Backstrom, Wild blank Blues

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By Anthony Maggio

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) -- Niklas Backstrom recorded his

third shutout of the season and Eric Belanger and Andrew

Brunette netted milestone goals as the Minnesota Wild topped the

St. Louis Blues, 4-0, on Wednesday.

Belanger started the scoring with his 100th career goal and

Brunette netted his 200 tally as Minnesota won for the third

time in its last four games.

Defenseman Marek Zidlicky scored his fourth goal of the season

and Antti Miettinen added an empty-netter for the Wild, who have

scored 20 goals in their last four contests. Zidlicky and

Belanger each notched an assist while defenseman Marc-Andre

Bergeron collected two.

Backstrom was coming off a terrible performance in which he

allowed six goals in two periods against Colorado on Monday and

had just two wins in his previous six starts. But the Finn was

sharp in this contest, notching his first shutout since November

13.

"I felt embarrassed how I played on Monday," Backstrom said.

"It was nice to go out there and show that you were not that

bad."

Playing behind the NHL's best defense, Backstrom made 22 saves.

He turned aside eight shots in the first period, nine more in

the second and five in the third for his 12th career blanking.

"He was back the way he was," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said of

his netminder. "The last game there, like I said, was not his

fault. They had some great shots and he had no help at all.

But tonight, he was good. Made the saves that he had to to keep

us in the game."

"Every goalie who goes out there, you want to stop every puck

every night, but it's not always possible," Backstrom said. "I

think it's more for the team to show that they battled hard and

played a good game. No goalie gets a shutout by himself. You

need all the guys helping you, and they helped me really well

today."

Counterpart Chris Mason entered having allowed just four goals

on his previous 134 shots faced and with a three-game winning

streak.

But after keeping St. Louis in the game through two periods,

Mason surrendered a pair of power-play goals early in the third

as the Blues lost for the third time in four games. He finished

with 34 saves.

"They put a lot of pucks on net and they were driving the net

very well," Mason said. "We knew it was going to be a tough

game after that last game that we had there. They definitely

came out flying."

After a scoreless first period, Belanger tallied at 10:28 of the

second. He was able to gather the puck, fight off Alex Steen

with his body and sneak a backhander over Mason's left shoulder.

"It's a game-winning goal, so it's fun," Belanger said of

reaching his milestone. "I felt (Steen) all the way. I just

thought, 'I'm going to get a shot and see what happens,' and it

went in."

Brunette doubled the advantage at 2:54 of the third period and

Zidlicky added his fourth goal of the season less than 2 1/2

minutes later, when his one-timer from the top of the left

faceoff circle beat Mason.

"Right from the beginning of that (second) period, they were

much more assertive than we were and played in our zone," Blues

coach Andy Murray said. "When you're playing in your own zone,

you have a tendency to take some penalties, and that's what we

did."

Miettinen was credited with a goal with 28 seconds remaining,

when he was shoved from behind while skating toward an empty

net.

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