Minnesota headed in to Friday night's game 7-2-1 in their last ten games, but coming off a 2-1 win in which Wild fans at the Xcel Energy Center vociferously booed the hell out of the power play.
The power play, ironically, was what jump-started the Wild into action as the used a 5-on-3 to crawl back into the game that was came down to which goaltender was going to give up fewer soft goals.
With goals from Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Jonas Brodin, and Justin Fontaine, the Wild came up just short to Ryan Kesler and the Anaheim Ducks.
The first period resembled the first period against the Los Angeles Kings on the night before Thanksgiving. Kesler got the scoring going with a breakaway goal that beat Wild starter Darcy Kuemper. then Jakob Silfverberg snuck a wrist shot past Kuemper on a pass across the goal crease. Fans were none too pleased with the team's performance in the first period.
Keith Ballard, whose hipchecks are known around the league, drew the ire of Nate Thompson and the Ducks as Ballard was forced to answer the bell after his heavy hipcheck took Corey Perry out for the rest of the game with a lower body injury.
Ryan Kesler got his second of the game after beating Kuemper with just a clean shot under the glove. Kuemper's game didn't appear to be shaky until the second Kesler goal that should have been stopped. He wasn't screened, and it wasn't like the shot just found the only small space that it could have gone through or anything like that.
Then Ryan Getzlaf got called for delay of game for putting the puck over the glass. It may be the dumbest penalty in the league, but the rules are the rules and he needed to feel shame for being Getzlaf, so it was a win-win situation. Shortly after Getzlaf's penalty, Ryan Kesler was flagged for high-sticking Parise in the mouth right next to his scar that he suffered earlier this season. It was a chance for the Wild to work a 5-on-3 power play. After moving the puck around the point, the puck finally ended up on Mikko Koivu's stick at the right side of Frederik Andersen. Koivu tried to send the puck across the crease, but the puck deflected off of Andersen's stick and into the net. Just eleven ticks later Parise let go a hard wrist shot from the left circle that beat Andersen through the 5-hole.
The X was alive and well as the Wild were energized by the two power play goals. The Ducks tried to stem the tide, and almost did, if not for Nate Prosser illegally closing his hand around the puck in the crease and shuffling off the goal line. The refs didn't see it and didn't call it, and they reviewed it to see if it was a goal to no avail for Anaheim. A half minute later Jonas Brodin would make a little move to avoid a checking Duck player and let a rising wrister fly. It was a sweet goal that caught the upper right corner behind Andersen. Brodin, whom was asked to step up taking more minutes in Suter's absence, had a really good game.
Christian Folin got an assist on the Brodin goal and easily played his best game in a Minnesota Wild sweater. He's starting to make strides and will need to be strong as a third pairing guy.
The Wild started the third on the penalty kill and were able to successfully kill it. They kept the Ducks 0-for-4 on the power play for the game. As special teams have gone this year, the PK has absolutely been the bright spot. All that has been done without Matt Cooke, who missed his 18th game of the season with what Wild beat writer Michael Russo classified as a hip flexor.
Just out of the box after serving a Too Many Men penalty, Justin Fontaine got the puck on a partial breakaway and let a slapper go from point-blank range that trickled through Anderssen's pads for the 4-3 lead after trailing 3-0 after the first 24:58 of the game.
Then Tim Jackman was able to get his own rebound on a blocked shot past Kuemper just 90 seconds after Fontaine gave the Wild the lead. Kesler got the lone assist to complete his night with three points. Roughly five minutes later Matt Beleskey chased Kuemper from the net with the Ducks' 5th goal. Kuemper allowed five goals on 18 shots tonight and appears to really be struggling lately. The goaltending needs to pick up in order for the Wild to try and gain ground on the Central Division.
Mike Yeo pulled Niklas Backstrom with 1:30 for the extra-attacker. Minnesota got a couple good shots away, but the time would be cut short after Parise was called for tripping. That was how the game would end. The Wild did well to come all the way back against a very solid team, but not good to cough up the lead again to not even get a point out of it.
The last game of the home stand will be Tuesday as they welcome John Tavares, Cal Clutterbuck and the New York Islanders.