Nicklas Backstrom backstops Wild to a 2-1 win over the Stars

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The teams went to a shootout for the third time in four games this season, with Minnesota earning the 2-1 victory on Tuesday night to avoid a sweep by the Stars and climb within two points of sixth-place Dallas in the Western Conference. Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout and Mikko Koivu scored on a backhander to the top right corner to give the Wild its league-leading 10th shootout and 15th overtime victory this season.

"It feels good to beat them," Backstrom said. "The important thing is for the team to know that we can beat these guys. But the biggest thing in all is the points we got."

Minnesota, which ended its longest winless streak against any team after going 0-3-3 in its last six contests with Dallas, outshot the Stars 39-24 - including 16-6 in the second period.

Marty Turco, who has been battling the flu, took the loss for Dallas despite 38 saves in regulation and overtime, while Backstrom earned his first win against the Stars this season after going 0-1-2 in the previous three contests. Turco had not faced as many as 39 shots since October 15 at Anaheim.

"I felt focused despite being a quart down," Turco said. "But it's not an issue. I've played through a lot worse."

After a scoreless first period and several good scoring chances for both sides, Minnesota's first goal was set up by Marion Gaborik and Demitra - who combined for 15 goals and 30 points in the Wild's previous nine games. The countrymen found themselves in a 2-on-1 break and Gaborik missed wide right after getting a late pass from his teammate. But Stars defenceman Philippe Boucher sent the puck sailing into the seats and earned a two-minute delay of game minor.

On it's third power play of the evening, Minnesota needed only 12 seconds to take advantage of a Turco miscue.

Brian Rolston dumped the puck in and Turco decided to give chase behind the net. Turco was hit from behind by Koivu, who managed to tap the puck away and bounce it in front of the net - where Rolston was waiting to bury his team-leading 26th goal of the season.

"He plays a lot of pucks out there," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. "When you do have a blip like that everybody talks about it, but for every one of those he has probably 200 times he touches and does a good thing with it."

But Minnesota's lead was short-lived, as Dallas left-winger Niklas Hagman got behind Wild defenceman Kurtis Foster and put what had been a dump-in by Jussi Jokinen past a sprawling Backstrom just 39 seconds later. Defenceman Jaroslav Modry was credited with the second assist.

"The one mistake we made was in the net," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "They had scoring chances, but they had to create them. The goal they got, we just gave it to them."

But Minnesota maintained momentum - outshooting the Stars 14-7 in the third period and overtime - to keep Dallas off the scoreboard and force the shootout.

Koivu's shootout winner came after Turco stopped Pavol Demitra and Brian Rolston, while Backstrom turned away shots by Sergei Zubov, Jussi Jokinen and Mike Ribeiro.

Notes: Dallas C Eric Lindros missed his fourth straight game with a lower body injury. ... Wild D Petteri Nummelin was a healthy scratch for the third straight contest. ... Demitra failed to extend his season-high points streak to 10 games, which would have tied the club record set by Andrew Brunette in March of 2002. ... Former Stars forward Brett Hull worked his first game as a colour commentator for the FSNSW television broadcast.



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