Either way you look at it, Devin Setoguchi scored the game's
lone goal with 2:31 left and lifted the Wild to a 1-0
victory over the Avalanche on Thursday night.
Niklas Backstrom stopped 27 shots for his second shutout this
season to make Setoguchi's sixth goal this season and second in two
games hold up.
"I don't think I even had a shot on net until that point,"
Setoguchi said. "It was a play where (Dany Heatley) just shot the
puck, it landed on your stick and sometimes that's all it takes."
Heatley's shot deflected off Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson
right to Setoguchi as he streaked through the slot. The Avs could
do nothing about the carom, but were incensed that Wild winger Cal
Clutterbuck wasn't whistled for high-sticking in front of the
Wild's bench as the play unfolded.
Yeo said it was simply two players battling, and the contact was
incidental. Jay McClement, who was struck by in the face by
Clutterbuck's stick, and Sacco disagreed.
"I got a good one there," McClement said. "There were a lot
of bodies around there. I don't know if it's tough to see, or the
time of the game or what have you. It's unfortunate we had a tough
bounce. I think we had our chances to win earlier in the game."
Backstrom earned his 24th NHL shutout and the Wild's third this
season in 19 games. It was his first home blanking since Feb. 1,
2011, against Los Angeles.
Despite the team being sluggish coming off a season-high,
five-game road trip, Backstrom led Minnesota to its third straight
victory and eighth in 10 games.
"Mentally it was very tough," Backstrom said. "The way we're
playing defense at the moment is good. For sure we want to do
better, but the guys are really bearing down and helping each other
out there and that's a big part of our game."
Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 17 saves for the Avalanche, who have
lost three straight and four of five.
The first two periods featured few good scoring chances, with
Minnesota owning the best when Mikko Koivu slid a no-look pass from
the right circle to defenseman Nick Schultz, who deked Giguere to
get the puck in the crease with an open net. But Avs defenseman Jan
Hejda extended his stick at the last moment to deflect the puck
wide at 14:22 of the second period.
"Our power play has to deliver in the third period," Sacco
said. "It wasn't good enough at that point. We have to step up. We
have good players out there and we didn't get it done."
Schultz, who skated in his Wild-record 700th game, joined Yeo
and Backstrom in praising a young defensive corps that helped kill
all three power plays. Minnesota had to shuffle the deck on its
blue line with Marek Zidlicky and Marco Scandella out with
concussions. Wild defenseman Kris Fredheim made his NHL debut and
played 10 minutes. He was called up from Houston of the AHL on
"A lot of these guys have played for Mike before and had
success down in the minors," Schultz said. "They've kind of
bought into the system and had success. I think that's why they've
fit in so well."
Minnesota has won four straight at home for the first time since
Jan. 23-Feb. 6, 2010. The Wild tied a franchise mark with 25 points
through 19 games, a record set in the 2008-09 season.
Minnesota Lynx All-Star guard Lindsay Whalen, fresh off
the first WNBA championship of her eight-year career, made the
customary "Let's Play Hockey" call before the game. ... Avs RW
Brandon Yip made his season debut after recovering from a broken
forearm. ... RW Chuck Kobasew, who signed a two-year deal with
Colorado after playing most of the last two seasons with the Wild,
was scratched for the first time this season.