ANAHEIM – A 3-2 victory over the visiting Wild gave the Ducks their best start through 19 games in franchise history, but tonight it was their finish that left something to be desired.
The Ducks, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead through the first two periods, gave up two Minnesota goals in the first half of the third, and had to hang on for dear life to earn a nail-biting victory. It was the eighth straight win at home, the eighth victory in the last nine overall and kept the Ducks with the NHL's second-best record at 15-3-1.
That mark through 19 games betters the 13-2-4 mark posted by the 2006-07 team that went on to capture California’s first Stanley Cup. "Obviously nobody expects to start the way we did, but guys are doing the right things," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. "On nights like tonight where we probably didn’t have our best thing all night, we started off good in the third period and had goaltending to keep us in it. Good teams find ways to win even when they shouldn’t."
The Ducks had to withstand a Wild fury in the final minutes of the game, as Minnesota desperately tried to tie it with Anaheim seemingly running out of stream. The Wild’s best opportunity came in the final three minutes, after Francois Beauchemin was called for tripping Matt Cullen in the corner. Early in that power play, the Wild pulled rookie goalie Darcy Kuemper to create a 6-on-4 advantage. But the Ducks held strong, punctuated by a huge clear off the wall and down the ice by Luca Sbisa with 1:15 left in the game, and they withstood any further attacks in the final minute.
"You have to learn how to play when the other team is outplaying you and you’re just hanging on," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "Those are the games that when you can win games, it’s on character. It’s not on anything you’re doing because we were being vastly outplayed in the last period and the second period, quite frankly. But we just hung on and did enough to win."
For the second straight game, the Ducks got off to a roaring start in the first period, and again it was sparked by the top line of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Kyle Palmieri. The trio, which combined for nine points Wednesday night vs. Nashville, got the Ducks on the board 4:45 into the game on a Getzlaf goal. Palmieri shipped the puck ahead to Perry near the blue line, and Perry made a pretty cross-ice feed to Getzlaf for the tap-in.
Just past the midway point of the period, Teemu Selanne got the 669th of his career, when he swung from the right wing to the backhand and flipped a shot through from the inside edge of the circle.
Anaheim made it 3-0 at 11:26 of the second period after a Daniel Winnik pass glanced off the stick of Wild defenseman Ryan Suter and ended up under Kuemper. He couldn’t locate it as Matt Beleskey ran up and punched it under and behind his leg pad.
Minnesota came roaring back in the third, starting just 29 seconds in on a Kyle Brodziak slap shot goal off a Toni Lydman giveaway in the corner.
Then halfway through the period, Devin Setoguchi criss-crossed the ice in the Anaheim end, eluding Emerson Etem before unleashing a slap shot that beat Jonas Hiller to make it 3-2 Anaheim.
"You kind of get a false sense of security going there. Those things hurt you," Getzlaf said. "But we held it out. It’s part of what our goaltending does here, keeps us in hockey games and sometimes win them for us."
Indeed, Hiller was a major reason the Wild got no closer, making a number of key stops among his 31 for the night. "I felt pretty good," he said. "I definitely feel more and more comfortable out there. And I was definitely happy the way it went. I am trying to do my best every night and it always gives you confidence. I still think I can still play better but I’m going in the right direction."
The Ducks turn right around and head to Phoenix, where they take on the Coyotes tomorrow night and Monday night. They face them again next Wednesday at Honda Center.
The Ducks’ 15-3-1 start (31 points) is now the best start in club history, surpassing the 2006-07 team (13-2-4 for 30 points through 19 games). Anaheim’s 15 wins and 31 points are the second-most in the NHL (Chicago leads the NHL with an 18-0-3 record for 39 points).
The club has won eight straight games at Honda Center, the longest HOME streak in the NHL this season (8-1-0 record is club's best-ever start). The eight-game streak marks the most consecutive wins at home in five years (the club won 10 straight from Feb. 17-Mar. 26, 2008)
Overall, Anaheim has won eight of the last nine contests (8-1-0) and 12 of 14 (12-2-0). The club is now 15 points ahead of last year’s pace after 19 games (6-9-4 in 2011-12, 16 points).
Ryan Getzlaf extended his point streak to five games (3-7=10). In addition, he pushed his point streak at HOME to seven games (4-8=12, +5). Getzlaf has 4-9=13 points with a +6 rating in the last eight contests overall. His team-leading 7-15=22 points rank tied for 11th in the NHL.
With his assist on Getzlaf’s goal, Corey Perry has extended his point streak to a season-best seven games (3-9=12, +7). It is his longest streak since Nov. 16-30, 2011 (also 7 games, 5-5=10). His streak is the second-longest active streak in the League (Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos currently has an eight-game streak, 7-7=14).
Scoring the 669th goal of his NHL career, Teemu Selanne now has sole possession of 11th in all-time goals, two shy of Jaromir Jagr at 10th (671).
Jonas Hiller won his third consecutive start this evening (3-0-0), stopping 31-of-33 shots on net. In those three contests, Hiller has stopped 76-of-83 shots for a 2.28 GAA (7 GA/184 MIN) and .915 SV%.
Tonight’s attendance was 15,264.
20:00 - END OF GAME - Ducks hang on, 3-2.
19:50 - Perry tries to send it into the empty net from center ice, but it's off Suter. Doesn't look like it'll matter as time winds down.
19:12 - Koivu clears it just over the stripe and Brodziak tries to bring it back, but gets the offside call. There's 47.5 left.
18:45 - Gargantuan clear by Sbisa off the wall and down the ice. Penalty over.
18:25 - Timeout Ducks with 1:35 left and an empty Minnesota net.
18:15 - Cullen hammers a shot off Hiller's mask.
18:10 - Wild empty the net to create a 6 on 4.
17:50 - Ducks with a big clear midway through the penalty.
16:43 - ANA Penalty - Francois Beauchemin, 2 min. tripping. Beauchemin is steamed as he gets called for taking down Cullen, who looked like he lost an edge as he chased the puck to the corner.
14:50 - Hiller keeps the Ducks in front, smothering a loose puck in the crease with a couple of Wild guys charging.
14:22 - Puck goes into the bench, and we've got a timeout with 5:38 left, Ducks leading it by the slimmest of margins.
13:20 - Mitchell pounces on a giveaway and slaps it over the net. Tide has definitely turned in this period. Ducks need to hang on.
10:37 - MINNESOTA GOAL - DEVIN SETOGUCHI - Admitedly pretty goal, as the former Shark Setoguchi crosses the blue line, zings to the other wing, maneuvers past Etem and unleashes a slap shot that beats Hiller. We've got a whole new hockey game here, 3-2.
9:30 - Hiller kicks away a Parise shot and is lucky to stop the rebound try by Coyle. That could have dramatically changes things.
Honoring the soldiers during the timeout never gets old.
7:20 - Winnik with a wicked slap shot from the right wing that's kicked away. He's still looking for that sixth goal after a red hot start.
3:28 - Getzlaf slings it to Palmieri, who fires into a crowd, but it doesn't get through.
0:29 - MINNESOTA GOAL - KYLE BRODZIAK - Wild get their first one early, as Lydman tries to clear the puck off the wall from his own corner, and it goes right to Brodziak, who slaps it inside the right post.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks tack one on, courtesy of Matt Beleskey, and it's 3-0.
18:41 - Mikko Koivu crashes the net and goes hard into Hiller, who's down inside his dislodged net for a few seconds, but he recovers.
18:30 - Palmieri with a little drop pass for a heavy Getzlaf one-timer that's kicked away.
17:55 - Parise with a chance in front, but he's dogged by Getzlaf enough to get off only a soft shot.
16:16 - Maroon with a tip that Kuemper is ready for.
14:00 - Puck gets loose in the blue paint in front of the Anaheim net, but Ryan scoops it out of there.
11:26 - ANAHEIM GOAL - MATT BELESKEY - It wasn't the prettiest but it counts, as Winnik tries to throw it on net, and it glances off the stick of Suter. Kuemper doesn't see the puck underneath him as Beleskey runs up and punches it behind him. Fourth of the year for Beleskey (one assist away from a Gordie Howe hat trick) and it's 3-0.
10:17 - Wild do a nice job to kill it.
8:17 - ANA Penalty - Patrick Maroon, 5 min. fighting and Zenon Konopka, 2 min. roughing. Maroon objects to a hit from former Duck and noted agitator Konopka and the two of them go at it ... for awhile. Nothing significant lands, as Maroon successfully gets Konopka's helmet off, and Konopka ultimately wrestles him to the ice. Konopka with the extra 2.
6:54 - Etem among those on a successful PK for Anaheim.
4:54 - ANA Penalty - Saku Koivu, 2 min. high sticking. Second power play for Wild.
2:20 - Hiller with another nice stop on a one-timer by ... some Wild.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks with a heck of a first, as Getzlaf and Selanne light the lamp to make it 2-0.
19:33 - Perry patient -- almost two patient -- as he's got a ton of room after sweeping around the net, but Kuemper makes a heck of a glove save when the shot finally comes.
17:37 - Rupp runs down a puck off the wall for a 2-on-none rush and feeds in front fo Mitchell, who is absolutely robbed by Hiller on the doorstep. Nicely done.
17:28 - Just after getting knocked down by Stoner after flinging a shot from the right wing, Beleskey objects to the contact and gets into it with the unfortunately named defenseman. It ends with Beleskey spinning Stoner to the ice.
17:00 - Ducks kill it.
15:00 - ANA Penalty - Bobby Ryan, 2 min. holding. Ryan with some contact with Mitchell at the blue line.
11:21 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TEEMU SELANNE - Selanne, looking anything but 42 years old, gets the puck on the right wing, swings to the backhand and flips it past Gilbert and (more importantly) Kuemper. It's 2-0 Ducks as Selanne gets No. 669.
9:30 - Etem, Bonino and Maroon getting something going around the Wlld net.
Only lady tennis ball in the house tonight (no husband), sitting behind the other goal this time.
7:00 - Palmieri sneaks in front of Spurgeon (similar to his first goal last game) but can't convert this one.
We have a contest during the timeouts in which two contestants have to name Ducks players off the top of their heads (with no repeats) until one of them runs out. Kills me that they never turn around and look at the bench.
4:45 - ANAHEIM GOAL - RYAN GETZLAF - The top line (9 points last game) gets it done again, as Palmieri chips it ahead to Perry (who was almost offside) at the blue line, and Perry makes yet another pinpoint feed to Getzlaf for the tap-in. It's 1-0 Ducks as Getzlaf ties Palmieri for the team lead in goals with 7.
3:39 - Icing.
0:48 - Palmieri with a chance in front for his fourth in two games, but Kuemper is ready for him and Getzlaf a second later.
0:00 - And we're underway.
Little kiddo players join Ducks for the anthem. One suddenly slides several feet in front of the blueline during the song and Perry motions him back.
Hiller gets the nod and rookie Kuemper (2 career games) in net for Minnesota. Souray scratched because he was a little banged up last game, and the Ducks are playing the first of a back-to-back.
Starters in bold/italics.
MIKKO KOIVU (C)
ZACH PARISE (A)
RYAN SUTER (A)
TEEMU SELANNE (A)
SAKU KOIVU (A)
RYAN GETZLAF (C)
1 - 0 ANA
2 - 0 ANA
3 - 0 ANA
3 - 1 ANA
3 - 2 ANA