Who would have thought this before the start of this season? The Wild would be swept in Edmonton and sweep in Calgary?

Remember, the Wild couldn't lose for years in Edmonton and couldn't win in history in Calgary. The Wild went 3-0 in Calgary this season after winning three times in 25 visits during the first eight years of the franchise.

So three of the Wild's 13 road wins this season were in Calgary.

Gutty, gutty performance tonight. The Wild, already without six regulars (Latendresse, Havlat, Nolan, Ebbett, Zidlicky, Schultz), lost two more tonight in goalie Niklas Backstrom (throat) and James Sheppard (knee) and still pulled it out.

With 17:46 left in the third period and the game tied at 1, Backstrom was nailed in the throat by a rising shot from Calgary's David Moss. This puck hit Backstrom literally less an inch to the right of the Adam's apple. He's got a red puck print there. He couldn't breathe, couldn't swallow, but he's OK. He wanted to come back in the game, but the Flames doctors wouldn't allow him fearing it could swell up or worse.

There have been a lot of horrific incidents in recent years from similar situations, especially in Montreal, but he's OK.

Wade Dubielewicz came on and played the final 17:46, the overtime and the shootout for his first win since playing in Chicago last year as a member of the Blue Jackets. The Wild took five minors in a span of 8:55 of one point, with Dubie in for much of that. And yet he only faced five shots because the Wild did a tremendous job collapsing in front of the net and blocking shots. He also made two saves in the shootout.

Brent Burns and Antti Miettinen scored in the shootout. Sheppard looked to sustain a serious knee injury when he was hit from behind by Calgary's Robyn Regehr. Coach Todd Richards said he won't play Saturday vs. Dallas.

But Backstrom said he expects to start the season finale.

Just a great opportunity for the young kids tonight. Casey Wellman was solid and assisted on Chuck Kobasew's goal, as did Burns, who held the puck basically the entire shift. Nate Prosser was just outstanding. He even played on a 5-on-3 disadvantage and started overtime. Twenty-one minutes in his second NHL game.

Just poised, skates well, smart.

Burns played a fine game, totaling 28:55 of ice time. Kobasew, in his first game back from a sprained MCL, played 22 1/2 minutes and scored. Maxim Noreau played 7:01 in a jittery NHL debut.

Greg Zanon looked like he was shot during a blocked shot late in the third. He left the bench, walked it off and didn't miss a shift. "I'll live," he said after the game.

Nick Schultz was expected to play and wanted to play, but he was told he was not playing. He clearly was not happy about that but played the good soldier like he always is. This is a guy who usually needs his appendix to explode (literally) not to play.

That's it. I must get out of here because I've got a lot of work ahead of me when I get back to the hotel still. I can't imagine more than a few guys practice tomorrow. I've got an early flight, so I'll update blog later in the afternoon if I get injury updates.

Here's the original Max Noreau story that ran in the early editions that I chopped up in the later ones:


In the seventh round of every NHL draft, there’s always a few nail-biting draft-eligible youngsters still left in the stand praying to hear their name.
The anxiety on their faces is a sad sight. Maxim Noreau was one of those kids once.
In 2007, Noreau traveled to Columbus hoping to get drafted during his third consecutive year of eligibility. He knew the Wild was interested, but lo and behold, the Wild only had five draft picks and didn’t use one on him.
Nobody else drafted Noreau either, so after the draft, Wild assistant GM Tommy Thompson signed Noreau to an amateur tryout and invited him to the team’s draft reception later that night.
Tom Lynn, Thompson’s former fellow-assistant GM, eventually signed Noreau to an American Hockey League contract, then to an NHL deal in 2008.
After parts of three seasons working up the Wild’s ladder, Noreau “finally” made his NHL debut Thursday night against the Flames. He was the eighth Wild player to make his NHL debut this season and franchise-record 40th player to play a game.
During a disappointing season for the Houston Aeros, Noreau was one of the few bright spots. He’s tied for the league lead among defensemen in goals (18) and tied for the team lead in points (51).
Yet, he had to wait until Game 81 to get the call to Minnesota.
“I wasn’t frustrated, maybe just a little disappointed,” Noreau, 22, said. “I was working hard. They told me to work on my defense, so the last month and a half, I’ve really been working down there with the coaches watching video, working on my skating, my one-on-ones.
“I think I improved a lot. Maybe that’s what they saw and why they finally gave me a chance.”
Aeros assistant coach Troy Ward hinted to Noreau that he had been recalled Wednesday morning, yet Noreau was so used to not getting promoted, he didn’t even pick up on it. Ward had him take shots from a different area than usual on the power play.
“I was like, ‘Am I changing spots? Do you want to move me because the power play is struggling?’” Noreau said. “He’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to move you, but you’re not going to be here.’ I didn’t read anything into it. I didn’t even pack my equipment.”
Noreau went home, got a call from Aeros GM Jim Mill that he’d been called up and, “I realized [Ward] wasn’t joking around in the morning. So I had to go back to the rink and get my stuff.”
Noreau says he was passed up three times at the draft because his skating wasn’t up to par despite two strong seasons for Victoriaville in the Quebec League. But Noreau said that’s been his great improvement since turning pro.
“I believed I could do it, and I think this is proof,” Noreau said. “Being here is an honor and gives me some good motivation going into the summer.”