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Brunette, Backstrom help Wild skate past Ducks

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) -- Andrew Brunette has taken a

liking to his new title of captain of the Minnesota Wild.

In his first contest since being appointed as the club's new

leader, Brunette scored a power-play goal early in the first

period and added an assist as the Wild recorded a 3-0 triumph

over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.

All-Star Niklas Backstrom made 34 saves while Mikko Koivu and

Pierre-Marc Bouchard each scored a goal and set up another for

the Wild, who have won three of their last four contests.

"I think we're getting better every night, and that's the way it

should be," Backstrom said. "We can't be satisfied because the

standings probably will be completely different tomorrow night.

It's good for hockey, but for a player, it's tough.

"It's also a challenge. You've got to play your best game every


The 30-year-old Backstrom turned aside nine shots in the first

period, 11 in the second and 14 in the third to notch his fifth

shutout of the season and 15th career.

Jonas Hiller made 22 saves in his fifth consecutive start for

the Ducks, whose two-game winning streak was halted.

"We had chances, but our execution, we didn't really have any

finish around the net," said Anaheim's Randy Carlyle, who was

coaching his 300th career NHL game. "We had chances, but we

didn't get second and third opportunities. We didn't cycle the

puck like we usually do. We didn't do the things we usually do

that are the staples of our hockey club when we're playing


Brunette, who has collected three goals and 10 points in his

last nine contests, gave Backstrom all the support he needed at

4:21 of the opening session by firing a wrist shot past Hiller

for his 13th tally of the season.

"I'll take that," Brunette said. "We did a good job keeping the

puck to the outside and not giving anything back to the net, and

not too many loose rebounds. I think everybody paid attention

defensively and didn't give them the quality chances we seem to

give up certain nights."

Koivu doubled the advantage 4:20 into the second, wristing the

puck by Hiller from the low slot after receiving a pass from

Antti Miettinen.

"It's more important that we can keep the way we are playing,

every guy show up every night," Koivu said. "That's what we

talked about after the (All-Star) break, that even if you have a

good game or a bad one, you have to get ready for the next one.

Right now, we're doing a good job on that."

With 46 seconds remaining in the third, Bouchard secured the

victory with an empty-netter.

"You look at our defense, they really played well," Minnesota

coach Jacques Lemaire said. "You look at our forwards, they

were really around the puck. They made plays, which was really

good for me."

Hiller has given up three goals or fewer in each of his last

eight appearances in place of ineffective All-Star

Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who has not played since surrendering

two goals in 14 minutes of a 2-1 setback to the New York

Islanders on January 21.

"For sure, everybody knows," Hiller said of his team beginning

its playoff chase. "We're right in the battle for the playoff

spots. Every game now is like a playoff game because you have

to win to make the playoffs. Everybody knows it, but we still

didn't play like it."


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