Edmonton at Minnesota

Wild's Demitra, Gaborik get behind Backstrom for shutout No. 2


ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Pavol Demitra got his first goal and first assist of the young season, and then he did a little politicking.

Demitra and Marian Gaborik picked up their play after two sluggish games, and Niklas Backstrom made 21 saves for his second shutout of the season in unbeaten Minnesota's 2-0 victory over Edmonton on Wednesday.

Mikko Koivu centered Demitra and Gaborik on the first line, a combination that was to everyone's liking. Gaborik had two assists, and he and Demitra -- his fellow Slovakian star -- recorded their first points after going without any in the first two games.

"I hope they're just going to keep him there for the rest of the season," Demitra said, adding: "We just need a couple games, and he can learn. Just see how Jacques is going to react tomorrow."

Demitra finished that sentence with a shrug, because he knows his coach is always tinkering with his lines. Finding a center to mesh with Demitra and Gaborik is one of this team's biggest issues this season, and Koivu was the latest choice. Wes Walz returned from a knee injury that kept him out of the last game and skated with them for the early part of the game. Rookie James Sheppard was even spotted skating with Gaborik at times.

"I'm trying to find chemistry. I'm trying to find lines that can go against anyone. I just don't want the other team to take over," Lemaire said.

Brent Burns also scored for the Wild, who have won three times at home and start a stretch of four straight games on the road this weekend.

Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson stopped 24 shots against his former team, but he fell to 3-7-1 in 11 career starts against Minnesota. He shared the net with Manny Fernandez for the Wild from 2001-06.

"They keep it simple, and they're successful at it. We had some opportunities and some breaks we weren't able to capitalize on," Roloson said.

Playing their usual tight defense with Backstrom as sharp as ever between the pipes, the Wild have given up just two goals in three games.

Backstrom called his blue line "awesome" and tried to downplay his success - as usual. He is 5-0-0 with three straight shutouts against Edmonton.

"We made it pretty easy for him tonight," Oilers center Shawn Horcoff said. "I don't think we battled too hard in front of the net. All we forced him to do really was make that first save."

Though the Oilers won their first two games, their struggles have carried over from a miserable finish to last season that landed them in last place in the Northwest Division and tied for 12th in the 15-team Western Conference.

They didn't sit still over the summer, either, adding defenseman Sheldon Souray and Joni Pitkanen and wings Geoff Sanderson and Dustin Penner. But Souray, coming off a career-best 64-point season, has only one assist. Captain Ethan Moreau hasn't played since bruising his ankle in an exhibition game last month. And Edmonton has not scored yet on the power play, in 16 opportunities.

A postgame question about that from a television reporter set Oilers coach Craig MacTavish off.

"Are you just going to point out the negatives every time here?" MacTavish said.

Midway through the first period, Gaborik sent the puck out from behind the net and Demitra tipped it into the right circle where Walz whiffed on a quick shot attempt. With Edmonton's attention focused on the forwards, Burns was all alone near the blue line for zinger of a slap shot that beat Roloson and gave the Wild the lead.

In the second period, Gaborik's centering pass for Koivu came loose and was knocked across the crease behind Roloson's back. Demitra was there to poke it in.

"We weren't as determined in front of the net as we needed to be at times, but I was really happy with the game. I thought we played pretty well," MacTavish said.


  • Sheppard, the Wild's first-round draft pick in 2006, made his NHL debut. The native of Nova Scotia missed the first two games while he waited for his work visa. He replaced Dominic Moore, who strained an abdominal muscle in Tuesday's practice.
  • Oilers defenseman Tom Gilbert and Wild right wing Mark Parrish went to the same high school, Bloomington Jefferson, about 20 miles from Xcel Energy Center.
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Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom shuts out Edmonton again after doing so twice in 2006-07.  (AP)
Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom shuts out Edmonton again after doing so twice in 2006-07. (AP)
Edmonton (2-2-0)0000
Minnesota  (3-0-0) «1102
Three Stars
P. Demitra

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
N. Backstrom

Saves: 21
Save Pct.: 1.000
B. Burns

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0

Related Video

Scoring Summary
12:22Brent Burns (2), Slap Shot. Assist: Marian Gaborik, Pavol Demitra
07:48Pavol Demitra (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Mikko Koivu, Marian Gaborik
Penalty Summary
02:09Foster, 2 min, High sticking
05:13Sheppard, 2 min, Hooking
15:02Johnsson, 2 min, Delay of Game
18:07Sanderson, 2 min, Hooking
16:15Skoula, 2 min, Interference
Dwayne Roloson57:45242
Niklas Backstrom59:48210
Game Information
Attendance - 18568
Referees - Tim Peel, Kevin Pollock
Linesmen - Derek Nansen, Brian Mach
Other Games
NYR 1 Final
SJ 2 Final
Chi 1
LA 1 Final
Dal 5
Pho 0 Final
Colu 3
Fla 1 Final
TB 2
Cal 2 Final
Det 4
Nash 1 Final
StL 4
Phi 8 Final
Van 2
Ott 3 Final
Atl 1
Bos 1 Final
Ana 2
Mon 3 Final
Pitt 2