Anaheim Ducks Come Back, Defeat Minnesota Wild 2-1

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October 17, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry (10) celebrates his goal scored against the Minnesota Wild during the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

With the team returning from a four game road trip to open the season, the Anaheim Ducks and their fans seemed excited to return to the Honda Center for the team’s home opener. After going 3-1-0 against Pittsburgh, Detroit, Buffalo, and Philadelphia, the Ducks were welcomed with a test against a strong Minnesota Wild team, who posted consecutive shutouts over the Colorado Avalanche in a home-and-home series.

For the first 40 minutes, the Ducks were thoroughly outplayed, unable to establish anything in the neutral zone. The team failed to complete passes and had numerous giveaways, and the Minnesota forecheck was ferocious and wreaking havoc on the Anaheim Ducks in their third of the ice. Meanwhile, the Ducks seemed unable to solve the big, 6’5 Darcy Kuemper in net.

When Clayton Stoner took a roughing penalty at 2:05 in the third period, it seemed that the Ducks were facing a deficit far larger than 1-0. However, that changed with one move. A Cam Fowler clearing attempt deflected off the stick of Devante Smith-Pelly, and Andrew Cogliano used his game-changing speed to generate a shorthanded breakaway attempt. He sent a backhand past Kuemper at the 4:02 mark of the third to end the goalie’s shutout streak.

The shorthanded goal also seemed to energize both the Ducks team and the Honda Center crowd, as the team played its best period of the game in the third. Later in the period, Jason Zucker tried to make a pass to Ryan Carter, but it got caught in Carter’s skates. Corey Perry swooped in and took a shot, and the rebound fell straight to Nate Thompson, who fed Perry again for the winger’s fifth goal of the season to make it 2-1 with 8:25 left in the third period.

The Minnesota Wild really asserted themselves early in this game and looked like a team with a lot of rest. Having not played since Saturday, October 11th, the Wild used their skating and forecheck to sustain pressure in the offensive zone and generate turnovers. Defenseman Hampus Lindholm finished with four giveaways and did not look comfortable handling or skating with the puck after repeated harassment by the Wild players.

While the first period went scoreless, the Minnesota Wild eventually tacked on the first score of the game. Zucker zipped a shot past Frederik Andersen just 2:08 into the second period after Stoner lost his balance backchecking on the play.

The Anaheim Ducks’ power play struggled yet again, going 0/4 on the night. Minnesota was tremendous in the faceoff circle tonight, winning 36 of 64 draws, including a perfect 9/9 when shorthanded, which was a big reason why the Ducks struggled to generate good chances with the man advantage. The Wild had control of the neutral zone tonight, and winning the faceoffs while shorthanded let them clear seconds off the power play.

Andersen was spectacular in goal for the Ducks tonight, stopping 27 of 28 shots to record his fourth straight win. The Wild generated chaos in front of his goal crease throughout the night, but he stopped everything outside of the Zucker shot in the second period. He had three great saves on noted goal-scoring threat Thomas Vanek, who led all players in the game with seven shots on goal.

The game ended on an ugly note. Ryan Kesler finished his check on Mikael Granlund as time was expiring, and a scrum ensued at the wall, with Kesler and Zach Parise getting into it the most. The two US Olympians received major penalties (charging for Kesler, cross-checking for Parise). Parise also received a game misconduct.

As always, here are my three stars from the Anaheim Ducks tonight.