The same form which Calgary Flames goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff showed in the medal round of the recent Winter Olympics, was shown again on Wednesday night in the Pengrowth Saddledome against the Minnesota Wild.
With a similar result.
Niklas Backstrom, who bailed out Kiprusoff in that semi-final Finnish loss to the USA, made 29 saves as the Wild defeated the Flames 4-0 in front of 19,289 booing and jeering patrons, the third win of the season for the Wild versus the Flames, and their second straight in an arena which, until this season, has traditionally been a house of horrors.
Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette each tallied a goal and an assist, and Martin Havlat and Kyle Brodziak also chipped in as the Wild moved to 66 points, 4 behind eighth-place Detroit. Owen Nolan, rumored to be on the trade block until Wednesday's trade deadline, also chipped in an assist, setting up Brodziak on a textbook give-and-go which beat Kiprusoff for what would be the game winning goal.
Two defensemen -- Brent Burns and Cam Barker, Barker playing his second game for the Wild following his Feb. 12 trade from Chicago for Kim Johnsson -- each were a +3 for the night, as the Wild closed to within four points of eighth-place Detroit for the final playoff spot in the NHL Western Conference. But with the schedule featuring match-ups of teams the Wild must get ahead of playing each other, night after night, one must pose the question:
Is it too little, too late?