Game 4 - Minnesota 4, Ducks 1
ST. PAUL, Minn. - With hopes of a sweep in Minnesota, the Ducks ran into a Wild bunch that played exactly like a team with its back against the wall. After a 1-1 tie through two periods, the Wild exploded for three goals in the third to run away with a must-have 4-1 victory.
The Wild victory - the first following seven consecutive postseason defeats to the Ducks - shrank the Ducks' lead to three games to one as the series heads back to Anaheim for Thursday's Game 5.
After a scoreless first, the Ducks struck first just over six minutes into the second. After a roughing call to Minnesota's Stephane Veilleux, Chris Pronger ripped a one-timer from the blue line that sailed through everybody, including Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom.
The period continued in the Ducks' favor, as they had several chances and kept the puck mostly in the Minnesota zone. Anaheim also killed two Wild power plays, much to the displeasure of the often-booing crowd, which was 19,174 strong. But they quickly changed their attitudes when the Wild fought back with a Pierre-Marc Bouchard goal with 1:57 left in the period. Bouchard's wrister bounced hard off Ilya Bryzgalov and Bouchard one-timed the rebound past an astounded Bryzgalov.
Minnesota took the lead just 3:23 into the third on a workhorse goal by Marian Gaborik, his second of the series. Gaborik slid the puck from behind the net to the crease, where it was pinned between Bryzgalov and the right post. Gaborik and Brian Rolston hacked away at it until it finally got through Bryzgalov to make it 2-1 Wild.
The Wild got another six minutes later on a huge turn of the tide. A Pronger one-timer was knocked away by Backstrom, and Pronger had trouble recovering on the other end as Brian Rolston headed up the ice. Rolston slid it to Pavol Demitra in the slot, who sent it back to Rolston and he easily found the open net. It was Rolston's first goal of the series, and prompted a defeaning roar from the Xcel Energy Center faithful.
Just more than a minute later, Minnesota put it away on Mark Parrish's first of the postseason. With his back to the goal, Parrish redirected a hard Petteri Nummelin wrister right in front of Bryzgalov and into the net. It made it 4-1 Wild and the Ducks frustration showed, as they engaged in a brawl with the Wild right after the goal, punctuated by a Corey Perry fight with Brent Burns.
It also prompted a Ducks goalie change, as J.S. Giguere made his first appearance of the postseason. Minnesota almost made it 5-1 two minutes later, but it was ruled that Branko Radivojevic was in the crease when he deflected a shot past Giguere.
The rest of the period was marked by several skirmishes between the Ducks and Wild, ensuring some more bad blood when the series resumes in Anaheim.
Minnesota played by far its best game of the series, outshooting the Ducks 40-29. Backstrom had 28 saves in earning his first career postseason victory.
"All the credit goes to them," Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle said. "They executed much better than we did and they deserved to win the hockey game."
Game 5 is at Honda Center at 7:30 p.m.
20:00 - END OF GAME. We're going back to Anaheim for Game 5 Thursday.
This one will be even more interesting when we get back to Anaheim.
18:12 - The Ducks' Kent Huskins and Shawn Thornton jump on MIN Adam Hall. An all-out brawl breaks out in which Kim Johnnson looks like he might be slightly hurt. Huskins gets 5 for fighting, Thornton gets a game misconduct, Brad May gets a game misconduct and Hall gets 5 for fighting.
17:40 - Chris Kunitz finds himself on a breakaway, but his shot hits the left post and Backstrom's skate.
15:29 - ANA PENALTY - Chris Kunitz, 2 min. charging.
13:53 - MIN PENALTY - Wes Walz, 2 min. high sticking.
12:30 - Minnesota almost makes it 5-1 on a deflection in front by Branko Radivojevic, but it's ruled he was in the crease. The crowd is not please. But they will probably get over it quickly with a 4-1 lead.
10:44 - J.S. Giguere replaces Bryzgalov, making his first appearance of the playoffs.
10:44 - The Ducks and Wild get into it after the goal. Corey Perry and Brent Burns engage in a brutal fight of their own, in which Burns gets the takedown. Perry gets 2 for charging and 5 for fighting. Burns gets 5 for fighting. Ryan Getzlaf gets 2 for roughing and MIN Mikko Koivu gets 2 for slashing.
10:44 - MIN GOAL - MARK PARRISH - With his back to the goal, Parrish redirects a hard Petteri Nummelin wrister right in front of Bryzgalov and into the net. It's Parrish's first goal of the series and it's 4-1 Wild.
9:27 - MIN GOAL - BRIAN ROLSTON - Huge turn of the tide as a Pronger one-timer is saved and he has trouble recovering on the other end as Brian Rolston heads up the ice. Rolston slides it to Pavol Demitra in the slot, who sends it back to Rolston and he easily finds the open net. It's Rolston's first of the series, it's 3-1 Minnesota and this place has exploded.
3:23 - MIN GOAL (POWER PLAY) - MARIAN GABORIK - Gaborik moves the puck from behind the net to the crease, where it's pinned between Bryzgalov and the right post. Gaborik and Brian Rolston hack away at it until it finally gets through Bryzgalov. It's 2-1 Minnesota.
2:04 - ANA PENALTY - Kent Huskins, 2 min. holding. Another Anaheim penalty, as Minnesota is 0-3 on the PP.
1:53 - Bryzgalov stretches out for a nice glove save on a Rolston shot.
0:00 - We're underway in a huge third period.
During the intermission, they have two kids in adult-size uniforms waddle toward the goal to see who can put the puck in the net first. It's actually pretty entertaining.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD. A second period that started out all Anaheim moves the Wild's way with their late goal. The Ducks will have 1:12 of power play time when we come back.
19:11 - MIN PENALTY - Marian Gaborik, 2 min. hooking. The crowd's cheers turn into just-as-loud jeers. Ducks are 1-2 on the PP.
18:03 - MIN GOAL - PIERRE-MARC BOUCHARD - Bouchard's first shot bounces hard off Bryzgalov, and Bouchard one-times the rebound off an Anaheim defenseman and past Bryz. This crowd has come alive and it's 1-1. Bryz looks like he can't believe it went in.
16:10 - Ducks clear the zone to kill the power play and ... wait for it ... the crowd boos.
The bucket they use to clean the ice during the timeouts is sponsored by Super Cuts.
14:15 - ANA PENALTY - Chris Pronger, 2 min. interference. Prongs blocks the path of Todd White on his way to the puck. The crowd agrees. Minnesota is 0-2 on the PP.
13:56 - A furious stretch back and forth ends with a Minnesota icing. Crowd does not boo.
10:40 - ANA PENALTY - Ryan Getzlaf, 2 min. hooking. Bryz makes an incredible save on a Brian Rolston one-timer from point blank range. But the play ends with a Getzlaf penalty. The Wild are 0-1 on the power play.
9:10 - That's boo No. 24 of the period from the Xcel Energy Center faithful.
8:46 - Pavol Demitra's pass from behind the net gets caught in Bryz's stick and he can't find it right away. Thankfully, he does and buries it.
7:07 - The crowd continues to lay it on the officials after a Minnesota offside call.
6:08 - ANA GOAL (POWER PLAY) - CHRIS PRONGER - The Ducks convert on the PP right away, as Pronger unleashes a bomb of a one-timer from the blue line that gets through everybody. Getzlaf gets the assist by feeding Pronger. Scott Niedermayer gets the second assist.
5:28 - MIN PENALTY - Stephane Veilleux, 2 min. roughing. Sami Pahlsson, who is playing phenomenally tonight, gets into it a bit with Veilleux after Sami's shot and Rob Niedermayer's shot are both saved by Backstrom. Veilleux gets the only penalty. The crowd is either booing or saying "Veilleux" or both.
4:35 - Bryzgalov makes two nice saves within seconds, then puts both hands on top of the puck after the second one.
0:00 - And here we go with the second stanza.
20:00 - That's the horn for the end of a fast-moving first. The Wild outshoots the Ducks 14-9, as both teams have some good chances. But we're double-donut after one.
16:54 - Unsung Sammy Pahlsson fires a wrister from just in front of the blue line that nearly gets through Backstrom, who holds it.
15:19 - Kent Huskins does his best Chris Pronger imitation with a one-timer from the point, but it's gloved by Backstrom.
14:30 - MIN PENALTY - Keith Carney, 2 min. holding. Crowd boos. First power play for the Ducks.
13:50 - Bryzgalov covers the puck near the right post, after which Scott Niedermayer and Marian Gaborik do a little pushing and shoving behind the net.
The laudible anticipation by this crowd on every potential one-timer from the point is impressive.
11:40 - ANA PENALTY - Ryan Getzlaf, 2 min. high sticking. It's our first penalty of the game. MIN is 1-15 on the power play in this series, but they converted their last one, with 38.2 remaining in Game 3.
This crowd is loud, but not QUITE as loud as Game 3. Wild are wearing their red third jerseys again.
0:00 - And we're underway in Game 4. Same dramatic pregame presentation that included the message "We will send the series back to Anaheim". We'll try to have video of that for you in a bit.
Starting goaltenders: ANA Ilya Bryzgalov; MIN Niklas Backstrom
Starting Skaters: ANA Scott Niedermayer, Kent Huskins, Chris Kunitz, Andy McDonald, Teemu Selanne; MIN Brent Burns, Marian Gaborik, Petteri Nummelin, Pavol Demitra, Brankp Radivojevic
Scratches: ANA Sebastien Caron, Ric Jackman, Mark Hartigan, George Parros, Todd Marchant, Francois Beauchemin, Joe Motzko, Drew Miller; MIN Manny Fernandez, Shawn Belle, Dominic Moore, Wyatt Smith, Kurtis Foster, Matt Foy
6 p.m. (PDT) at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
TV: KDOC Radio: AM 830
ST. PAUL, Minn. - One goal has decided each of the first three games of the Ducks' Western Conference Quarterfinals series against Minnesota, yet it hasn't been that close. And tonight the Ducks, holding a 3-0 lead, can close the series out with a second straight win at Xcel Energy Center.
Anaheim again used airtight defense and solid goalkeeping by Ilya Bryzgalov to win Game 3 here on Sunday, 2-1. The Ducks didn't give up a Wild goal until 38.2 seconds remained and Anaheim was shorthanded.
Bryzgalov has started all three playoff games in place of J.S. Giguere, who was the team's No. 1 goalie for most of the season, but missed the final three games of the regular season due to a medical problem with his son.
The Ducks have held Minnesota's Brian Rolston without a point in the series.
That goal from Petteri Nummelin is Minnesota's only one in 15 power plays in this series.
"It's a credit to our guys who have spent a lot of time working on it, studying them and what they do," said Anaheim's Andy McDonald. "They've been good all year, and they showed again tonight we are able to be successful on the penalty kill."
McDonald scored with the man advantage for his first point of the series and Rob Niedermayer also had a goal. Chris Pronger assisted on both goals for the Ducks, who had not won at Xcel Energy Center since May 12, 2003 - a span of six games. (That came in the '03 postseason, when the Ducks swept the Wild behind Giguere's red-hot goalkeeping.)
While Anaheim has gone 3-for-11 with the man advantage, the Wild hope to get their power play on track after ranking sixth-best in the NHL during the regular season at 18.9 percent (72-of-380).
"Our power play is not doing well at all," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "We're not giving them a lot of five on five. I think our special teams made the difference."
The Wild had the second-best power-play conversation rate at home in the NHL this season, and believed the change of venue would help them recover after losing the first two games in Anaheim. Minnesota, however, still has been unable to adjust to the Ducks defense led by Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, and its offensive effort Sunday was probably the weakest of the series.
The Wild's 20 shots were their fewest of any of the first three games.
"Everyone was saying, 'Shoot the puck! Shoot the puck!' on the bench and then they went back on the ice and they didn't shoot it," Lemaire said. "The guys recognized the mistakes we were making and couldn't adjust."
Minnesota's top scorers have struggled against the Ducks, providing little support for Backstrom, who recorded 17 saves on Sunday and has a .910 save percentage during the series.
Brian Rolston, who had a team-high 31 goals and 64 points this season, has failed to record a point in the series. Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik have been held to a combined two goals and two assists after accounting for 55 goals and 121 points during the regular season.
"They're all over the place. It seems like there were 10 guys with white jerseys on out there tonight," Gaborik said, later adding: "It seems like there's no room at all. You get time for a little bit, then they're right on you. They were just taking away everything."
Lemaire's team will have to quickly adjust if the Wild hope to prolong the series. With a win Tuesday, Anaheim will advance to the second round for the second consecutive year and fourth time in team history. If not, the teams resume play on Thursday back at the Honda Center.
- Associated Press contributed to this report.