ST. PAUL, Minn. — During an awfully sluggish start by Minnesota, the Anaheim Ducks took full advantage.
They capitalized on a finish by the Wild that left plenty to be desired, too.
Rickard Rickell and Max Comtois scored in the shootout, and the Ducks fended off the Wild 3-2 on Tuesday night for their first win in their last six road games.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games lately and coming out on top of this one, it’s a huge deal for us,” Rakell said. “Just the environment, the feeling in the room.”
Rakell and Cam Fowler scored for the Ducks in a dominant first period during which they had a 14-1 advantage in shots on goal and Minnesota lost centre Eric Staal to an injury. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, whose team started 3-7, declared that their worst 20 minutes of the season.
“It's pretty embarrassing, and I told the guys that,” Boudreau said, adding: “Every time there was a competition for a puck, they came up with it.”
Ryan Hartman put the Wild on the board in the second. Ryan Donato tied the game early in third, when Zach Parise hustled behind the net to knock Ducks defenceman Josh Manson off the puck and set up his teammate in front of goalie John Gibson.
Donato had a breakaway early in overtime that Ryan Getzlaf thwarted with a tripping penalty, but the Wild failed to convert on the power play for the fifth time in the game and fell to 0 for 12 in their last four. The Ducks were even down a broken stick during the 4-on-3, but the Wild only put one shot on net.
“It doesn’t happen too often, but I think it’s something maybe we need to look at a little more to find our options a little bit,” Parise said.
Boudreau wouldn't buy that.
“Yeah, we need to practice it more, but there are things that happen 10 times a night that you have to be better at,” he said. “It’s not like, quite frankly, there was a first-year player on the ice.”
Gibson, who is 6-3-1 in 11 career starts against Minnesota, denied Parise in the shootout. Kevin Fiala went wide right with his attempt.
“We showed a lot of character in the third. I think we could have pulled out the win in overtime, but we stuck with it,” Comtois said.
The Wild started a three-game homestand that is their longest to date this season, after playing 20 of their first 30 games on the road, the most in the NHL in that span in 14 years. They are 7-1-3 at Xcel Energy Center, giving them confidence in a continuation of their recent surge once the schedule begins to balance out. Until losing 6-2 at Carolina on Saturday, the Wild went 8-0-3 in their previous 11 games for the second-longest point streak in franchise history.
The Ducks, in their first season under coach Dallas Eakins, were 3-8-4 in their previous 15 games. Their latest setback was a knee injury Friday to left wing Nick Ritchie that could keep him out for two months or more, though Manson returned from a 19-game absence due to a knee injury.
After losing consecutive 3-2 games to league-leading Washington on Friday and at Winnipeg on Sunday, the Ducks seized the lead barely three minutes in. Jakob Silfverberg snagged a rebound from Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen and slipped it across the crease to Rackell for his ninth goal of the season. Then about seven minutes later on a power play, Fowler zipped a one-timer through traffic that Kahkonen, screened by Ducks centre Adam Henrique, did not appear to see. The Wild have given up a power-play goal in nine of their last 10 games.
The evening began with a tribute to Wild captain Mikko Koivu for playing in his 1,000th career game on Dec. 1, pushing the faceoff back by about 10 minutes.
“These things can work for you and against you, when you have those ceremonies before the game,” Eakins said, adding: "Our guys were certainly ready to go."
Staal, who's tied for the team lead with 21 points, collided headfirst with linesman David Brisebois after chasing the puck along the boards and was down on the ice for a few minutes before slowly leaving with assistance for examination. The Wild were already missing three key players in Koivu, goalie Devan Dubnyk, and defenceman Jared Spurgeon.
NOTES: The Wild brought back former teammates Niklas Backstrom, Kyle Brodziak, Marian Gaborik and Nick Schultz for the ceremony as a surprise to the 36-year-old captain and centre. Koivu's parents, wife and three children were also on the ice as Gaborik, who leads Koivu by 16 goals on the franchise list, presented him the traditional silver stick. ... Fowler tied Rakell and Marty McInnis for ninth place on the franchise list with 25 career power-play goals. ... Rakell has six goals and six assists in his last 15 games. ... Donato has four goals and one assist in his last eight games. ... Wild rookie defenceman Brennan Menell made his NHL debut, with one blocked shot in 10:23 of ice time.
Ducks: Return home to face Los Angeles on Thursday. Anaheim hosted its Southern California rival just 10 days ago, winning 4-2. The Kings are the only team behind the Ducks in the Western Conference standings.
Wild: Host Edmonton on Thursday. They beat the Oilers 3-0 at home on Oct. 22.
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