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Minnesota dominates Calgary 6-0

Niklas Backstrom

Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, of Finland, deflects a San Jose Sharks shot in the third period of an NHL hockey game in St. Paul, Minn., Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010. Minnesota beat San Jose 5-3. (AP Photo/Andy King)


Niklas Backstrom returned from a hip injury to do one of his favorite things tonight: beating the Calgary Flames. The Finnish netminder made 37 saves to shut out the Flames as two of tonight’s three games ended up being blowout-shutouts.

(To read a recap of the Rangers’ 7-0 win over the Maple Leafs and Marian Gaborik’s big night, click here. If you want to learn about R.J. Umberger’s even bigger night and the Blue Jackets come from behind win over the Panthers, go here.)

Minnesota 6, Calgary 0

Backstrom was the big star of the game, but Martin Havlat wasn’t far behind. He scored two goals (including the winner) and also provided an assist in a little less than 15 minutes of ice time. Cal Clutterbuck, John Madden and Chuck Kobasew scored a goal and assist each while Kyle Brodziak had three helpers.

Meanwhile Miikka Kiprusoff allowed six goals on 24 shots.

The Wild now find themselves just a point behind the Chicago Blackhawks for eighth place in the Western Conference, with only one win (and one less overtime/shootout loss) being what separates the two teams. If they keep playing like this, they’ll give the defending champions and many other West teams in contention a serious run for their money.