Niklas Backstrom admitted he's still not feeling 100 percent, but things sure didn't look that way on Saturday night.
After suffering from a sprained knee, the Minnesota netminder returned to the ice for his first full game since Oct. 8 and stopped 33 shots as the Wild went on to record a 5-3 victory over the Blackhawks.
Backstrom's return came perhaps a bit early as backup goaltender Josh Harding remains day-to-day with a lower-body strain. But the injury wasn't his focus; getting a win was.
"I try to address every game the same way," Backstrom said following Minnesota's victory. "It doesn't matter what happens, you go out there and try to play your best and help your team, your teammates when they need you.
"You can't really hide behind any excuses, you just try to be there for the guys and find a way to play the best you can."
The Blackhawks came out strong in the first couple minutes of Saturday's game as the top line fired a few early shots Backstrom's way. But it didn't take long for the Wild to find their groove as Zach Parise's early power-play goal gave Minnesota the early boost they were looking for.
The defending Stanley Cup champions created a few good chances to catch back up, but it was Backstrom who stopped the Blackhawks' opportunity for a shift in momentum.
"(The Blackhawks) definitely made a push and played well in the second… but I think when they had some good opportunities, (Backstrom) made some unreal saves. A couple point-blanks, a breakaway from (Patrick) Sharp, he kept us in there," forward Jason Pominville said after scoring two of his team's five goals.
"I think overall it was a good team effort."
But Saturday night was just the beginning for the Blackhawks and Wild. Both teams will head to Minnesota where they will face off again on Monday night.
The Wild were happy after their win, but they say they can only celebrate for so long.
"It's a big win, but (the Blackhawks are) a really good team. We know we have to be ready on Monday," Backstrom said. "We can enjoy this from today and learn things from tonight to be better on Monday because that's what (the Blackhawks) always do, they step up the next game."