ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP)—This time Minnesota finished what it started.
Brian Rolston and Branko Radivojevic also scored for Minnesota, which snapped a five-game winless streak. Niklas Backstrom stopped 23 shots in his return after missing four games because of a strained groin.
When the teams met Oct. 24 in Calgary, Minnesota jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead, only to have the Flames rally to win 5-3. It was the first loss in Minnesota’s winless slide.
“This was kind of revenge, and it was great that we battled hard and got two points,” Gaborik said.
The contest was the start of eight straight games against Northwest Division foes for both teams. Minnesota, which entered the night tied with Colorado atop the division, now leads Calgary by three points.
“We beat them last time. They beat us. You want to have all of your division games for sure, but you are not going to,” Iginla said. “Every loss feels tough, but more so when you lose to a division team that you are right beside in the standings. You have to think of the four-point swings and all that. But we play them six more times.”
Rolston said the Wild is a much stronger mentally than it was 10 days ago, and what happened in Calgary will not happen again.
“We started making plays,” he said. “Our D did a great job handling the puck when we had it and made good plays up the ice. We were able to tip it in and get some good chances offensively.”
“I told Mark that he gets an assist for every one I get from back there,” Rolston said. “If Kiprusoff sees it, he’s going to stop it.”
Gaborik put Minnesota up 2-0 6:37 into the second, when he beat Kiprusoff on a breakaway.
With the Wild caught on a line change, Keith Carney slid to stop a shot during a 4-on-2 Calgary rush. James Sheppard corralled the loose puck and found Gaborik behind the Flames’ defense just as he came onto the ice.
Gaborik has scored in both games after his two-game absence due to a groin injury.
“It was just fortuitous for them that they happen to get puck possession when he made his line change,” Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. “You have to have better awareness. Our defense has to count the jersey in front of them and see that there are only four, and look around and see where the fifth is.”
Iginla tipped a slap shot by Adrian Aucoin past Backstrom with 38 seconds left in the second period to make it a 2-1 game. Iginla is the leading career scorer against Minnesota with 23 goals and 17 assists in 37 games.
But Gaborik, who has 23 points in 32 career games against Calgary, returned the lead to two with a power-play goal early in the third.
A slap shot from Kim Johnsson was stopped by Kiprusoff, but Gaborik fought off a check by Aucoin and backhanded the rebound over the netminder.
Backstrom, now 18-0-0 in his career when leading going into the third period, made a pad save on a shot by Kristian Huselius to thwart Calgary’s best scoring chance in the final period.
Calgary was 0-for-3 on the power play, and is 3-for-32 in its past six games. It is 1-for-17 on the road this year.
“We played decent enough five-on-five, but it was our special teams that let us down. We gave up two power-play goals, and that was the essence of the game. And our power play didn’t come through when we had the opportunity,” Keenan said.
Radivojevic scored an empty-net goal with 58.8 seconds to play.
“We got a great start and today we finished the game the same way we started. That’s a big step for us and now we have to do that every night,” Backstrom said.
Wild RW Pavol Demitra missed the third period with a leg injury, and is to be evaluated Sunday. … Minnesota LW Derek Boogaard did not return after a second period fight with Eric Godard. Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said he had a sore hand and couldn’t hold his stick. … Calgary C Wayne Primeau missed his sixth straight game with an ankle injury. … Minnesota D Brent Burns had two assists, and now has assists in three straight games.