Wild gets back on track; shut outs Blue Jackets
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Niklas Backstrom made 24 saves, and newcomer Jason Pominville had a goal and an assist to help the Minnesota Wild snap a three-game losing streak with a 3-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night.
The Wild, coming off their first shutout loss of the season — 3-0 at Los Angeles on Thursday — got better as the game progressed on both ends of the ice.
Ryan Suter’s wrist shot in traffic started the scoring, and Charlie Coyle benefited from a perfect pass from Mikael Granlund as the Wild netted two power-play goals in the second period.
Backstrom and his staunch defense did the rest until Pominville scored late off a tape-to-tape pass from Zach Parise. Backstrom earned his second shutout of the season and 28th of his NHL career.
Pominville, acquired this week from Buffalo, earned his first points with Minnesota.
Marian Gaborik, acquired by the Blue Jackets in a multiplayer deal with the New York Rangers at Wednesday’s trade deadline, was greeted by several signs in the crowd as he made his debut at home.
The Wild weren’t nearly so welcoming.
It was a turnaround win for Minnesota, which had lost three in a row and four of five since a seven-game winning streak. The Wild scored only three goals in the three-game skid. Minnesota had also lost three straight on the road.
This defeat was extremely costly to Columbus, which is four points behind eighth-place Detroit in the West.
Now the Blue Jackets have little wiggle room with just nine games remaining in the regular season — including six on the road.
They came in having earned points in 16 of 19 games (11-3-5) and riding a four-game winning streak at home. Since their previous regulation home loss on March 7, they had gone 9-0-3 at Nationwide Arena.
The Wild came in ranked eighth in the NHL in road power plays and connected twice with the advantage Sunday.
After a scoreless first period, the Wild made the most of a hooking penalty on Blake Comeau, who was playing his first home game for the Blue Jackets after being acquired from Calgary for a fifth-round pick.
Suter took a drop pass from Pominville, and Suter tucked a hard wrister from the high slot inside the far post through heavy congestion in front. It was the fourth goal of the season for Suter, a big-ticket free agent last summer.
Columbus’ Vinny Prospal was called for hooking later in the period, and the Wild cycled the puck while the Blue Jackets tried in vain to clear it.
Granlund slid a backdoor pass from the right wing to Coyle, who had slipped to the left doorstep for a jam shot that made it 2-0 at 15:03.
Backstrom was solid when needed. The Wild killed off four penalties, although Backstrom was at his best on even-strength threats. He gloved a hard one-timer by Jack Johnson midway through the first, stymied R.J. Umberger on a rush in the third, and turned aside Cam Atkinson’s blast in transition in the final minutes.
Pominville then scored off a 2-on-1 lead pass from Parise with 1:25 remaining.
Notes: Columbus D James Wisniewski caught a skate to the leg in the second period and made it to the bench with some difficulty. He returned in the third. ... Minnesota, which solidified its playoff spot heading into the final three weeks, ended a streak of five games in which it had allowed the first goal. ... Sergei Bobrovsky had 21 saves for the Blue Jackets. ... The Wild have 10 games remaining, including six at home.