By Adam Brady
ANAHEIM - The Minnesota Wild have prided themselves on a stifling defense that has been among the best in the NHL over the past several seasons. Sunday night at Honda Center, the Ducks became yet another victim of it.
|Niedermayer's goal with 22.6 remaining pulled the Ducks within one, but it was too little too late.
Anaheim could manage only a Todd Marchant shorthanded goal in the second period and a too-little-too-late Scott Niedermayer goal in the third in suffering a 3-2 loss to the Wild, the Ducks’ third straight defeat and fourth in a row at home.
Stephane Veilleux had goals in each of the first two periods and Andrew Brunette scored a big one in the third to put the Ducks two goals behind and virtually put the lid on this one.
The Ducks were able to get closer on a Scott Niedermayer goal with 22.6 left in regulation, with Jonas Hiller on the bench for an extra attacker. Corey Perry put the puck in front from behind the net and Niedermayer bullied his way in to push it under Backstrom. But that was as close as the Ducks would get, as they didn’t threaten in the closing seconds.
That goal was one of the few that got by Backstrom, who had 35 saves just one night after being pulled in the middle of a 4-3 defeat in Los Angeles. Backstrom continued a trend in which he bounces back from bad games, as he entered tonight with a 3-0-1 mark in his next start after being pulled, including a .939 save percentage and 1.48 goals-against average.
Brunette had a critical goal for the Wild midway through the third period, one-timing a James Sheppard feed from the slot and beating Hiller. That gave Minnesota a late two-goal lead that they traditionally don’t surrender. And tonight was no exception, as they gave Anaheim few opportunities down the stretch and Backstrom remained mostly stubborn.
For the second straight night, the Ducks gave up an early one, this time from Veilleux just 1:09 into the game. Nick Schultz send the puck on net from deep in the corner, and it kicked off Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller to Veilleux, who batted it through.
That was one of the few notable moments in a mostly listless first period in which the Ducks managed nine shots on net, all stopped by Wild goalie Nicklas Backstrom.
|Backstrom held the Ducks at bay most of the night, stopping 35 of 37 shots.
The Ducks finally broke through in surprising fashion, getting a shorthanded goal from Todd Marchant 5:10 into the middle session. The Ducks were killing a Chris Pronger roughing penalty that resulted from Pronger going after Wild winger Cal Clutterbuck, who had just drilled Corey Perry from behind and sent Perry staggering toward the bench.
Marchant’s hustle paid off, as he met up with Backstrom and Marc-Andre Bergergon, who both went behind the net to play a puck that was cleared the length of the ice by the Ducks. Marchant managed to not only steal the puck from Bergeron, but tuck in a wraparound before Backstrom could get back in front of the net.
The game remained tied at 1 until late in the second, when Veilleux got his second of the game after a Ducks turnover. A pass to Erik Christensen at center ice bounced off the newcomer’s stick, sending Veilleux off on a breakaway, where he ripped a slap shot on the move over Hiller’s raised glove.
With their playoff hopes fading with each frustrating defeat, the Ducks will hope to bounce back Wednesday night, when they face Vancouver at Honda Center.
Due to technical difficulties, the game log is temporarily unavailable.
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