ST. PAUL, Minn. – Todd Richards knows his Minnesota Wild need to learn from the first two lacklustre periods they played against Calgary on Monday night. But he’d still rather they focus on the much better third period that ultimately won the game.
Martin Havlat scored the first of two power-play goals in that period to break a tie and send the Wild to a 4-1 victory over the Flames.
Havlat also had an assist earlier in the game, and Niklas Backstrom stopped 34 shots as the Wild beat the Flames for the second time in three nights.
Earlier this season, the Wild developed a reputation for playing well in the first and third periods, but losing games with lousy second periods. They looked in danger of falling into that trap again Monday night with Calgary outshooting them 13-3. But Backstrom held steady to limit the damage to a single goal.
“Nik was great,” Richards said. “He bailed everyone out every single time. We’ll go back and watch the tape and definitely learn from the second period, try to get better there. But definitely, looking at the way we played the third, it was a game to go out and get, and we went out and got it.”
Kyle Brodziak, John Madden and Cal Clutterbuck also scored for the Wild. Backstrom improved to 7-1-1 in his last nine decisions against Calgary.
Minnesota led 1-0 early before Olli Jokinen tied it for Calgary in the second. The period ended with the crowd booing the home team as it failed to control the puck on its first power play of the game.
On their second attempt with the man advantage, though, the Wild regained the lead on Havlat’s eighth goal of the season. With a clear cut to the net, Havlat picked up a loose puck in the corner and backhanded it over Miikka Kiprusoff’s shoulder to make it 2-1.
Minnesota padded its lead nearly four minutes later when Madden’s shot from along the goal line hit off Kiprusoff’s stick into the net. Clutterbuck added an empty-netter with 45 seconds to play.
“It’s a good sign when you can come in off a period that bad and regroup and refocus and play a much better third period and give yourself a chance to win a hockey game,” Madden said.
Kiprusoff, who has 24 career victories against the Wild, made 19 saves for Calgary.
Brodziak scored his second goal in three games to put Minnesota up 1-0 at 9:18 of the first. After grabbing a rebound off the newly recalled Marco Scandella’s shot from the left circle, Brodziak whipped it around Kiprusoff to give the Wild an early lead.
The Flames tied it early in the second when Jokinen beat Backstrom’s glove off a pretty feed from Jarome Iginla.
“Especially in the second period we felt like we had good chances,” Jokinen said. “But it’s not enough just to have good chances anymore. You have to find a way to win the game and we didn’t do that.”
Minnesota won back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since a three-game streak last month.
“We really haven’t had the consistency that we’ve wanted all year. We’ve strung together two, three games in a row and really found a way to drop off after that for a couple games,” Brodziak said. “I think the focus in the next couple of days is make sure we stick with what’s been working the last few games.”
NOTES: The Wild hadn’t scored a power-play goal at home in more than a month but had two in the third period Monday. … Jokinen got his fourth point in the last three games. … Despite a late-arriving crowd slowed by another Minnesota snowstorm, the Wild announced an attendance of 18,315. That’s officially a sellout, although there were plenty of empty seats.