Watching video of his team’s last game against Anaheim, Minnesota coach Todd Richards saw more examples that the Wild aren’t the same team.
It showed on Friday night.
Guillaume Latendresse scored the winning goal in the shootout to give Minnesota a 5-4 victory over Anaheim. Mikko Koivu and Antti Miettinen scored two goals apiece for the Wild, and Miettinen also scored in the shootout as Minnesota won its fourth straight.
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“I went back to when we played them out in Anaheim … I watched it and I was like ‘this is very scrambly, this isn’t very good hockey here,”‘ Richards said of the Wild‘s 3-2 loss to the Ducks on Oct. 14.
“We got the results that we probably deserved there for the most part. There were a few good periods that we played out west, but I think now in playing, obviously we’re more systematic in our approach, in our game, and I know guys are much more confident.”
Joffrey Lupul had two goals in his return to the lineup for the Ducks and then scored in the third round of the shootout. Bobby Ryan also scored twice, but Anaheim failed to capitalize on a power play in overtime.
“We’re missing opportunities to close out a team, like we’re missing a 4-on-3 in overtime,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “You can’t miss those opportunities to seize the extra point. It’s that simple.”
The Ducks were playing without Teemu Selanne, who broke his left hand in Thursday’s loss at Dallas. Selanne underwent surgery on Friday and is expected to miss four to six weeks.
Latendresse, acquired in a trade with Montreal on Nov. 23, wasn’t around for the earlier showdown with the Ducks. With three points in his four games for the Wild, he’s been a big part of Minnesota’s resurgence.
The big winger fired a shot through the legs of Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Wild another come-from-behind win and points in six straight games. Since beginning the season 3-9, Minnesota is 9-3-3.
“When you look back when we were struggling when we were 3-8, 3-9, there wasn’t a lot of confidence,” Richards said. “You could feel, it was like a dark cloud that hung over our room almost waiting for something bad to happen. And I think now, there were some things that happened tonight that you know teams could have folded the tent and said ‘It’s too hard. This has happened before.’ And you know there’s some guys on the bench that are very positive.”
With the confidence and resiliency, the Wild just keep coming back from early deficits.
Minnesota allowed the first goal for the seventh time in its last eight games. The Wild trailed 2-0 against the Ducks and twice came back from two-goal deficits.
Koivu and Miettinen each scored in the final 5 minutes of regulation with Miettinen’s second goal of the game coming with just 1:41 remaining in the third.
“I think it’s always the confident thing, you have to earn it,” Koivu said. “I think it’s for every player, every team. You have to find a way at the beginning of the season to build the confidence. I think we’ve been doing a good job lately, and obviously when you win some games you get the points that builds the confidence as a team.”
Minnesota has trailed in eight of 12 victories, including three rallies from being at least two goals down. One of those comebacks was a 4-3 overtime win against Anaheim on Oct. 6, an all-too familiar outcome for the Ducks.
A night after watching a third-period lead slip away on a pair of fluky goals, Anaheim was the opportunistic team early against the Wild, leading 2-1 after two periods despite being outshot 20-9.
But the Ducks let another third-period lead slip.
“It’s not the first one,” Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer said. “It’s getting old, that’s for sure. You have yourself the lead late in the third, you should be able to get the win and two points in pretty much all of those cases. Once in a while, maybe not.”
Lupul had missed seven games with back spasms. The winger opened the scoring just over 6 minutes into the first as he fired a shot over Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom‘s left shoulder. Play continued as the goal was waved off, but Lupul earned credit for his seventh of the season after a review showed the shot ricochet off the back pipe and back out to the faceoff circle.
NOTES: The Wild‘s four-game winning streak is its longest since October 2008. … A day after his franchise-record 19-game point streak was snapped, RW Corey Perry was back at it with an assist on Lupul’s first goal. Perry has 16 points in 17 career games against the Wild, including two goals and two assists in the three contests this season. … Ducks D Scott Niedermayer went down awkwardly after being hit by a shot in the second period, but he later returned. … The Ducks have killed off 24 of their last 26 penalties. They’ve also scored a power-play goal in five of their last six games.