Minnesota-Calgary: Wild Extinguish Flames, 4-0
With spectacular defense and consistent offense, the Minnesota Wild won for the second consecutive time in the Pengrowth Saddledome with a 4-0 victory over Calgary Wednesday night.
Minnesota came out strong in the first period and were physical from the first faceoff.
It was an even contest through the majority of the period until late in the first when, in transition, Owen Nolan set up Kyle Brodziak on a beautiful 2-on-1 to take the lead with just over a minute left.
It was all Calgary in the first five minutes of the second period as the Wild were unable to keep offensive pressure in the Flames zone.
Calgary came out hitting hard and forechecking, pinning Minnesota in their end.
The Wild weathered the storm with some great shot blocking from Greg Zanon and Brent Burns.
Even with that, Minnesota used their speed and great passing from Mikko Koivu and Antti Miettinen to give Andrew Brunette a easy tap-in goal to put Minnesota up by two halfway through the second period.
Brunette is second on the team in goals with 18 and second on the team in points.
Just five minutes later, it's Koivu who is sent in on another odd-man rush and blasts a slap-shot by former teammate Mikka Kiprusoff off the left post to make it a three goal lead for the Wild.
The Flames didn't let up as they increased their physicality and got some good offensive pressure but did not have anything to show for it after two periods of play.
Minnesota played impressive defensively not giving up many quality chances, especially odd-man rushes which have plagued the Wild all season long.
Goaltender Niklas Backstrom got great support from his defensive corps with blocked shots and blocked goals.
Greg Zanon and Mikko Koivu both blocked what would have been goals from shots that originally came off the unusually lively back wall and found their way in the crease for what could have been an easy tap in goal for Calgary.
Minnesota came out dominating in the third period controlling most of the gameplay, keeping the Flames in their defensive zone and creating plenty of quality scoring chances.
The Wild got into some penalty trouble midway through the third period taking two straight penalties, but Minnesota stood strong killing both.
The Wild this season have the best penalty kill percentage against Calgary this season at 96 percent.
Riding the momentum after the penalty kill, Martin Havlat put the killing blow into Calgary with Minnesota's fourth goal with just over seven minutes to play.
The key to tonight's victory over the Flames for Minnesota was solid defense—the Wild did not allow Calgary many good scoring chances and second opportunities.
Most notable was the play by Cam Barker, the newest member of the Minnesota Wild who played a solid game at defense. He had great positioning and did everything from blocking shots, blocking passing lanes, and using his sise to be physical with the Calgary forwards.
Niklas Backstrom gets his second shutout of the season and Minnesota wins its third straight game over Calgary this season.
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