While you need depth to make it through a long season, you also need your top guys to perform like your top guys. The Ducks got their money’s worth from their top forwards in a 3-2 win against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.
The win, which gave the Ducks three out of four points on their road trip thus far, came in a building they have had difficulties in. While not quite as bad as the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, it had still been nearly two years since they had a win in Minnesota.
Figuring out their power play certainly helped.
Their first goal came at 8:47 of the first period, with Corey Perry putting the puck behind Niklas Backstrom on their very first power play opportunity.
“We scored,” said Perry. “It is improving, but we still have some work to do. We were moving it crisply. We were snapping it around. We worked on that in practice — everybody touching the puck, everybody moving around and playing different positions. Anybody can play anywhere, and it is that complete level to create the second chances. I thought we did a good job of that tonight.”
Minnesota nearly tied up the game, just seconds before the period ended, but Jonas Hiller was able to deflect the shot off his shoulder and it narrowly veered away from the net.
Early in the second period, Minnesota nearly helped the Ducks go ahead by two. Jared Spurgeon almost put the puck in his own net, but Backstrom was alert and made a nice stop.
The Ducks were able to get their second goal on their own thanks to Bobby Ryan at 7:01. Teemu Selanne got the assist, as he did with all three Ducks goals.
By the end of the second period, Spurgeon figured out which net was his and he brought the Wild back within one goal at 13:07. As in the first period, they nearly tied up the game in the waning seconds of the period, but close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes.
The Ducks quickly took back a two goal lead in the third period, wasting no time on the power play. The player was in the penalty box and :18 seconds later, the puck was in the Minnesota net. Ryan Getzlaf made an easy tap in of Selanne’s shot at 3:58. It would turn out to be the game winner.
“Teemu’s been doing the same things for a lot of years, and luckily we’ve been together for a long time,” Getzlaf stated. “We kind of have that awareness with each other about where we’re going to be and those things help a lot when you’re out there on the power play.”
Selanne looks like he could be doing it for a lot more years, too, despite his birth certificate claiming that he is 41.
Matt Cullen, a former Duck and Minnesota native, tipped in Mikko Koivu’s shot on the power play at 13:54 to make things nervewracking for the final minutes of the game. Two successive Minnesota penalties slowed down their efforts and ability to tie up the game.
The Ducks and Hiller hung on for the regulation win and now head off to Nashville for a rematch of the playoffs this past spring and hopefully two more points.
IN OTHER NOTES: Devante Smith-Pelly spent the second game in a row as a scratch due to the stomach flu. Both Patrick Maroon and J.F. Jacques were sent back to Syracuse to play in Friday evening’s game there. It is highly likely that Saturday morning they will get on yet another plane and return to the Ducks for the back to back games against Nashville and Columbus. Those two games will be the final games of Jacques NHL suspension.