrom to open trip

Josh Harding has won four in a row with a 0.75 goals-against average and .977 save percentage in that stretch, but coach Mike Yeo indicated after Saturday's 2-1 win over St. Louis that he still plans to start Niklas Backstrom to open a five-game trip Tuesday in Calgary.

"We always re-evaluate everything day by day, but definitely I don't want him sitting on the bench for two weeks," Yeo said Saturday morning.

In Backstrom's past five games in Calgary, he's 4-0 with two shutouts, 0.63 goals-against average and .979 save percentage.

"Backy is an All-Star. Hards is an All-Star to become," teammate Guillaume Latendresse said. "So we don't have to look, is it Hards, is it Backy? It doesn't matter. We have two great goalies, and we have to make sure we play the same game in front of both those guys."

Every family has one

The day after his big game against the Canucks, Cullen attended a parent/teacher conference for two of his three sons -- Brooks, 5, and Wyatt, 3.

"They're playing well with others and have great attitudes," Cullen said. "I don't believe it about Wyatt. He's a little crazy man. He chokes out his brother, but every family has one of those, right?"

Snapping sticks

Winger Devin Setoguchi was getting chirped by everyone for snapping three sticks on six shots at Saturday's morning skate.

"That's $600 out of my budget," equipment manager Tony DaCosta quipped.

Dany Heatley came to his buddy's defense: "That's what happens when you shoot the puck hard."

Etc.

• Defenseman Clayton Stoner, ready to return from a finger injury, missed his fourth consecutive game.

• In Wild prospect Brett Bulmer's first game back with his Western Hockey League team, Kelowna, the winger scored two goals, had two assists and was plus-2 in a 6-5 shootout loss to Portland on Friday.

• The Blues will have "38 Night" on Tuesday before their game against the Chicago Blackhawks to honor longtime Blue and former Wild forward Pavol Demitra, who died in September's Russian plane crash that killed the KHL's Lokomotiv hockey team.

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