The moment Niklas Backstrom left the crease, you could hear a distinct "uh-oh" from the Wild faithful. All goalies have been there: A puck escapes the offensive zone and slides your way with an opposing player on the trail. Do you stand your ground and wait for the breakaway? Or do you gamble and try to beat that oncoming player to the puck? Backstrom chose the latter with the score tied with Nashville in the third period Tuesday night. He won the race. And then, he passed the puck right into Martin Erat's trousers. A few seconds later, the Predators' most skilled forward stuffed the puck into a wide-open net as three sprawling Wild players, including Backstrom, couldn't retreat in time. A power-play goal later, and the Predators skated off with a 3-1 victory to hand Minnesota its first loss in three games. "Rolling puck, so maybe I should have stayed and waited for the breakaway," Backstrom said. "But I got to the puck. I have to clear it out. I don't know. You start to think after that, 'Would you do it different?'" The Wild played a strong game defensively, giving up five shots in the first period and one shot in the first nine minutes of the third. But other than Dany Heatley's third goal of the season 6 minutes, 2 seconds into the game, the Wild couldn't beat Chris Mason again despite quality chances. The Wild would pay for the lack of finish. "At the end of the night, we did turn it into a bit of a 50-50 game, the type of game that allows a bounce to be the difference," coach Mike Yeo said. Moments before Backstrom's blunder with 8:15 left, Zach Parise and Jared Spurgeon misread each other in the offensive zone and Parise's errant pass rolled all the way to the Wild end. "I kind of misread what (Spurgeon) was doing," Parise said. "He was jumping in and I anticipated him staying back."
Niklas Backstrom's blunder leads to Wild's first loss
Boston Herald | Jan 23