Cal Clutterbuck, Niklas Backstrom to Start for Minnesota Wild Tonight


Mar 25, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom (32) knocks the puck away from Dallas Stars left wing Ray Whitney (13) during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

According to Chris Miller of the Star Tribune, both Cal Clutterbuck and Niklas Backstrom will be in the lineup tonight for the Minnesota Wild.

Clutterbuck, who was injured in the first period of Monday night’s matchup with the Dallas Stars, came back to lead the team to victory—notching two assists and setting up Kyle Brodziak’s game-winning shorthanded goal late in the third. Seen limping badly after the game, the Minnesota Wild fan favorite was considered questionable for tonight’s game against Phoenix. He’ll take his place on the gritty, yet deadly third line with Brodziak and former two-time 50-goal scorer Dany Heatley. On returning to the game and playing a vital role in his team’s win, Clutterbuck said after this morning’s skate, “I couldn’t walk very well, but I thought I’d throw on the skates and see how it went, and I could skate ok”.

Niklas Backstrom will once again be in net tonight, starting his 12th straight game for the Minnesota Wild. After being named the NHL’s second start of the week on Monday, Backstrom allowed four goals on 26 shots in a 7-4 victory against the Stars in Dallas. It’s not that he was terrible, but you can tell he’s being worked hard with his normal backup, Josh Harding, out with medical issues, and his rotating backup a combo of youngsters Matt Hackett and Darcy Kuemper. The best goaltender in franchise history has been more than up to the challenge, however—posting a 14-3-1 record in his past 18 games and an NHL second-best 17 wins on the season.

After tonight, Backstrom should get a break as the team travels once again to Dallas for a game on Friday night. Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher will likely call up Matt Hackett to join Kuemper and the team in Dallas, giving his No. 1 netminder an extra day to rest up to face the defending Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings on Saturday night. He certainly could use the break and you can bet his Wild teammates believe it is well-deserved.