Wild loses Backstrom, but rallies for shootout win vs. Toronto

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 14, 2013 - 7:53 AM

The rough-and-tumble Maple Leafs knocked Niklas Backstrom out of the game in the first period, but Zach Parise scored late and the Wild won in a shootout.

 

Randy Carlyle, the no-nonsense, brusque Toronto Maple Leafs coach, loves the rough stuff.

The Wild especially knows this.

In 2007, the Wild got so pushed around during its playoff loss to Carlyle’s Anaheim Ducks during their Stanley Cup run that then-GM Doug Risebrough acquired heavies Todd Fedoruk and Chris Simon the following year to join Derek Boogaard.

Wednesday night, the Maple Leafs incited scrum after scrum and took out Minnesota’s starting goaltender, Niklas Backstrom, halfway through the first period. But in the end, for the second consecutive meeting against the Maple Leafs, the Wild dramatically outchanced Toronto only to this time rally for a 2-1 shootout victory.

“They want to mix it up after the whistles,” said Wild leading scorer Zach Parise, who scored the tying goal with 4 minutes, 17 seconds left. “For us, we don’t bother with that. That’s not our game. That’s kind of their M.O., but we did a good job staying away from that.”

The Wild, 5-0-1 in its past six games, didn’t do it the easy way. It went 0-for-5 on the power play and looked cooked when it mustered only one shot during a five-minute major in the third period.

But the Wild kept pressuring and finally the top line struck. Charlie Coyle stole a pass from former Gopher Phil Kessel before setting up Parise’s tying goal, a pass that deflected off Parise’s right skate and behind Jonathan Bernier after Kessel kicked it in.

Parise and Jason Pominville each scored in the shootout as the Wild, which got another 36-minute game from Ryan Suter (108 minutes the past three games), picked up points for the 10th time in 11 games (8-1-2).

Backstrom was knocked out of the game because of an “upper-body injury” after taking a forearm shiver to the head from Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri. In the third period, Kadri was assessed a match penalty for an illegal hit to Mikael Granlund’s head. Both hits will be reviewed by the NHL.

“That’s what we’re trying to get rid of,” Parise said.

The Wild never challenged Kadri, was outhit 33-15 and often was on the receiving end of Toronto’s aggression.

“Do we match up against that team’s toughness? No, we don’t,” coach Mike Yeo said. “Now we do have a team that cares about each other very much, and we stick up for each other, trust me.

“Between the whistles and the way we fought through this game and found a way to win, that’s a message, too, to your teammates.”

Pominville said the proper way to respond would have been making the Maple Leafs pay on the power play.

“I would have liked to put them away,” Pominville said, adding, “We didn’t really get pushed around. I mean, they were physical, but they got penalties on them. I don’t even think that counts as physicality. Anyone can be physical and get penalties.”

Backstrom tried to play through the cobwebs but eventually left 10½ minutes into the first. In came Josh Harding, who didn’t start because he was ill the night before.

Cold off the bench, the NHL’s goals-against average (1.21) and save percentage (.947) leader made 19 saves to improve to 10-2-2.

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  • Wild goalie Nicklas Backstrom laid on the ice after being hit by Maple Leaf Nazem Kadri during the first period at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Min., Wednesday, November 13, 2013. ] (KYNDELL HARKNESS/STAR TRIBUNE) kyndell.harkness@startribune.com

  • Maple Leaf Morgan Rielly and Wild’s Torrey Mitchell chased after the puck along the boards during the first period at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Min., Wednesday, November 13, 2013. ] (KYNDELL HARKNESS/STAR TRIBUNE) kyndell.harkness@startribune.com

  • The Wild’s Jason Pominville beat Jonathan Bernier for the winning shootout goal after the Toronto goalie had made 33 saves through overtime on Wednesday night.

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