Anaheim Ducks defeat Minnesota Wild 2 - 1 - Jeff Gross
The Minnesota Wild looked pretty good against the Anaheim Ducks tonight. Playing with a big lead in shots on goal and chances for much of the game. The Wild would find that shots alone are not enough to maintain a 1 goal lead for 60 minutes.
Your Minnesota Wild invited the Anaheim Ducks to the party tonight at the X, but the party, despite the score was pretty one sided. Your Wild out-shot and out-chanced the Anaheim Ducks for a great majority of this contest. Unfortunately missed opportunities and pucks refusing to entirely cross the goal line would lead to their demise in a 2 - 1 loss in regulation to the visiting Anaheim Ducks.
The Wild came out going a hundred miles an hour with their hair on fire. Strong play early led to a chance for Torrey Mitchell who looked to bury a backhand top shelf corner over Jonas Hiller. The puck dinged off the corner of the crossbar and post and dangled across the goal line. Mike Rupp was right their but his attempt to bury it was for not. The attempt would be reviewed but Toronto wasn't feeling generous tonight. Almost immediately following this Mikko Koivu took a somewhat questionable tripping call to put the Wild on an early penalty kill. They looked outstanding from the word go, no shots, no zone time for the Ducks, just pure dominance. Around the 10 minute mark the Ducks would take 2 penalties within 30 seconds, giving the Wild a coveted 5 on 3 advantage. The Wild would get a few good chances but bouncing pucks seemed to get in the way and a few shots just didn't make it on goal with much gusto. Your dreams of a glorious 5 on 3 were vanquished and the teams seemed to get settled in after that. With about 6 minutes to go in the period we present to you your Zenon Konopka fight of the evening. Konopka's victim this time around was a recent Anaheim call up in Patrick Maroon, and this fight went the distance without any real punches being thrown. Your Wild would get another power play late in the period. This power play started out pretty slow, as the Wild seemed to regress back to their standard of looking for the prettiest pass. Devin Setoguchi seemed to have the prettiest pass, connecting with the back on the net putting the Wild up 1 - 0. The period would end that way, the Wild dominant, and the Ducks searching for life. The Wild out-shot the Ducks this frame 8 - 3, with the Ducks getting no good chances in their 3 attempts.
The 2nd period would start out with Ryan Getzlaf taking a tripping penalty in the first minute of play. The first minute of this power play was pretty abysmal folks, with the Ducks getting more chances off bad passes and rolling pucks. The Wild would get their act together for the 2nd half of the power play and get some good chances in close against Hiller, but he was equal to the task and the Ducks escaped the penalty with the score intact. Just over 4 minutes into the period Jason Zucker took a nasty late dirty hit from Correy Perry who got 5 minutes and a game for this infraction. Zucker laid down for a good amount of time on the ice before being helped up and off the ice, he would not return to the game. It appeared to be a full body check, Zucker's head seemed to be targeted and Perry definitely leaves his feet when delivering the hit. The Wild's 5 minute power play did not start off well. Some good zone time early but the Ducks had a little mini flurry of their own while being short a guy. They would get it together for some good zone time and a few shots, maybe a good chance mixed in there but nothing coming on the 5 minute major. After the Ducks 5 minute PK they would put on a little pressure of their own with some good time in the Wild's zone. Not much in the like of shots on goal, but some good extended pressure by the Ducks. The final 5 minutes we saw more of the same, Wild getting some good pressure, getting shots on net, Ducks getting in our zone occasionally but seem to be forgetting you have to actually shoot the puck more often than not if you would like to score a goal. Wild out shooting the Ducks in the game 22 - 7 and I cannot honestly say Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom was forced to make any brilliant stops.
Your 3rd period began much as the 2nd period ended. A fair amount of offensive zone time for your Minnesota Wild, with the Ducks still trying to get their legs under them a bit and figure out how this shots on goal thing works. One such failed shot just over 3 minutes in took a big bounce off the back wall and the Ducks Maroon would get a stick on it and nudge the puck behind Backstrom to tie the game at 1 a piece. Halfway through the period we see the Ducks getting a little more offensive time but still not much in the shot department. Wild center Kyle Broadziak will take a penalty for interference at this point and give the number 1 PP in the league 2 minutes to show us why they are the best in the NHL on the power play. A tense moment or two at the beginning of this, and Backstrom making a sprawling left to right save to cap off the kill. I'm not all that impressed with this number 1 PP in the league, that may have something to do with the 4th best penalty kill in the league in your Minnesota Wild. With the period winding down Wild forward and Ducks defensemen Bryan Allen would take matching roughing penalties, opening up the ice for 2 minutes of 4 on 4 play with just over 5 minutes to go in the period. This time would pass with not much doing for either team, some back and forth but no real opportunities for either. With just over 3 minutes remaining in the game, the Anaheim Ducks Jason Spezza would get the puck after it took a funny bounce off the sidewall stanchion. His shot would find the twine behind Backstrom and after dominating much of the game the Wild find themselves down 2 - 1 with little time left in the game. To make matters worse, Suter decides 70 seconds left in the 3rd is the right time to take a slashing penalty, and now the Wild find themselves down a guy for the remainder of regulation. Pulling Backstrom just to get back to 5 on 5 hockey is not the way you want to finish a game.
The home loss stings, as the Vancouver Canucks decided to win tonight pushing them back into 1st in the Northwest Division. We fought pretty good for most of the game but came out flat in the 3rd and were not able to solve Jonas Hiller in net for the Ducks. A few positives tonight, Wild defensemen Jared Spurgeon look good out there tonight, his stick just seemed to know where to be all game. Setoguchi getting a goal is always a plus after how slow he started the season. Unfortunately the Wild seemed to be back to their ways of not scoring more than once in a game. I'm hoping they don't turn tonights 1 goal dominating loss into a trend going forward.
Of course the story of the game which is on everyone's mind is the health of Wild forward Jason Zucker. The hit he took from Perry has surely earned Perry a trip to league offices to have a sit down with Brendan Shanahan and the Department of Player Safety. Watching the replay you can see the head is targeted, but its tough to say if it was the initial point of contact. Perry seems to leave his feet delivering the hit as well which is always sure to score brownie points with Shanahan. As of this moment, no update on Zucker, Russo did tweet "it doesn't take a rocket scientist..." which doesn't sound good. Who would want a rocket scientist in a situation that requires a doctor anyway? Hopefully Zucker is ok, but don't hold your breath WILDerness.
The Minnesota Wild next play host to the Colorado Avalanche this Thursday at the Excel Energy Center, puck drops at 7pm.