A lackluster performance by the Minnesota Wild led to its second consecutive 5-2 home loss, this time to the Northwest Division cellar-dwelling Calgary Flames.

Niklas Backstrom started for the Wild, but lasted just 8:45 allowing three goals on eight shots. All three goals were saves he should have made. The three soft goals include a sharp angle shot from the side of the goal, a backhand that snuck past him and a forehand shot off a rush that squeezed between his legs.

Backstrom entered the game red hot against the Flames with 0.88 goals against average in his last seven starts.

The night did not get any better for any part of the Wild’s team after Josh Harding relieved him.

The Wild defensemen had another rough night with several turnovers that created scoring opportunities for the Flames and had a few pucks escape at the offensive blue line.

The Wild (13-7-3) rose to the top of the Western Conference with strong defensive from its young defensemen. Several of them have not played well over the two games and a change may be in order.

At the other end of the ice, the Wild failed to sustain any offensive consistency and continues to struggle to get shots (fourth worst in the NHL at getting shots on goal).

The Wild got an early power play goal from Cal Clutterbuck one minute and 57 seconds into the game. Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu worked a nice passing play at the blue line to get the puck to Clutterbuck at the side of the goal.

With the assist, Koivu extended his point streak to five games (two goals and five assists).

After giving up a pair of goals, Nick Johnson tied the game at 2-2 with wrist shot off a pass from Kyle Brodziak over the blocker shoulder of Miikka Kiprusoff.

The Wild come right back Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Xcel Energy Center.

Three Stars

No. 3 – Nick Johnson. The Wild forward scored a goal.

No. 2 – Lee Stempniak. The Flames forward scored a goal.

No. 1 – Jarome Iginla. The Flames forward scored a goal.


Calgary           3 0 1 – 4

Minnesota       2 0 0 – 2

       First Period – 1, Minnesota, Clutterbuck 6 (Koivu, Heatley), 1:57 (pp). 2, Calgary Giordano 4 (unassisted), 4:37. 3, Calgary, Stempniak 5 (Backlund, Butler), 6:54. 4, Minnesota, Johnson 3 (Brodziak), 8:06. 5, Calgary, Brodie 1 (Stajan, Jackman), 8:45. Penalties – Giordano, Cal (high sticking), :28; Clutterbuck, Min (high sticking), 8:53; Stoner, Min (roughing), 12:50; Glencross, Cal (cross checking), 12:50.

       Second Period – None. Penalties – Peters, Min (slashing), 2:02; Bourque, Cal (tripping), 10:48; Smith, Cal (holding), 16:12; Stempniak, Cal (holding), 19:28.

       Third Period – 6, Calgary, Tanguay 4 (unassisted), 1:39. 7, Iginla 7 (Glencross, Jokinen), 8:26. Penalties – Bench, Min (unsportsmanlike conduct; served by Staubitz), 8:26; Stajan, Cal (goaltender interference), 18:38.

       Shots on goal – Calgary 15-11-9 35. Minnesota 7-10-4 21.

       Goalies – Calgary, Kiprusoff (19-21). Minnesota, Backstrom (5-8); Harding (25-27). A – 16,864. Referees – Dean Morton, Paul Devorski. Linesmen – Dan Schachte, Pierre Champoux.