Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Wild wins 1-0 shootout over L.A.; Theodore to start Thursday's game in Denver

Posted by: Michael Russo under On the road, Wild game coverage Updated: February 1, 2011 - 11:37 PM

Evening from the X, where the Wild overcame the post-All-Star break rust and eked out a 1-0 shootout over the Kings.

The Wild moved back into eighth in the West FOR TWO HOURS before dropping again out of the top-eight. That's because Phoenix coughed up a 3-0 lead in San Jose and lost in regulation.

P-M Bouchard scored the lone shootout goal and Niklas Backstrom was a perfect 3 for 3 in the shootout after his 27 saves through overtime for his third shutout of the season and 22nd of his career.

Backstrom got lucky when he robbed Jack Johnson with a desperation right skate save on L.A's second shootout attempt, a save that will be seen on highlights for some time. You can read the gamer for all the quotes.

Despite the win, Todd Richards said Jose Theodore (hip) will make his first start since Jan. 11 at his old stomping ground, Colorado, on Thursday. Backstrom, 7-3 in his past 10 starts, is usually great against the Avs and he's a hot goalie, so this surprises me. But Richards said the Wild needs to get Theodore back playing again and they don't want to overload the goalies right now because of injury risks (although the Wild hasn't played since last Tuesday, play Thursday and Saturday and not again until Wednesday).

He said the Wild will need two healthy goalies down the stretch. One other thought in my head is the Wild could conceivably trade Theodore before the Feb. 28 deadline (last year of his deal), and for that to happen, he's got to be playing and showing he's good and healthy.

Back to this game, the Wild was rusty early. Not a lot of hitting, couldn't connect on passes, but that was predictable. They defended really well, blocking 25 shots -- seven by Greg Zanon. He praises a team effort in that department, especially Eric Nystrom, Chuck Kobasew and John Madden.

Clayton Stoner also had a real good game. And Nystrom was outstanding.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire sat in the press box wearing a Brent Burns jersey and afterward, he donned the goalie equipment to take part in Fox Sports North postgame instructional.

"You get to see a good goalie (Backstrom) and you get to see a bad goalie (Gardenhire)," joked Richards.

Backstrom snapped a personal seven game losing streak in shootouts. The Wild snapped an eight game losing streak in shootouts and won for the first time since Dec. 4, 2009. Overall, the Wild's won five of six and is 13-6-1 in the past 20.

Andrew Brunette played his 1,000th game. He robbed in the third on a power play by Jonathan Bernier. He got a nice ovation, and the Kings graciously gave him the sticktap. Willie Mitchell, his old pal, shot pucks at him in warmup and chirped him during the ovation. All in good fun obviously.

What else? Matt Birk was also up here tonight's shooting the breeze with Souhan. Real nice guy.

This was the first 0-0 regulation game at the X since March 27, 2007 (1-0 shootout loss to Calgary). The close game tonight was not a shocker. Ten of the past 15 meetings with L.A. have been one-goal games, with six going to overtime.

Onto Denver and Phoenix now. The Wild's 14-8-3 on the road.

Not sure if I'll be blogging Wednesday. We've had to shuffle the schedule a bit and Kent's on Wolves and I'm flying to Denver, so I won't be at Wild practice. If there's any news or updates, I'll blog. Otherwise, read Thursday's paper for Wild coverage.

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