Wild earn first road win in shootout at Calgary

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CALGARY -- If it were a playoff game, it might have gone on forever.
Instead, Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu helped end Monday's game in a shootout, scoring in the tiebreaker to lift the Minnesota Wild to a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames.
For the Wild (6-5-1), the triumph at the Scotiabank Saddledome marked their first road victory of the season in their fifth skate away from home.
"It wasn't pretty by any means," Wild center Devin Setoguchi said. "That might have been one of the ugliest wins that you're going to see, but we found a way to get the win, and that's all that matters."
Flames goalie Leland Irving, who was making a third consecutive start for injured star Miikka Kiprusoff (knee), and Wild starter Niklas Backstrom were both solid through 60 minutes of regulation and a five-minute overtime period, although neither was tested too often.
Backstrom was the better man in the shootout, allowing a goal to Jiri Hudler on a nifty deke but also stopping Flames forwards Blair Jones and Alex Tanguay to send the crowd of 19,289 home with a sour memory.
Parise and Koivu both made slick moves to their forehand to beat Irving in the skills competition.
"You've got to give them credit, those are some of the top players in the world," Irving said. "I'm getting beat by the best. At the end of the day, it's a battle and we're trying to win a hockey game here, and shootouts are a big part of it."
Shootouts have been a dead-end for the Flames. They're 0-3 in the one-on-one competition this season and have now lost eight in a row dating back to last February.
Flames coach Bob Hartley defended the decision to use Jones as his first shooter, saying that the checking-line center has been his top marksman in practice shootouts.
Jones, who doesn't have a single point in nine games this season, is now 1-for-3 in shootouts in his NHL career.
"I've done it in the past and I'm comfortable doing it," Jones said. "The (lousy) thing is you don't score every time you go, but I wish I would have scored. I'm pretty angry at myself for not putting it in the back of the net and giving our team a chance to win in the shootout."
Jones likely wasn't the only one wishing he'd done things a bit differently in the loss, which leaves the Flames (3-4-3) tied for the lowest point total in the Western Conference with nine.
Flames captain Jarome Iginla was guilty of a costly turnover on Minnesota's opening goal at 18:22 of the second period. After Iginla's clearing attempt hit a skate, Setoguchi grabbed the loose puck and set up linemate Kyle Brodziak, who stepped around Irving and scored his first goal of the season.
The Flames tied it up 1:28 into the third period, when Hudler called his own number on a two-on-one with fellow Czech forward Roman Cervenka, zipping a shot through Backstrom's five-hole.
Hudler is averaging better than a point per game after missing the first three outings of the season to mourn the death of his father.
Irving kicked aside 23 shots for the Flames, while Backstrom finished with 23 stops. The Minnesota goalkeeper also benefited a bit from the iron, with point shots from Mark Giordano and Dennis Wideman ringing off the post.
"I think the last couple games, we've played really strong in our end," Backstrom said. "That's the only way you can win games in this league. You have to keep guys outside and let the goalie see the puck. Our guys have done a great job on that."
With Minnesota's victory, the Washington Capitals are the only NHL squad still seeking their first road win since the lockout was resolved.
The Wild are right back at it for Tuesday's road meeting with the Vancouver Canucks. Monday's win was far from perfect, but Wild head coach Mike Yeo wasn't dwelling on the negatives.
"I don't know that I want to say this is a great game by any means, but I think we played decent enough to win, and I think that we're starting to find our game a little bit more, so that's the most important thing for us," Yeo said. "We know if we're playing our game and we're going out and doing the right things, the result will be there more often than not."
The Flames have one night off before hosting the Dallas Stars on Wednesday.
NOTES: Koivu, Minnesota's captain, appeared in his 500th NHL game. ... The Flames added another goaltender to the equation prior to Monday's game, claiming 33-year-old Joey MacDonald off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings. ... A trio of Wild rookies -- defenseman Jonas Brodin (Sweden) and forwards Charlie Coyle (United States) and Mikael Granlund (Finland) -- were making their first trip to the Saddledome since the 2012 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, which was split between Calgary and Edmonton. ... Flames rookie winger Sven Baertschi, who missed a sixth consecutive game with a hip flexor injury, joined his teammates for Monday's morning skate. Michael Cammalleri, also dealing with a hip flexor ailment, was on the ice but was moved to injured reserve, retroactive to Feb. 5. Cammalleri is eligible to be activated for Wednesday's game with the Dallas Stars ... Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon missed a ninth straight due to a foot injury. The good news is Spurgeon is on Minnesota's two-game trip.

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