Wild 5, Ducks 1

A struggling opposing goaltender came at just the right time for

the Minnesota Wild.

Matt Cullen scored a short-handed goal, Eric Nystrom scored his

first career power-play goal and the Minnesota Wild beat the

Anaheim Ducks 5-1 Friday night.

Mikko Koivu, Kyle Brodziak and Martin Havlat also scored for

Minnesota, which had scored just two goals in its last two games,

but may have lost Koivu to injury.

Corey Perry scored for the Ducks, who lost on the road for the

first time in seven games. Anaheim remains three points behind

Phoenix in the Pacific Division, and is tied with three other teams

for sixth place in the Western Conference standings. The Wild are

10th, one point back.

”It was a huge win versus a team that’s ahead of is in the

standings and that we’re chasing,” said Wild coach Todd

Richards.

Anaheim goaltender Curtis McElhinney struggled in his second

straight start since the Ducks placed starting goaltender Jonas

Hiller on injured reserve with a recurrence of fatigue and

lightheadedness. McElhinney allowed seven goals Wednesday to

Washington, calling his performance ”disheartening.”

He said the phrase is again appropriate.

”There need to be some saves made at critical points in the

game, and they aren’t happening right now. I need to find a way to

get it done.”

Coach Randy Carlyle was noncommittal about Saturday’s goaltender

in St. Louis, saying ”You’ll have to be at warmup.” Timo

Pielmeier, who backed up McElhinney on Friday, has yet to play in

an NHL game. Veteran Ray Emery, who signed a one-year deal with

Anaheim on Monday, is on a conditioning stint with the Ducks AHL

team in Syracuse.

Carlyle said McElhinney’s positioning and a ”couple of other

things” could have been better, but he was critical of the rest of

the Ducks for not making the goaltender’s job easier. ”We gave up

too many odd-man rushes, Corey Perry falls down and they get a

four-on-two,” he said.

Less than 2 minutes after Nystrom scored on that rush for a 3-1

Minnesota lead, Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler failed to clear

Brodziak from the crease and the Wild center was able to swat in a

rebound of Cal Clutterbuck’s shot.

”We were in situations where we’re not supposed to do that, and

those usually end up in our net. We just have to keep it more

simple and play smarter,” defenseman Toni Lydman said.

Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom continued his sensational

month, stopping 29 shots. He has allowed just eight goals in six

February starts.

His lone misstep came early in the first period when Perry

tipped a harmless looking shot from Bobby Ryan off Backstrom’s left

leg and into the net. However, Koivu tied it 91 seconds later,

fighting off Lubomir Visnovsky as he came out from the end boards

and stuffing the puck past McElhinney on his second try.

Koivu left the game with a hand injury after the first period

and did not return. He is expected to be re-evaluated Saturday.

”To lose a guy like we did during the game, everyone’s got to

step up a little bit and we did. He’s a huge player on our team and

it’s a big void when he’s not in there,” Brodziak said.

Cullen scored short-handed late in the first period for a 2-1

Wild lead.

During a four-second 5-on-3 for the Ducks, Brodziak intercepted

a pass from Visnovsky in the Wild end, took a stride and saw Cullen

sprinting out of the penalty box behind the defense. Cullen went in

alone and beat McElhinney high on the stick side. It was his fourth

short-handed goal of the season to tie him with Boston’s Brad

Marchand and Frans Nielsen of the New York Islanders for the league

lead.

Havlat scored a power-play goal in the third period.

NOTES: Perry has 14 points during his current seven-game point

streak. … D Marek Zidlicky returned to the Minnesota lineup after

missing 21 games with a separated shoulder. … Anaheim fell to

9-2-2 against the Northwest Division. … Minnesota is scheduled to

practice outdoors Saturday for the first time in team history.