The Minnesota Wild lost their fifth straight game on Saturday night, falling 2-1 to the Calgary Flames in a contest with no playoff implications.
The Wild will play the Dallas Stars, who lead the Western Conference with 109 points, in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Minnesota’s 87 points are the lowest of any playoff team in the NHL’s decade-long shootout era.
“We need better at the end of the day,” captain Mikko Koivu told the Pioneer Press. “But I believe we can do it. From now on, it’s all for Game 1.”
“I don’t like to say, ‘one player this, one player that’ but we’ve got to have all 20 players going and that’s the bottom line,” interim coach John Torchetti told the Star Tribune. “We don’t have all 20 players going here.”
The silver lining for Wild fans is that, aside from the game having no playoff implications, they got to see Niklas Backstrom in what may be his final NHL game. The 38-year-old made 35 saves in the win.
“If this is the end,” he said with tears in his eyes after the game, “it was a great way to end.”
Backstrom came out of the tunnel at the end of the game to give one final salute to the fans in attendance. He touched his heart, kissed his hand and waved goodbye.
“Very special,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “It was a well-deserved reward for him. He was the only guy who kept us in the game.”
The Wild got on the board 13 minutes into the second period, with a Zac Dalpe backhander that Backstrom misplayed. But Brandon Bollig and Patrick Sieloff scored on Darcy Kuemper, who played the second half of the game, 35 seconds apart late in the third period to seal the game.
After the game Torchetti didn’t single one player out, but said that Minnesota needs all 20 players going. The Wild have been outscored 16-6 in their past five games after going on a six-game winning streak immediately before that. Saturday night, he wanted more guys in front of the net and yet again they did not listen to his instructions.
“It’s definitely frustrating because that’s a detail we have to do,” Torchetti told the Pioneer Press. “The teams that win championships have to do the details and make the adjustments. I was with Chicago. You ask Jonathan Toews to stand in front of the net, he stands in front of the net. Bottom line.”[Star Tribune, Pioneer Press]