Backstrom, Wild blank Blues

By Anthony Maggio
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) — Niklas Backstrom recorded his
third shutout of the season and Eric Belanger and Andrew
Brunette netted milestone goals as the Minnesota Wild topped the
St. Louis Blues, 4-0, on Wednesday.

Belanger started the scoring with his 100th career goal and
Brunette netted his 200 tally as Minnesota won for the third
time in its last four games.

Defenseman Marek Zidlicky scored his fourth goal of the season
and Antti Miettinen added an empty-netter for the Wild, who have
scored 20 goals in their last four contests. Zidlicky and
Belanger each notched an assist while defenseman Marc-Andre
Bergeron collected two.

Backstrom was coming off a terrible performance in which he
allowed six goals in two periods against Colorado on Monday and
had just two wins in his previous six starts. But the Finn was
sharp in this contest, notching his first shutout since November

“I felt embarrassed how I played on Monday,” Backstrom said.
“It was nice to go out there and show that you were not that

Playing behind the NHL’s best defense, Backstrom made 22 saves.
He turned aside eight shots in the first period, nine more in
the second and five in the third for his 12th career blanking.

“He was back the way he was,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said of
his netminder. “The last game there, like I said, was not his
fault. They had some great shots and he had no help at all.
But tonight, he was good. Made the saves that he had to to keep
us in the game.”

“Every goalie who goes out there, you want to stop every puck
every night, but it’s not always possible,” Backstrom said. “I
think it’s more for the team to show that they battled hard and
played a good game. No goalie gets a shutout by himself. You
need all the guys helping you, and they helped me really well

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Counterpart Chris Mason entered having allowed just four goals
on his previous 134 shots faced and with a three-game winning

But after keeping St. Louis in the game through two periods,
Mason surrendered a pair of power-play goals early in the third
as the Blues lost for the third time in four games. He finished
with 34 saves.

“They put a lot of pucks on net and they were driving the net
very well,” Mason said. “We knew it was going to be a tough
game after that last game that we had there. They definitely
came out flying.”

After a scoreless first period, Belanger tallied at 10:28 of the
second. He was able to gather the puck, fight off Alex Steen
with his body and sneak a backhander over Mason’s left shoulder.

“It’s a game-winning goal, so it’s fun,” Belanger said of
reaching his milestone. “I felt (Steen) all the way. I just
thought, ‘I’m going to get a shot and see what happens,’ and it
went in.”

Brunette doubled the advantage at 2:54 of the third period and
Zidlicky added his fourth goal of the season less than 2 1/2
minutes later, when his one-timer from the top of the left
faceoff circle beat Mason.

“Right from the beginning of that (second) period, they were
much more assertive than we were and played in our zone,” Blues
coach Andy Murray said. “When you’re playing in your own zone,
you have a tendency to take some penalties, and that’s what we

Miettinen was credited with a goal with 28 seconds remaining,
when he was shoved from behind while skating toward an empty