CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Mikko Koivu had plenty of reasons to bask in the spotlight Monday night — his 500th NHL game, his game-winning goal in a shootout, a much-needed road win. The Minnesota captain preferred to stay humble.
The Wild, backed by 23 saves from Niklas Backstrom, won 2-1 over the Calgary Flames for their first win in five tries away from Xcel Energy Center.
"Sometimes you need good goaltending and tonight we got it," Koivu said. "More importantly, we got the win, especially the first road win for us."
Minnesota coach Mike Yeo had nothing but good things to say about Koivu.
"In a game like that, a guy who is an offensive player and his first thought, his first priority is still defense and making sure nothing gets in the back of our net," Yeo said. "To me that's what a guy like that should be recognized for. He's the kind of guy that you win hockey games with."
With each team having scored once in the shootout, Koivu sped in on Leland Irving and made a sharp move to his forehand to cleanly beat the Calgary goaltender.
Alex Tanguay was then stopped by the pad of Backstrom, sending the Flames to their eighth straight shootout defeat. The result came on the one-year anniversary of the last time Calgary won a shootout.
"Getting blown out in Vancouver and then we respond with an effort that could have been better. It's frustrating," said Calgary's Blair Jones, who shot first in the shootout and missed.
"I wish I would have scored," said Jones, who is 1-for-3 in his career. "I'm pretty angry at myself for not putting it in the back of the net and giving our team a chance to win."
Kyle Brodziak scored in regulation for Minnesota.
Jiri Hudler scored for Calgary, which opened a three-game homestand with the first in a stretch of six games in 10 days.
Backstrom improved his career mark against Calgary to 14-9-5 in 30 starts. He entered the night with a 1.91 goals-against average and .932 save percentage against the Flames.
"It's never easy. It seems like it's always a one-goal game," Backstrom said. "It's a fun building, a live building, a good crowd. It's fun to play, but it's always tough."
Unhappy with his team's efforts after a 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, Flames coach Bob Hartley completely retooled his lines. Among the changes, struggling captain Jarome Iginla opened the game on a line with Hudler on left wing and centered by recent AHL call-up Ben Street, who was playing his second career game.