Wild open second half against Maple Leafs

Toronto (17-22-8) at Minnesota (23-20-3) 8:00 p.m. EST

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) — Niklas Backstrom helped the
Minnesota Wild overcome a dismal stretch with a surge just ahead
of the All-Star break.

Backstrom and the Wild look to continue their momentum when they
open the second half against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

After enduring a 4-9-1 slide from December 5-17 that included a
six-game losing streak, Minnesota bounced back with a 6-4-1
record over its last 11 contests, moving to within two points of
the eighth-place Anaheim Ducks (23-21-5) in the Western
Conference at the All-Star break.

Backstrom, the Wild’s lone All-Star, led the turnaround, going
6-3-0 with a 1.96 goals-against average in his last nine starts.
His recent stellar play moved him to fifth in the NHL with a
2.22 GAA and he is tied for second place amongst netminders with
five shutouts this season.

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The 30-year-old goaltender has been helped by a stingy Minnesota
defense, which has allowed 107 goals this season, tops in the

However, the Wild rank 14th in the West with only 117 goals, but
should be able to find the back of the net against the Maple
Leafs, who have allowed 168 goals – second-most in the Eastern

Toronto closed the first half of the campaign with a 1-5-2
record that included a 4-3 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins on