ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Ducks badly wanted a fast start in this lockout-shortened season, and their attention to that reached historic proportions Friday night, when they surpassed the Stanley Cup season of 2006-07 for their best start ever.
Boosted by a three-goal lead courtesy of Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne and Matt Beleskey, the Ducks survived a late Minnesota Wild rally to win 3-2, with goaltender Jonas Hiller contributing a strong 31-save effort in his third consecutive victory.
The Ducks’ eighth consecutive victory at Honda Center lifted them to 15-3-1. Their 31 points are the second-most in the NHL, passing Montreal and behind only unbeaten-in-regulation Chicago. They are 15 points ahead of where they were after 19 games last season.
“We were scrambling there at the end, but it showed we still believed we’d win the game,” Hiller said. “Guys have that confidence now that we didn’t have last year, to play to win — not to not lose.”
Before his team headed to Phoenix for two games Saturday and Monday, Coach Bruce Boudreau said the Ducks were “vastly outplayed” in allowing two goals in the first 11 minutes of the third period Friday, and urged them to continue their heated pursuit of victories.
“It’s a good start,” Boudreau said. “But if we lose four or five in a row, it’s tooth and nail for the playoffs.”
The Ducks’ first line remained potent two nights after combining for nine points in Wednesday’s 5-1 victory over Nashville.
Team captain Getzlaf scored his seventh goal of the season, taking a precise pass from wing Corey Perry just in front of Minnesota’s Devin Setoguchi and touching the shot past Minnesota goaltender Darcy Kuemper for a 1-0 lead 4:45 into the game.
Later in the first period, the Ducks went ahead 2-0 on two sharp moves by veteran Teemu Selanne that earned him his 669th career goal.
Selanne, 42, outworked Minnesota defenseman Nate Prosser for a loose puck and skated toward the goal. Just when it appeared he might pass, Selanne backhanded a shot that beat Kuemper on his right side.
Hiller’s comfort increased when Beleskey knocked in a goal for a 3-0 lead with 8:34 left in the second.
Daniel Winnik’s shot slid beneath Kuemper, from his right leg to under his left skate. With Kuemper unable to grab the puck, Beleskey rushed in and pushed it into the net for his fourth goal of the season.
“It was just kind of sitting there,” Beleskey said. “I think I was the only one who knew where it was.”
The Wild broke through 29 seconds into the third period when Kyle Brodziak intercepted a pass by Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman and fired a slap shot that rocketed past Hiller’s left to trim the Ducks’ lead to 3-1.
The tension increased when Minnesota’s Setoguchi averted traffic from flailing Ducks defenseman Bryan Allen and fired a shot that sailed by Hiller with 9:23 left in the game. Matt Cullen of the Wild shielded Hiller on the shot.