Niklas Backstrom now has four shutouts this season and they haven’t come easy. This is the third time he’s silenced the opposition despite facing at least 37 shots through 60 minutes. Still, this was arguably his best performance of 2011-12 as Backstrom kicked out 48 Bruins shots, including 22 in the third period alone, to lead the Wild to a 2-0 victory over Boston.
Chad Rau scored his second career NHL goal in the second period and, as was the case with his first goal, it proved to be the game winner. Matt Cullen added some insurance with a power-play goal just 5:15 minutes later.
Tyler Seguin recorded six shots on goal, but he now has just three points in his last 10 games. Patrice Bergeron, who leads the Bruins in points, was one of just two Boston players to finish the game without a shot on goal. Between the pipes, Tim Thomas was unable to secure his 25th win of the season, but he did snap his three-start streak of allowing three goals per game.
This victory was desperately needed by the Minnesota Wild, who lost their previous seven contests. Minnesota has dropped to 12th place in the Western Conference and they’ll need to turn things around quickly if they want to make the playoffs. The Wild will get a three day breather before their scheduled contest against the Florida Panthers on Thursday. They’ll then play the Dallas Stars on Friday in a critical meeting between two teams trying to claw their way into the playoff race.
For the Boston Bruins, the Northeast Division title is there’s to lose, but they might do just that if they fail to break out of their current funk. Boston has now lost six of their last nine games. They’ll play in St. Louis on Wednesday and the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. They’ll follow that up with a key home-and-home series against their closest competitor in the division, the Ottawa Senators.