ST. PAUL, Minn. – Andrew Brunette and Mikko Koivu scored goals, and All-Star Niklas Backstrom made them stand with his sixth shutout of the season to lead the Minnesota Wild past the Anaheim Ducks 3-0 on Wednesday night.
Backstrom made 34 saves, several requiring quick reactions from close in. Anaheim’s Chris Kunitz had a short-handed breakaway midway through the period, but Backstrom denied him with his left pad. The Ducks went 0-for-5 on the power play.
The Wild picked up an important two points, without letting their opponent get one, in the crazy-competitive Western Conference playoff race. Anaheim is in fifth place with 57 points, and Minnesota moved into a sixth-place tie with Dallas with 55 points. But four other teams have 53 points or more, setting up a scrappy final two months for those precious last spots in the post-season.
Brunette took the puck out of the corner on a first-period power play and kept trying to jam it past Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller, who eventually let it past him.
Mikko Koivu’s second-period goal, fed by a behind-the-net pass from fellow Finn Antti Miettinen, gave Minnesota a comfortable lead. Koivu also assisted on Brunette’s goal, giving him a career-high 35 for the season. Pierre-Marc Bouchard had an assist and an empty-net goal in the final minute.
The Ducks were blanked for the third time this season. Corey Perry, who had three goals in Anaheim’s first two victories over the Wild this season, had only two shots in the first two periods.
The Ducks won here 3-0 on Jan. 17, and Hiller made 30 saves that night.
Notes: Wild RW Owen Nolan, who has missed 19 games this season with various injuries, was scratched with muscle spasms in his upper body. He has 12 goals and nine assists in 31 games. … Newly acquired Ducks RW Mike Brown, who came in a trade with Vancouver on Tuesday, was scratched. So was C Brendan Morrison, for the second straight game. He’s on a 16-game scoreless streak. … Ducks C Samuel Pahlsson has been placed on injured reserve. He’s fighting an illness. … With the recession in mind, the Wild froze all of their season-ticket prices for next season, though they haven’t decided yet about single-game costs. With a base of 16,500 season tickets and a waiting list at 7,500, the Wild have announced a sellout – official capacity is 18,568 – for all 351 home games in their history. Vice president Jamie Spencer said the slumped economy hasn’t affected the organization’s goal to maintain that streak.