Niklas Backstrom led the Minnesota Wild to a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday at Xcel Energy Center.

One night after allowing three soft goals on eight shots in eight minutes and 45 seconds to the Calgary Flames, Backstrom stopped 32 shots, including several sliding across the crease.

“No doubt,” Wild head coach Mike Yeo said after the game about starting Backstrom against the Lightning. “He has been so good for us this year. He deserves that.”

Backstrom improved to 13-0-2 with a 1.91 goals against average and .941 save percentage in games after being the pulled not due to injury in 15 occurrences since March of 2008.

The only goal the Lightning (11-10-2) scored came off a rocket shot on a rush early in the second period by Steven Stamkos.

The Wild (14-7-3) started out a little slow, but really turned it on after tying the game 1-1 nearly two minutes after falling behind.

The Wild’s first penalty of the game provided it with the opportunity to take the momentum.

Mikko Koivu stole the puck at the Lightning blue line and got the puck to Cal Clutterbuck in front of the goal. Clutterbuck made a move to his forehand side and got a shot through the stick of Mathieu Garon for his seventh goal of the season and third shorthanded. His three shorthanded goals rank him first in the NHL in that category.

“Unbelievable,” Yeo said. “We really started getting momentum from that point on.”

Koivu later scored his 100th career goal with 23.8 seconds remaining on an empty net. The goal and assist extends his scoring streak to six games. He has three goals and six assists in that span.

Clutterbuck and Jared Spurgeon assisted on the empty-net goal.

The Wild took the lead for good nearly six and a half minutes after tying the game on a one-time slap shot by Pierre-Marc Bouchard. His shot just inside the faceoff circle to Garon’s left came off a nice pass from Nick Johnson in the high slot.

Johnson has now gotten a point in back-to-back games for the third time this season.

The Lightning’s 1-3-1 trapping system gained attention when the Philadelphia Flyers just held the puck off the opening faceoff hoping that the Lightning would come to them. Neither team flinched the play was stopped, something the league feels is the right thing for the referees to do in that situation. The Lightning are disciplined in it.

“You have to accept that is the way it is going to be,” Yeo said about the Wild having to make well-placed passes up the boards. “You’re not going to be able to dance your way through the neutral zone.

The Wild head on the road for a quick road game against the Edmonton Oilers Wednesday before returning home Friday against the New Jersey Devils.

Three Stars

No. 3 – Pierre-Marc Bouchard. The Wild forward had the game-winning goal.

No. 2 – Cal Clutterbuck. The Wild forward had a goal and an assist.

No. 1 – Niklas Backstrom. The Wild goaltender stopped 32 shots.


Tampa Bay     0 1 0 – 1

Minnesota      0 2 1 – 3

       First Period – None. Penalties – Pyatt, TB (tripping), 14:29.

       Second Period – 1, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 15 (unassisted), 5:53. 2, Minnesota, Clutterbuck, 7 (Koivu), 7:39 (sh). 3, Minnesota, Bouchard 3 (Johnson), 17:06. Penalties – Cullen, Min (slashing), 6:34; Moore, TB (hooking), 13:43.

       Third Period – 4, Minnesota, Koivu 4 (Spurgeon, Clutterbuck), 19:36 (en). Penalties – Heatley, Min (tripping), :43.

       Shots on goal – Tampa Bay 11-9-13 33. Minnesota 7-9-8 24.

       Goalies – Tampa Bay, Garon (21-23). Minnesota, Backstrom (32-33). A – 16,628. Referees – Stephane Auger, Paul Devorski. Linesmen – Pierre Champoux, Mike Cvik.