(via NHL.com)

Birthday Boy, Kyle Palmieri, Leads Anaheim Ducks to Victory Over Minnesota Wild

Anaheim, CA – The Anaheim Ducks faced the new look Minnesota Wild for the first time this season tonight at Honda Center. The Wild made a splash over the offseason, acquiring both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to similar multi-million dollar long-term contracts. The Wild’s top line of Dany Heatley-Mikko Koivu-Parise have been one of the best so far in the early going. That did not continue tonight. The Ducks controlled the play for the majority of the game and if it wasn’t for over 20 blocked shots and an in form Niklas Backstrom in net, this game could’ve been worse than the 3-1 final score.

The story of the game was Ducks rookie Kyle Palmieri. The now 22-year-old started the scoring for the Ducks in the second period. Trailing 1-0 due to a Marco Scandella first period goal, Palmieri received a slick pass from Bobby Ryan to put the puck in an almost empty net, 1-1. The two teams would end the second period tied at a goal a piece. Then, under five minutes into the third period, Palmieri struck once again. Teemu Selanne made a cheeky little pass from behind the goal line to Palmieri wide open in front. Palmieri tipped it by the left pad of Backstrom to give the Ducks their first lead of the game. Finally, late in the third period, Ryan put the icing on the cake. Selanne made yet another slick pass across the paint to Ryan for another virtual empty net goal, this one coming on the powerplay. The Wild got a late powerplay where they were able to register five shots, but rookie goalie Viktor Fasthwas good enough to seal the victory for the Ducks.

February 1, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth (30) defends the goal against the Minnesota Wild during the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Fasth made his second career NHL start tonight and got off to a bit of a shaky start with allowing the goal to Scandella. It was a simple wrist shot that slipped through his five hole. So, the Wild had a 1-0 lead after the first period after registering just six shots in the opening frame. Fasth now becomes the first goalie in Anaheim Ducks history to win his first two career NHL starts. In other rookie news, defenseman Sami Vatanen made his NHL debut tonight, becoming the fourth player to make their NHL debut this season for the Ducks. He had just under 14 minutes of ice time. He didn’t register any points but he was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit and 1 blocked shot. He did, however, get time on the powerplay with Luca Sbisa. Vatanen got the start tonight after Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau decided to give Toni Lydman a night off and at the front end of a back-to-back. Another little side note, Corey Perry left the game during the second period after being knocked down by Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner. He did return and seemed to be fine.

Three Stars:

1. ANA Kyle Palmieri (2 G, +2)

2. ANA Bobby Ryan (1 G, 2 A, +1)

3. ANA Teemu Selanne (3 A, +1)

The Ducks return to action tomorrow night when the host cross town rival Los Angeles Kings. It will be the first matchup with the Kings this season. The Kings last played Thursday night when they took a shootout loss to Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators.

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Tags: Anaheim Ducks Bobby Ryan Bruce Boudreau Clayton Stoner Corey Perry Dany Heatley Kyle Palmieri Los Angeles Kings Luca Sbisa Marco Scandella Mikko Koivu Minnesota Wild Nashville Predators NHL Niklas Backstrom Pekka Rinne Ryan Suter Sami Vatanen Teemu Selanne Toni Lydman Viktor Fasth Zach Parise

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