Wild fight back for win over Ducks in HDM finale
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Known as a steady, minute-munching defenseman, Ryan Suter also had a big game at the other end of the rink Saturday night.
Suter, Erik Haula and Jason Zucker scored in a two-minute span late in the third period, and the Minnesota Wild rallied for a 5-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
It was the second goal of the game for both Haula and Zucker.
The Western Conference-leading Wild are 19-2-1 in their last 22 games.
"It was loud, the crowd was into it, it was a lot of fun," said Suter, who tied a career high with a plus-4 on his 32nd birthday and improved to an NHL-best plus-30.
Suter entered second in per-game average ice time of 27:11. He also had an assist for his sixth multipoint game of the season.
Should he now be considered a goal scorer, too?
"Are you trying to jinx it?" Suter said with a laugh. "When we're playing good, we know we're going to score goals."
It was the third time in nine games Minnesota came from two goals down to win.
"I think a lot of guys are confident that they can do it over and over again. Certainly we wouldn't like to do it all the time. You like to be able to think that you can do it when you have to," coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said his club's sloppiness led to the downfall.
"I would just categorize it as the goals that we gave were gifts. They didn't have to really work as we did for ours in my estimation," he said.
Stefan Noesen, Cam Fowler and Corey Perry scored for Anaheim, which lost goalie John Gibson in the first period with an upper-body injury.
It was the first time in 10 games that Anaheim allowed more than two goals and the first time in 19 games it lost when leading after two periods.
"You're going to have some ups and downs during the course of the year. This is another time that we certainly are going to have to regroup, but it's certainly disappointing," Fowler said.
Zucker redirected a pass from Suter behind Jonathan Bernier at 13:59 of the third, firing up the capacity crowd. Before that goal was announced, Suter tried to center a pass from behind the goal line, but it deflected off Bernier's skate and into the net 36 seconds later.
Zucker added a breakaway goal to cap the flurry.
The Ducks are 8-2-1 in January and have points in 13 of their last 15 games. Their other regulation loss: at home to Minnesota on Jan. 8.
Haula and Noesen scored early in the first and Fowler scored on a short-handed breakaway later in the period for a 2-1 Anaheim lead.
A sharp-angle shot from Mikko Koivu appeared to hit Gibson in the upper chest with 5:39 to play in the first period. After being attended to by a trainer, Gibson gingerly skated to the bench and went straight to the locker room.
Gibson, who was 7-1-1 with two shutouts in his past nine starts, was replaced by Bernier. He finished with 16 saves.
"He just felt he couldn't play. It's as simple as that," Carlyle said. "The full assessment from our medical staff, I really haven't had a chance to talk to them."
Perry put Anaheim up 3-1 early in the second period, jamming home a centering attempt from Ryan Getzlaf.
Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk, the NHL leader in goals-against average and save percentage, has given up at least three goals in six of his last nine starts.
Off a turnover by Sami Vatanen in the Ducks zone, Zucker whistled a shot past Bernier at 5:03 to get the Wild to 3-2.
NOTES: Ducks RW Jakob Silfverberg, who left Thursday's game with an upper-body injury, is not with the team. It's the first game missed this season by the team's third-leading goal scorer (13). . . . Minnesota LW Zach Parise had his first point in six games with an assist on Haula's goal. . . . The Wild recalled RW Kurtis Gabriel from AHL Iowa. He fought Anaheim's Nick Ritchie in the first period.
Ducks: At the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.
Wild: Wrap up a four-game homestand Sunday against Nashville.