February 19, 2012

Backstrom stops 48 as Wild blank Bruins

By Jesse Connolly

Final: Minnesota 2, Boston 0

Recap: After a scoreless first period that saw Boston generate the lion’s share of quality chances, the Wild struck twice in the middle frame. Chad Rau scored his second NHL goal and veteran Matt Cullen pushed the lead to two with a power play tally with 4:30 left in the period.

In the third, the Bruins outshot Minnesota 22-3 yet couldn’t put anything past Niklas Backstrom. Backstrom finished the night with 48 saves, earning the shutout to send the Black and Gold to their second straight loss.

Records: Minnesota 26-24-9, 61 points; Boston 35-20-2, 72 points

Key Play of the Game: In the first period, Dan Paille – though never known for his scoring touch – had two breakaways and could’ve gotten Boston off on the right foot. But Backstrom stoned him on both efforts, setting the tone for the matinee.

Connolly’s Commendations: Kudos to Shawn Thornton for trying to get his ‘mates going in the third period. No. 22 dropped the gloves 2:15 into the final frame and took some pretty hard jabs from Matt Kassian, leaving him with cuts on his forehead. But Thornton hung in there until the very end. If only the moment had gone to good use.

Patrice Bergeron did his usual part and crushed anyone that squared off with him at the dot, winning 16-of-21 faceoffs.

Connolly’s Critiques: Claude Julien kept Greg Campbell down the middle on the fourth line despite its addition of center Josh Hennessy. The move didn’t pay dividends on Sunday, as Campbell won just 4-of-14 faceoffs.

After scoring in Friday’s loss to Winnipeg, Jordan once again disappeared back into the woodwork. The winger had an entirely blank line on the score-sheet with no shots, blocks, hits or anything of substance in 9:10 of ice time.

Notes: The Bruins have now been blanked in four of their last nine games. Only two minor penalties were assessed with one going to each club.

Final Thoughts: In this scribe’s eyes, Boston’s 48-shot total was both encouraging and deceiving. Throughout majority of the contest, the quality opportunities were just so few and far between. Because of that, the Black and Gold have now lost seven of their last 11 contests.

Next: The B’s will look to end their two-game skid when they take on the Blues on Wednesday night.