Backstrom will likely get a chance to rebound from his worst performance of the season as the Wild attempt to re-establish their dominance of the Florida Panthers on Friday night.
Minnesota (7-5-2) is among the stingiest teams in the NHL, allowing 35 goals and Backstrom plays the biggest role in that with a 2.07 goals-against average.
Backstrom and the Wild weren’t sharp Thursday, matching a season high in goals allowed in a 5-1 loss at Atlanta, ending a three-game winning streak. Minnesota has split the first two of this four-game trip, which ends in Tampa Bay on Sunday.
“Sometimes you have to be there to make the save,” said Backstrom, who stopped 29 of 34 shots. “Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case (Thursday). We have to be a lot sharper in our end. Usually, we’re very good when it comes to things like that. But we weren’t good.”
Backstrom and the Wild may be looking forward to a meeting with Florida (6-7-0).
Minnesota is 7-1-1 with a tie in the all-time series with the Panthers, including a 4-1-0 mark on the road. However, the Wild wasted a two-goal, third-period lead to fall 3-2 in a shootout against Florida on March 9 in the only matchup last season.
Backstrom is 3-0-1 with a 1.96 GAA versus the Panthers, with the lone defeat coming last season when he made 29 saves before allowing one of four Florida shooters to score in the tiebreaker. He didn’t get much help, as the Wild were outshot 31-11.
Backstrom, however, has won both meetings at BankAtlantic Center.
Mikko Koivu(notes) will try to provide some offensive support for Backstrom after being held without a point for just the third time this season Thursday. The center leads Minnesota with 11 assists and 14 points, and has three goals and four assists in four career matchups with the Panthers.
Koivu had a career-high five points in a 6-2 win in the Wild’s most recent visit to Florida on Oct. 16, 2008.
The Panthers beat Toronto 4-1 on Wednesday for their second straight home win. They last enjoyed three wins in a row there during a five-game run Jan. 16-31.
Florida has won back-to-back contests overall just once this season with its last three victories being followed by defeats.
Michael Frolik(notes), tied with David Booth(notes) with a team-leading 10 points, will try to snap that trend by extending his career-high point streak to six games. Frolik has four goals and four assists during the surge after finding the net and adding two assists against the Maple Leafs.
Frolik spurred the Panthers’ rally in the last meeting with the Wild, scoring a goal early in the third period before Cory Stillman(notes) forced overtime and converted the winning shootout attempt against Backstrom.
Stillman is struggling with only two assists in his last seven games but the veteran forward has three goals and two assists in the last five contests versus the Wild.