WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Niklas Backstrom made 37 saves in a surprise start as the Minnesota Wild continued its dominance over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon.
The Wild goalie also had all the goal support he needed. Center Charlie Coyle had the shootout winner as the Wild defeated its Central Division rivals for the third time this season in a 3-2 win.
Backstrom, sidelined for four games with an upper-body injury, was called upon when fellow netminder Josh Harding was injured in warmups.
Backstrom had struggled against the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise in his career, but he brought his record up to 2-3-2. Minnesota improved to 15-5-4 with its second win in a row, while Winnipeg dropped its fourth consecutive game to fall to 10-11-4.
The Wild overcame two deficits to earn the win. With defenseman Marco Scandella in the penalty box for hooking, left winger Zach Parise brought Minnesota even with his 11th goal of the season after taking a feed from center Mikko Koivu and roofing a shot on Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec with 4:55 remaining in the third period. The goal was the fifth shorthanded goal allowed by Winnipeg this season, while it was the first shorthanded goal for the Wild.
Jets right winger Michael Frolik opened the scoring at 13:07 of the second period, beating Backstrom from in tight. The play started when fellow right winger Matt Halischuk's shot attempt was deflected by Minnesota defenseman Nate Prosser and sailed in the air to Backstrom's right. Frolik managed to free his stick from an entanglement of three Wild defenders and center Mark Scheifele in front of the goal and jammed the puck into the net.
Wild right winger Nino Niederreiter evened the game 3:21 into the third period when Scandella's shot came to his stick after being stopped by Pavelec. Niederreiter shoveled the puck across the line for his fifth tally of the season.
Halischuk's second goal of the season brought the Jets back into the lead just 2:14 later, as he took a feed from Frolik. Though his first attempt was stopped by Backstrom, he persisted and his second attempt slid under the netminder's glove.
The Jets worked to challenge Backstrom in the opening stanza, outshooting the Wild 14-3. While the Wild defenders worked to keep Winnipeg's attack contained to the perimeter, Backstrom was forced to make a tough save on Scheifele by kicking out his right leg after the Winnipeg rookie gathered up a rebound from defenseman Grant Clitsome in the slot.
Minnesota came to life in the second period, putting pressure on Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec early in the period in the hopes of breaking the deadlock. Pavelec's most challenging save of the frame came off rookie Jason Zucker, who garnered a puck in the slot off a rebound but was denied by the very edge of Pavelec's right skate. Pavelec made 33 saves for the Jets.
NOTES: Jets G Ondrej Pavelec played his 250th NHL game in a 6-3 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. ... Jets D Mark Stuart returned to the lineup after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury. Stuart had been out of the lineup since Nov. 2. ... Wild D Jonas Brodin recorded his first career multi-point game by tallying a goal and an assist in a 4-3 win over the host Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night. ... Wild G Josh Harding recorded a season-high 34 saves in the victory over Ottawa. ... The game capped a three-game homestand for the Jets, who will embark on a season-long six-game road trip as the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, Canada's national Olympic curling playdowns, takes over the MTS Centre from Dec. 1-8. Winnipeg will play games at the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning before returning home to face the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 10. ... This was the third game in a four-game road swing for Minnesota, which will wrap the trip in St. Louis on Monday. The Wild lost 6-2 at the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday before defeating the Ottawa Senators the next night. Minnesota will begin a two-game homestand against the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday.