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Wild up to 6th after win at Calgary

The SportsXchange

CALGARY, Alberta -- Acquiring Jason Pominville at the trade deadline was supposed to give the Minnesota Wild a much-needed offensive push to earn a playoff spot.

Pominville continues to deliver his side of the bargain.

He scored twice Monday, including the eventual game-winner, to lead the Wild to a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"We've done some good things offensively (lately) and weren't able to create as much and weren't able to put some away, but finally tonight got rewarded with some," Pominville said. "It was nice to see a lot of guys get on the board and rewarded with the win."

Pominville, traded by the Buffalo Sabres along with a fourth-round draft choice in exchange for young goalie Matt Hackett, forward prospect Johan Larsson, a first-round draft choice and second-round pick, now has collected four goals and two assists in six games for the Wild since the deal.

More important, he was a catalyst in a victory that snapped Minnesota's three-game winless skid. Having dropped six of the last seven games, the Wild were on the verge of possibly falling out of a playoff spot.

"I think we'd be lying to say we don't look at the standings basically every day, trying to figure out what's going on throughout the league and teams that are playing and not playing, but I think right now we control our destiny," Pominville said. "We've just got to go out there and execute, and tonight was a start."

Whether it's the start of a winning streak that will vault the team up the standings remains to be seen, but the Wild started the game on the right note when captain Mikko Koivu scored just over two minutes into the game.

Pominville's first of the night midway through the second period doubled the edge.

The Flames, who are one lost point or a single point earned by the Detroit Red Wings from being officially eliminated, briefly made a game of it when Jiri Hudler scored early in the third period.

However, Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored 11 seconds later, and Pominville added his second of the game shortly after to seal the deal.

With the win, the Wild moved up to sixth spot in the West.

"A big win," Koivu said. "It's a big road trip for us, so you always want to start on a good note, and I think we did that tonight. It was a good battle, but I think we were just a little better and earned the win."

The Flames, responded with a couple of late goals, one by rookie Sven Baertschi -- his second in as many games -- and the other from Ben Hanowski, one of the prospects acquired in the Jarome Iginla trade. Hanowski was making his NHL debut.

"I felt a little lighter on the ice after getting that one," Hanowski said. "It's hard to put into words right now, but it was a special moment and I'll always remember it. To score in the NHL is something you do in your backyard in the summer, playing road hockey with your buddies, so to finally do it is pretty special."

The Flames are playing out the string, so special moments, such as first games, first goals and first points for the crop of youngsters joining the team down the stretch is about the best highlights these days.

"If you watch the bench reaction when a guy gets his first NHL goal, everyone is pretty happy for him," said Michael Cammalleri, who assisted Hanowski's tally. "It's a good goal, he went hard to the net and put it in. That's what you've got to do to score goals. I'm happy for him. That's special to get one in your first NHL game."

NOTES: Hanowski was one of the two prospects, along with a first-round draft choice, acquired by the Flames in the trade that sent Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hanowski, whose fourth season at St. Cloud State University came to an end in the semifinal of the NCAA Frozen Four, signed with the team over the weekend and stepped into the lineup. The fact his first NHL game came against the Wild wasn't lost on the Minnesota product. "Growing up, this is what you always dreamed of, playing in the NHL," he said. "(Facing the Wild) adds the cherry on top. It'll be fun to be out there. Playing Minnesota just makes it that much sweeter than it would have been anyway." ... With the addition of Hanowski, the Flames -- who were the oldest team in the NHL earlier in the season -- now have six players age 24 and under on the roster. By comparison, the Wild have seven players age 24 and under. ... The Wild received a big lift with the return to the lineup of C Matt Cullen, who missed a half-dozen outings. ... Cammalleri played the 600th game of his NHL career .... With his second-period goal, Pominville finally has scored against every NHL team other than the Buffalo Sabres, where he played all of his career prior to this month ... Bouchard scored only his second goal in the Saddledome. He's played in Calgary now 22 times.
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