DENVER (AP) — Niklas Backstrom had 37 saves for his third shutout of the season and 25th of his NHL career, and Greg Zanon scored in the Minnesota Wild’s 1-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
Jean-Sebastian Giguere had 20 saves for Colorado, which has lost four straight and continued to struggle at home against Minnesota. The Wild are 10-1-2 in their last 13 visits to Denver. Backstrom is 9-1-2 in those games.
Zanon gave the Backstrom the only goal he needed on the Wild’s first shot of the game. After an icing by Colorado, Kyle Brodziak won the faceoff to Dany Heatley, who slid the puck to Zanon. Zanon moved to the center of the zone before sending a shot through traffic that beat Giguere with 13:56 left in the first period. It was Zanon’s second goal of the season.
Backstrom made it stand up, but Colorado didn’t make it easy in the third period. The Avalanche, desperate to score the tying goal, recorded 17 shots in the final frame. Ryan Wilson hit the post with 15 minutes left when Colorado was swarming in the Minnesota end.
Giguere went to the bench for an extra skater with 1:46 left. The Avalanche got their first power play 26 seconds later, but managed only two shots.
The game became physical and chippy in the second period. Colorado forward Cody McLeod fought Clayton Stoner moments after Stoner’s teammate Darroll Powe leveled David Van Der Gulik with a blindside hit. Later in the period, Avalanche forward Chuck Kobasew and Carson McMillan fought after McMillan hit Kobasew with a shot to the head.
The teams traded scoring chances in the period, but neither broke through. Colorado had 10 shots in the second and nearly scored on Jay McClement’s sliding chance in the final minute.
Minnesota came back, but the Wild were denied by Giguere’s great save. After making the initial stop on Brodziak, Giguere was knocked down when the Wild center was checked into him. Cal Clutterbuck sent the rebound toward the top of the net, but Giguere got a glove on the puck at the last moment and sent it over the crossbar.
NOTES: Avalanche LW Gabriel Landeskog had his four-game point streak snapped. … Colorado’s Milan Hejduk has 48 points in 62 career games against Minnesota. His 12 power-play goals are the most against the Wild. … Avalanche coach Joe Sacco has been stuck on 99 career wins for four games.
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