BOSTON – The Minnesota Wild showed why they’re the NHL’s top defensive team by completely shutting down the league’s best offensive club.
Niklas Backstrom stopped 28 shots for his second straight shutout and fifth of the season to lead Wild to a 1-0 win over Boston, handing the Bruins their first shutout of the season on Tuesday night.
“We had only a few minutes that guys were not good on defence,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. “You have to when you have a team that moves the puck like they do. You gotta have a good stick and your defenceman’s gotta be good.”
Marek Zidlicky scored a second-period power-play goal, lifting Minnesota to its second win against the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins this season.
The victory was the sixth straight against an Eastern Conference team for the Wild and raised their mark to 10-1-1 against teams from the East this season.
It was Boston’s second straight loss, coming after its longest winning streak in nearly 36 years was stopped at 10 games on Saturday.
“I don’t want to say a slump. We’ve lost two games,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We’ve kind of lost that confidence.”
Boston, which entered with a league-leading 143 goals, looked frustrated at times.
“They try to clog you up and try to force you into mistakes,” Boston defenceman Matt Lashoff said. “Then you think you have plays and you don’t.”
It was the first time Boston has lost two straight games in regulation at home. The Bruins dropped a 4-2 decision to Buffalo on Saturday, snapping their 14-game home winning streak.
“Tonight they played really well and it seemed like we couldn’t get anything going,” said Boston right wing Michael Ryder, who missed a few excellent scoring bids. “We had a few chances and couldn’t get one past him.”
The Bruins are 0-5 at home against the Wild.
“It was a really big challenge for us. It’s probably one of the best teams out there, especially playing in their rink,” Backstrom said. “I think our whole team rose to the challenge.”
Backstrom stopped 33 shots in a 2-0 win over Colorado on Sunday.
Skating on its third power play in the opening 6 1/2 minutes of the second, Minnesota grabbed a 1-0 lead when Zidlicky beat goaltender Manny Fernandez with a slap shot inside the right post from the point.
That’s all they needed.
“We play a defensive system, but we play more defensive when we score one goal,” Zidlicky said. “We try to be more tight and safe.”
Fernandez, who played six seasons with Minnesota before being traded to Boston on July 1, 2007, made 23 saves for Boston in his first home loss of the season.
The Bruins had several scoring chances late in the second. The best coming when Ryder hit a skate in front with Backstrom out of position. He also caromed a shot off the outside of the left post with 14 seconds left.
Chances were few in a tight-checking, scoreless opening period. Boston had the best chance when Backstrom made a blocker stop on Ryder’s shot from the right circle. The Bruins had six shots in the first 20 minutes and Minnesota five.
The crowd was loud at the start, likely trying to get the Bruins going early after their first home loss since late October on Saturday, but the Wild’s defensive style quickly helped dampen the noise by limiting up-tempo play.
Notes: Boston D Shane Hnidy was hit in the forehead blocking Cal Clutterbuck’s shot early in the second. He dropped to the ice, got up quickly and headed straight to the locker room. He returned in the third period after getting an undisclosed number of stitches. … Boston D Aaron Ward did not play after leaving Saturday’s game with what Julien said was a “charley horse.” … The Wild played the second of a four-game road trip. … Minnesota RW Marian Gaborik has started rehabilitation from Monday’s surgery on his left hip. He is expected to be sidelined at least 10 weeks.