ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Sandis Ozolinsh missed the Anaheim Mighty Ducks as much as they missed him.
Ozolinsh scored the go-ahead goal with 7:11 left in the third period, leading the Ducks to a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.
It was just the second game the seven-time All-Star defenseman has played in the NHL after missing three months because of a knee injury and his entrance into the NHL's substance abuse program.
"His recovery is more of a personal matter for him, but we're real happy to have him back," goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. "He seems to be in a really good mood, he's got a lot less worries and he seems like he's having fun on the ice. And having his experience is going to help us tremendously though the end of the season."
For the second straight night, Minnesota twice overcame one-goal deficits before surrendering the winning goal in the third period. Ozolinsh beat goalie Dwayne Roloson with his only shot on net - a slap shot from the left point that changed direction off Minnesota left wing Pascal Dupuis. It was Ozolinsh's second goal of the season and first since Oct. 19.
"I'm very grateful to get back here and get a lot of support from my teammates and everybody. It was very important," Ozolinsh said. "I'm trying to keep very positive about everything."
It was the 25th winning goal of Ozolinsh's 13-year career.
"For a player that's gone through the situation that he's gone through - and he's continually trying to make a comeback into our lineup - it's a big-time goal," coach Randy Carlyle said. "It's a big relief for him, and he should be credited for it because he's done nothing but strictly focus on trying to help our hockey club."
"Historically, that's what he's been - an offensive defenseman. But for the time being, all we've asked him to be is sound defensively. But it was nice to see him get the goal."
Corey Perry scored a power-play goal for Anaheim, Samuel Pahlsson ended an 18-game scoring drought with a short-handed tally, and Teemu Selanne added an empty-netter with 27 seconds left. Giguere made 36 saves, helping the Ducks avoid a four-game season sweep by Minnesota and preventing Jacques Lemaire from getting his 400th NHL coaching victory.
Todd White and Marian Gaborik scored for the Wild, whose four-game losing streak is their longest of the season.
"I thought we've played pretty well the past two games, but we haven't been rewarded for it," defenseman Willie Mitchell said. "We need to find a way to win these types of games."
Just before the game, Minnesota announced it signed goaltender Manny Fernandez to a multiyear contract extension. Roloson started in his place and made 28 saves after going 3-11 in his previous 14 starts.
Pahlsson opened the scoring at 6:16 of the second period with his fifth career short-handed goal, just 12 seconds after teammate Todd Fedoruk was sent off for hooking. Roloson fanned on a clearing pass, and Pahlsson banked the puck off the goalie's skate for his first goal since Jan. 6.
White tied it with his 19th goal, getting a pass from Andrei Zyuzin in front of the net and putting a wrist shot past Giguere's glove 3 seconds after Fedoruk's penalty elapsed. Brian Rolston also had an assist for his 63rd point, eclipsing his previous career high with Boston in 2001-02.
The Ducks regained the lead with 12 seconds left in the period when Perry beat Roloson high to the glove side with a slap shot from the middle of the right circle - less than a minute after Selanne hit the right post with a slapper from the left circle.
But Gaborik pulled Minnesota even again at 4:37 of the third with a highlight-reel goal. He stickhandled through the legs of Anaheim defenseman Joffrey Lupul in the left circle, skated toward the slot and whipped a wrist shot between Giguere's pads. It was Gaborik's 15th goal in 17 games and 28th this season, two shy of his club record.
Notes: Fernandez is 23-11-4 with a 2.20 goals-against average - fifth best in the league. He could have become an unrestricted free agent after the season. ... The Ducks were 2-for-23 on the power play against Minnesota this season.
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