By Mike Petraglia
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
BOSTON (Ticker) — While Manny Fernandez proved human on home
ice, former teammate Niklas Backstrom was impenetrable.
Backstrom made 28 saves for his second consecutive shutout and
defenseman Marek Zidlicky scored the lone goal as the Minnesota
Wild continued their dominance of the Boston Bruins on Tuesday
with a 1-0 victory.
Backstrom, who stopped 33 shots in a 2-0 triumph at Colorado on
Sunday, made six saves in the first period, nine in the second
and 13 in the third en route to his fifth blanking of the season
and 14th career.
“It was a really big challenge for us,” Backstrom said. “It’s
probably one of the best teams out there, and we really rose to
the challenge. We played a good 60 minutes. It was tough out
“We needed some bounces, but we worked for them. When you work
hard, you get the bounces on your side.”
The 30-year-old Finn is tied with Columbus Blue Jackets rookie
Steve Mason and Vancouver Canucks captain Roberto Luongo for the
league lead in shutouts.
“The biggest thing for us was, we played strong defense,”
Backstrom said. “We kept coming back and getting our backcheck
and kept them on the outside. We needed all the guys down there
for a good, solid defense, and we did that all night.”
Zidlicky scored on a power play 7 1/2 minutes into the second
period to provide all the offense needed by Minnesota, which
improved to 7-1-1 all-time against the Bruins and 5-0-0 in
“(Boston) is a good team,” said Wild coach Jacques Lemaire, the
uncle of Fernandez. “It’s a team that can play better than it
did tonight. When they get the puck to roll, they’re extremely
dangerous. We checked the whole game, we are a checking team.
When we get goals on the power play, we can get by.”
Fernandez turned aside 23 shots for the Bruins, who were shut
out for the first time this season in losing their second
straight game at home in regulation. Boston began the campaign
with a 14-1-1 mark at TD Banknorth Garden.
The loss was the first at home this season for Fernandez
(9-1-0), who shared the William Jennings Trophy with Backstrom
in 2007 while with the Wild.
“I think he did his job,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “One
of the few guys I think we can say was good tonight was Manny.”
“I think we wasted a great effort by Manny tonight,” Boston
rookie Blake Wheeler added. “He deserved better by the way he
There were precious few scoring chances in the first period as
the teams combined for just 11 shots, with Boston holding a 6-5
The power play was the biggest factor in the second, as Boston
was whistled for three minor penalties in the first six minutes
of the session.
“It’s frustrating always having a man down,” Wheeler said. “But
we need to look at ourselves, too. We can’t afford to take
three penalties in a row. That’s just going to slow our
momentum. Ultimately, they’re going to play with the puck in
our zone a lot. We cracked and they scored on it.”
Minnesota finally capitalized on its third man advantage of the
period and fourth of the game when Zidlicky took a pass from
Pierre-Marc Bouchard and skated across the blue line to above
the slot before firing a slap shot past a screened Fernandez and
inside the right goalpost.
“You don’t score on the power play, you don’t win the game,”
said Lemaire, whose team entered with the sixth-best power play
in the league. “We’re not a scoring team 5-on-5. We haven’t
proven that so far. Power plays for us, they’re key. We have
to get the points there until we start to score 5-on-5.”
“After four in a row, we end up giving up a goal,” Julien said.
“It’s not so much about the other team right now, it’s about
The Bruins had several quality chances in the final minute of
the period as they controlled the puck in the offensive zone.
Michael Ryder had the best opportunity when his wrist shot rang
off the left goalpost and ricocheted into the corner.
“Their goalie was great,” Julien said. “We had one puck hit the
post and then he makes the saves.”
Boston’s pressure resulted in its first power play of the night,
created when Bouchard flipped the puck into the stands for a
delay-of-game penalty in the final 10 seconds.
The Bruins had another chance to net the equalizer when Wild
captain Mikko Koivu was called for hooking midway through the
third, but Minnesota successfully killed that man advantage to
maintain its slim lead.
Boston, which fell to 1-2-0 on its six-game homestand, has lost
consecutive contests for just the third time this season and
first since dropping a pair of overtime decisions on October
“We’re just not in sync right now,” Julien said. “We see things
in our team that show we’ve slipped. We’re just a step behind
right now. You don’t panic. It’s a combination of things.”