Wild get better of Lightning

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Niklas Backstrom rebounded from a rough game and an early exit with 32 saves, and the Minnesota Wild stopped a two-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night.

Steven Stamkos scored again for the Lightning, but Cal Clutterbuck’s short-handed goal and Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s go-ahead score in the second period gave the Wild all the offense they needed. Mikko Koivu had an assist and an empty-net goal to pad the lead in a quick, clean game that featured only four penalties.

Stamkos has nine goals in 11 games and four goals in his last four games.

Backstrom improved to 5-1-1 in his career against the Lightning.

CAPITALS: Washington general manager George McPhee says he fired Bruce Boudreau because “players were no longer responding” to the coach.

McPhee says Monday’s switch to former Capitals captain Dale Hunter was needed because Boudreau “pushed every button he could” but the team has lost six of its last eight games.

Boudreau won 200 games faster than any coach in modern NHL history but stumbled regularly in the playoffs despite a talent-laden lineup featuring two-time league MVP Alex Ovechkin.

Hired four years ago on Thanksgiving Day, Boudreau went 201-88-40 in the regular season but 17-20 in the playoffs. This season he tried emphasizing accountability and benching star players, including team captain Ovechkin.

HURRICANES: Last-place Carolina brought in former All-Star Kirk Muller to replace Paul Maurice as coach. This is the second time Maurice has been dismissed by the club.

Muller takes over a team that has lost 10 of its last 13 games to drop to the bottom of the Southeast Division.

This is Muller’s first NHL head coaching job.

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