By Bruce Brothers
Updated: 11/07/2010 12:55:53 AM CDT
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jose Theodore picked up right where Niklas Backstrom left off.
Backstrom, who made 36 saves in a 1-0 win over San Jose on Tuesday night and 33 saves in a 2-1 win over Calgary Friday night, got a night off as Theodore posted 35 saves in the Wild's 3-2 win over the Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
Minnesota needed another outstanding performance in the nets, especially in the second period when Columbus outshot the Wild 16-3 but Theodore made 15 saves.
"What I really like is we didn't panic," he said. "We probably played our best period, the third period, which is showing that we're really maturing and we're playing with lots of confidence right now."
Backstrom, who worked 11 of Minnesota's first 12 games and stopped 338 of 358 shots, was OK Friday night with the plan of getting to watch.
"It's up to the coaches; I don't know what's going on," Backstrom said after giving up only a power-play goal to the Flames at the Xcel Energy Center.
Coach Todd Richards, who indicated Thursday he expected to use Theodore against the Blue Jackets, had no second thoughts despite Backstrom's back-to-back performances that lowered his goals-against average to 1.80 and hiked his save percentage to .941.
"Nik's been seeing a lot of pucks, and he's been working really hard," Richards said. "And Theodore played well in Vancouver for us. I'm excited to see him play again because he had a great first game in Vancouver; we just didn't play very well in front of him."
Theodore, acquired just before the season after backup goalie Josh Harding suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, stopped 30 of 35 shots in a 5-1 loss to the Canucks, Minnesota's worst loss of the season.
But he was in top form Saturday, beginning with a sliding save when the Blue Jackets' Rick Nash set up Derick Brassard alone in front of him barely a minute into the first period. The Wild were about even in play in the first period, sagged in the second and came back to deliver the knockout punch in the third, thanks to Theodore.
"A bookend game," Richards said. "I thought we played a really good first period and played a really good third period, and in between, in the second period, we made some mistakes. That's where Theo was great."
These photos were from warm-ups at the previous game against San Jose. But since I hadn't found them until today, I thought I'd add them in here.