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Backlund, Flames beat Wild in OT for fifth straight win

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The Canadian Press
2/2/2014 12:49:19 AM
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CALGARY -- Mikael Backlund scored twice, including the winner, as the Calgary Flames edged the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in overtime on Saturday.

Backlund took the puck to the net and sent a pass to Sean Monahan, who's shot was stopped by Wild netminder Darcy Kuemper. The puck, however, bounced into the air and Backlund batted it down and past Kuemper at 2:25 of extra time.

It's Calgary's fifth straight victory and also completes a perfect 5-0-0 homestand. The last time the Flames swept a homestand of that length was in 1997 - Jarome Iginla's rookie season.

TJ Galiardi, with his first goal in 38 games, and Dennis Wideman also scored for Calgary (21-27-7), which last won five games in a row in March 2012.

Mark Giordano had two assists to extend his career-high point streak to nine games, which includes four goals and six assists.

Matt Cooke, Dany Heatley and Keith Ballard scored for Minnesota (29-21-7).

Trailing 3-1 halfway through the third period, the Wild drew to within one on Dany Heatley's power-play goal at 10:31.

Ballard then silenced the Scotiabank Saddledome sell-out crowd of 19,289 with the tying goal at 15:55.

On a Minnesota rush, Ballard got caught up with Wideman as he drove the net. With Wideman tangled up with goaltender Reto Berra, Ballard backed away just in time to one-time a centring pass from Kyle Brodziak into the top corner.

It was back on Oct. 4 in the Flames second game of the season in Columbus when Galiardi, acquired in an off-season trade with San Jose, scored his first goal as a Flame. Little did the Calgary native know at the time it would take nearly four months for him to score again.

However, he did make it a beauty when he finally ended the drought at 12:36 of the first period to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.

After getting a pass from Kevin Westgarth, Galiardi spun and quickly sent a backhand into the top corner. Immediately, the 25-year-old looked skywards in a show of both relief and shock that he finally scored.

That lead would hold up until 14:03 of the second period when Cooke tied it for the Wild while shorthanded. Cooke burst down the left wing and from just inside the top of the face-off circle blasted a slapshot over the shoulder of Berra.

Berra did not start the game for the Flames. He entered with 2:28 left in the first period when Karri Ramo left with a lower-body injury.

The Flames regained the lead with 1:36 left in the second on a nifty deflection from Wideman.

Shortly after failing to score on a power play, Chris Butler fired a shot from the blue-line that Wideman redirected thigh-high from the high slot and past Kuemper.

Calgary surged in front 3-1 one minute into the third period when Backlund finished off a three-on-one for the Flames. The shorthanded goal was the third of the season for Backlund, moving him into a tie for second in the NHL behind Boston's Brad Marchand.

While most of the season has seen Calgary equally divide up the starts between Ramo and Berra, Ramo (11-10-4) had been the better of the two in recent weeks and had been getting the majority of the playing time with Saturday being his sixth start in the last seven contests.

Berra had 14 saves to improve to 7-14-2. He has yet to win in regulation, with four shootout victories and Saturday being his third overtime win.

Kuemper made his 10th straight start in net for the Wild. He had 28 saves to fall to 6-4-1.

Notes: The Flames final three games before the Olympic break will be on the road beginning in Montreal on Tuesday... Minnesota plays twice at home before its break begins... The Flames have eight shorthanded goals, which is second in the NHL behind Carolina (9)... Flames D Kris Russell (upper body) did not play. Taking his spot was Chris Breen, who played for the first time since being recalled from Abbotsford (AHL) on Jan. 26.

Backlund, Giordano celebrate (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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