CALGARY – Wade Dubielewicz made the most of a rare appearance.
After starting goalie Niklas Backstrom took a heavy slap shot to the neck area early in the third period, Dubielewicz was thrust into action. He stopped all five shots he faced in regulation and two in a shootout to backstop the Wild to a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames.
It was just Dubielewicz’s third appearance for the Wild this season.
“They made my job easy and scored two in the shootout and it couldn’t have really worked out better,” said the Dubielewicz, who forced Jarome Iginla to shoot wide in the shootout before making a pad save on Nigel Dawes. “It was funny, because I played against him in the American League and he owned me. He was four-for four against me in shootouts.”
Dawes was disappointed he didn’t make a better move against Dubielewicz to extend the shootout.
“As I was going down, I just had a lot too much going through my head and he made a good save,” Dawes said. “He stuck with me and I just ran out of room.”
At the other end of the ice, Brent Burns beat Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff with his backhand attempt during the shootout before Antti Miettinen scored on a similar move to secure the win for the Wild.
Chuck Kobasew scored in the first period for the Wild (38-36-7), while Dawes replied for the Flames (40-31-10) in the second period.
Despite both teams being awarded five-on-three power plays in the third period, neither scored.
“That’s kind of been the story of late, getting a lot of opportunities and a lot of shots and just not being able to find the back of the net,” Dawes said. “That’s probably one of the bigger reasons why we’re in the position we’re in today.”
After spending the majority of the season in the American Hockey League with the Houston Aeros, Dubielewicz was recently called up by the Wild when goalie Josh Harding went down for the season with a hip injury.
“It was nice to get back in there,” said the 31-year-old netminder. “This is the level you want to be playing at, so any time you get a chance, you take advantage of it.”
Backstrom stopped 27 of 28 shots he faced in the Minnesota net before being forced to leave the game after taking a David Moss slap shot to the neck early in the third period.
“He took a pretty good high stinger there,” said Dubielewicz, who made sure his goaltending counterpart was feeling all right after the contest. “I was just happy I could preserve the win for him.”
Minnesota coach Todd Richards said he also made sure his starting goalie was feeling better after the game.
“In talking with him in the room he seems good, he seems fine,” Richards said. “I think at first he was probably more just scared of how it felt, but Dubie came in and did a great job in relief.”
Kiprusoff stopped 23 of 24 shots he faced at the other end of the ice.
With Calgary defenceman Steve Staios in the penalty box for interference, Kobasew put the Wild up 1-0 when he tipped a point shot past Kiprusoff.
The Flames then drew even at 8:23 of the second period when Dawes picked up his own rebound and deposited the puck into the Minnesota net behind Backstrom.
Backstrom preserved the tie on the second period, turning aside back-to-back slap shots off the stick of Iginla.
“We had some good looks a lot of us, myself included, but they didn’t go in,” said Iginla, who has just one goal in his past 15 games. “Guys played hard. We wanted to win our last game at home in front of our fans, but we came up short.”
The Flames had a great opportunity to take the lead early in the third with a two-man advantage for 43 seconds but failed to capitalize.
During another two-man advantage for the Flames, Hagman had a great chance for the Flames but couldn’t corral a nice pass from Iginla quickly enough and shot the puck into the side of the net after being pressured by Minnesota forward Mikko Koivu.
Minnesota then had a two-man advantage for 74 seconds, but couldn’t convert.
NOTES: The Wild has now won three straight games in Calgary to improve its all-time record of 6-18-4 at the Pengrowth Saddledome. … Calgary has scored the first goal of the game in 50 of 81 games they have played this season and have compiled a 33-11-6 record in those games. … Calgary defenceman Jay Bouwmeester extended the NHL’s longest current consecutive games streak to 423 games.