By Ryan Donaldson
Going into Sunday evening, Niklas Backstrom was 17-0-3 in games after being pulled in the previous matchup. He was given the dreaded hook on Thursday night in
The Wild were down but eager to get even. Coyle and Koivu made nice plays on the puck to feed a gliding Parise whose patient stick handling allowed him to stretch around Flames’ goaltender MacDonald, and tuck it in. Parise’s 17th of the season knotted things up 1-1 going into the first intermission.
The Wild were the better team in the second frame. They continued to look sharp in their offensive zone peppering MacDonald with several good scoring chances, but the Flames’ goaltender was playing extremely well and refused to let in a second goal.
Despite being outshot 25-12 through two,
MacDonald played the part of a brick wall for the majority of the game making 34 saves on 35 shots. In one of the best games the Wild have seen out of an opponent's goaltender, the Flames goalie was all but unbeatable after spurning away point-blank scoring chances from Granlund and Koivu to start the final frame.
Tom Gilbert was forced to hook a streaking Flames player to avoid a Calgary breakaway. Gilbert was sent to the box for two minutes and the Flames capitalized quickly. Cammalleri made it 3-1 during the powerplay putting the game, that the Wild needed so badly, out of reach. Flames added an empty netter and made it 4-1 as time expired in St. Paul Sunday night.
Matt Cullen reiterated after the loss, "Bottom line is we didn't have enough. We played okay for stretches, but we can't lose that game. We have no choice but to put it behind us here. We have three games left and we have to focus on that." Cullen skated off the ice and limped down the tunnel after seeminly re-injuring his lower-body in the second period. He was however, able to return a few minutes later. When asked if he felt okay after returning Cullen bluntly replied, "Yep.".
Mike Yeo knows how fragile of a situation this loss puts the team in, "This time of year, every play can be the difference in the game. Thats the mentality you have to have."
It doesn't get any easier when the Wild hosts the defending Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings Tuesday at 7pm on the FAN!