Just when the Anaheim Ducks thought they were beginning to turn their fortunes around, they learned they'll be without their top defenseman for awhile.
The Ducks will try to withstand an extended absence from Lubomir Visnovsky starting Sunday night when they host the Minnesota Wild.
Anaheim (6-7-3) is 2-6-3 since a four-game winning streak, but ended a six-game slide by beating Vancouver 4-3 on Friday, when Jonas Hiller allowed three third-period goals but also stopped 19 shots in the final 20 minutes. The victory came a day after the Ducks regrouped with a team meeting.
"We had to get that monkey off our back," coach Randy Carlyle said. "We've been floundering along here. We've played some good hockey in spurts, and we did the same thing (Friday), but we had enough of a cushion. It was pretty tense in some situations there, and everything was going against us. You could see the ice was tilted, and they were winning all the battles.
"Jonas Hiller stood tall."
The Ducks suffered a major blow in the final minute Friday, as Visnovsky broke his finger when he was hit in the right hand by a shot. He's been ruled out for roughly four weeks.
Visnovsky was the NHL's top scoring defenseman last season with 68 points, but he has just four and a minus-7 rating in 2011-12. He'd also been playing through a broken finger on his left hand for two weeks.
"Obviously it's not good to see one of our key players go down," fellow Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa told the team's official website. "The other side is there's a big opportunity and one of us has to take it. I'm more than happy to take over that role."
Sbisa and journeyman Kurtis Foster are expected to see increased playing time with Visnovsky out. Sbisa has three assists this season after getting two goals and nine assists with a minus-11 rating in 2010-11.
Foster, a member of the Wild (8-5-3) from 2005-09, has played just three games after being acquired in a trade with Edmonton last summer for fellow blueliner Andy Sutton.
Hiller, who had an assist to go with his 38 saves Friday, made 23 saves as Teemu Selanne set up all of the Ducks' goals in a 3-2 win at Minnesota on Oct. 27.
The Wild are trying to avoid their first three-game skid of the season after falling 5-2 at Los Angeles on Saturday. They gave up the first five goals, including four in the second period.
Even in their last win, a 3-0 victory at Calgary on Tuesday, the Wild got outshot 41-26 but got bailed out by Niklas Backstrom's 41 saves.
"We played three bad games in a row,'' Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said after Saturday's loss. "We thought that when we won five games in a row that we're there but we're not even close. Along the way we forgot what we had to put in to win hockey games. We got what we deserved."
Dany Heatley, who had an assist Saturday, leads Minnesota with five goals and 11 points after being acquired from San Jose in exchange for Martin Havlat last summer. The right wing had a point against the Ducks last month, matching his total from his previous four visits to Anaheim.