Roughly 18,000 Wild fans came to see their team clinch the Northwest Division at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Thursday night.
The Wild didn’t disappoint.
Led by Marion Gaborik’s two goals and three points, Niklas Backstrom’s 26 saves, and a defense that shut down Calgary’s Jarome Iginla, the Wild clinched the division for the first time in team history.
Playing for their playoff lives, Calgary came out strong. The Wild found themselves down quickly in the first period as Daymond Langkow scored at 2:41 on a power play on an easy put-in into an open net with Backstrom on his stomach.
But that was all Calgary could muster.
The Wild quickly answered with a power play goal of their own at 5:54 in the first and went ahead for good at 1:11 in the third period on a great move by Gaborik on a breakaway around an unprepared defenseman.
Gaborik added a cushion at 13:11 on a slapshot from the middle through traffic.
For most of the rest of the third period the Wild played keep away from Calgary as the Xcel grew louder. Gaborik narrowly missed a hat trick when he missed an open net with less than two minutes to play, but the damage was done.
The Wild had a two-goal lead, and Calgary never had a good scoring opportunity after Gaborik scored the game’s final goal.
Calgary’s Iginla has had great games against the wild all season, including one hat trick on March 23, but was denied his 50th goal of the season. He was usually covered by two or three green jerseys when he was near the puck and thus was forced to take his four shots on goal from wide angles.
(Photo taken by Bobak Ha'Eri, retrieved from the Wikimedia Commons.)
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