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
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
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
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
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.