The Minnesota Wild got things back on track Saturday night with a 4-3 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings, and accomplished an impressive feat in the tiebreaker. The Wild went three-for-three in the shootout to get the win, only the second time in the 2013 season any team has been able to do so. Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Matt Cullen all scored while Niklas Backstrom turned aside one of the two Kings’ shooters he faced in his return to action after getting a much-needed night off.
The Wild gave Backstrom Friday night off, letting him stay in Minnesota while the team traveled to face the Dallas Stars. The Wild took a 5-3 loss as Matt Hackett struggled in his first start of the season, but Backstrom’s performance Saturday suggested that the night off was not only well deserved but well worth it in the big picture. The veteran netminder is now 19-7-2 on the season with a 2.34 goals-against average. His 19 wins lead the entire league and have helped him already match his total from last season. The Wild play like a better team when he is in net, and Backstrom is playing like a goaltender who is eager to reach the playoffs for just the third time in his career.
Cullen, Parise and rookie Charlie Coyle scored in regulation for the Wild, while Backstrom turned aside 28 shots. The Wild have now won eight of nine games and were able to jump the Vancouver Canucks (who lost to the Edmonton Oilers) for the Northwest Division lead and the third spot in the Western Conference standings. They face another big test on Monday when they host a St. Louis Blues team that currently sits eighth in the conference.