Niklas Backstrom was in fine form as the Minnesota Wild downed the St. Louis Blues 3-1 Wednesday in the last preseason game at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild's goaltender stopped 33 shots with the only blemish being a deflected shot from the blue line by Jaden Schwartz midway through the third period.
The Wild got on the board first when Matt Cooke's shot from the blue line deflected up into the air off Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak and landed behind him. The puck found its way into the net when Blues defenseman Ryan Whitney tried to knock the puck away from the goal line, but instead shot it off the back of Halak's leg. Kyle Brodziak started the play at the Blues blue line with a pass across the ice to a streaking Cooke.
Charlie Coyle extended the Wild's lead with a beautiful forehand to backhand to forehand breakaway goal. He was sprung on a long pass through center from Ryan Suter.
Coyle has practically cemented his position as the team's second line center with his play in the preseason.
"I can't say anything negative about his camp," Mike Yeo said. "He's been outstanding."
Nearly two minutes later, Torrey Mitchell gave the Wild a three-goal lead by stealing the puck from Blues second goaltender Brian Elliott and wrapped it around the open net.
The Blues avoided the shutout when Jaden Schwartz ripped a slap shot from the blue line off Jason Pominville and through Backstrom midway through the third period.
The Wild got the goal back when Nino Niederreiter fired a shot on the power play past Elliott. However, the referees did not see it and there is no video review in the preseason. So the Wild's lead remained at two.
The Wild finish its preseason schedule Friday against the Blues at the Scottrade Center.
No. 3 – Charlie Coyle. The Wild forward scored a goal.
No. 2 – Torrey Mitchell. The Wild forward recorded a goal and assist.
No. 1 – Niklas Backstrom. The Wild goaltender stopped 33 shots.
St. Louis..…..0 0 1 – 1
Minnesota…..1 0 2 – 3
First Period – 1, Minnesota, Cooke (Brodziak, Mitchell), 12:27. Penalties – Steen, STL (interference), 6:29; Brodin, MIN (hooking), 14:10; Parise, MIN (holding the stick), 19:06.
Second Period – None. Penalties – Shattenkirk, STL (delay of game-puck over glass), 16:40.
Third Period – 2, Minnesota, Coyle (Suter, Heatley) :38. 3, Minnesota, Mitchell (Ballard), 2:46 (sh). 4, St. Louis, Schwartz (unassisted), 9:30 (sh). Penalties – Koivu, MIN (hooking), 1:53; Lapierre, STL (holding) 8:50; Bouwmeester, STL (holding), 10:04.
Shots on goal – St. Louis 14-10-10 34. Minnesota 8-10-5 23.
Goalies – St. Louis, Halak (12-13), Elliott (8-10). Minnesota, Backstrom (33-34). Referees – Steve Kozari, Dan O'Halloran. Linesmen – Brian Mach, Thor Nelson.