ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Headed in opposite directions coming into the contest, few would have guessed the team that lost four straight would take down the division leader that had claimed five consecutive victories.
At least not so easily.
But the Minnesota Wild used first-period powerplays to overcome an early deficit and gain confidence, scored twice in the second period to take a comfortable lead, and didn't let up in the third to come away with a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames at the Xcel Energy Center last night.
Sort of a hockey version of the movie Freaky Friday, with the teams basically switching bodies for the night.
"The first minute was good. The next 59 weren't," said Flames winger Eric Nystrom, whose team had a 1-0 lead 1:34 into the game but quickly lost their grip. "We don't lose too many games when we score the first goal, but tonight we just didn't play well.
"They played well. They didn't give us much. They were getting pucks in behind our D, and they had a lot of energy -- and we didn't.
"It's tough. We had a good thing going. Tough loss."
Eric Belanger scored twice, and former Edmonton Oilers grinder Kyle Brodziak ended a 28-game goal drought with his sixth of the season as the Wild finally pulled ahead in the second period.
"We took a couple penalties and just kind of got on our heels," said defenceman Robyn Regehr. "They played well. They took the game to us, I thought, for most of the rest of the game (after the opening goal).
"We were a little sloppy. We weren't sharp as we normally are and we can be. They were desperate.
"They looked like a team that was very desperate and wanting a win."
The Flames might be in desperate need of some rest after playing seven games in 11 nights.
Brodziak's go-ahead goal 4:38 into the middle frame said it all about the kind of night they had in their second of back-to-back road contests.
Knuckling a lopsided one-timer toward the net, Brodziak's fluttering effort got past Jay Bouwmeester's swipe at the air and Miikka Kiprusoff's late stab at it with the pad.
Belanger padded the lead with his 11th of the season by out-racing Bouwmeester to a puck kicked into the zone by Owen Nolan and then roofing a backhander past Kiprusoff to make it 3-1 a little more than midway through the game.
Pest Cal Clutterbuck rubbed his irritating play in his opponents' faces all night long, then added a third-period goal to his list of accomplishments, tapping a pass from Brodziak into the net.
There was no pushing back from the Flames.
"Mentally, we weren't sharp tonight. Physically, we weren't involved like we need to be, either," said head coach Brent Sutter, who made no excuses for his team's performance. "We just didn't play well tonight.
"We just didn't have a push back tonight. "
The loss ended a five-game winning streak, and the Flames have now dropped both meetings with the Wild this season.
They get a split on the road after beating the Predators in Nashville Tuesday night, but no one was smiling in the visitors locker-room in St. Paul after last night's display.
"It's a disappointing way to finish the trip," said Sutter. "I know it was a two-game trip, but bottom line is we didn't play well tonight, let's face it.
"We just weren't sharp at all."