Anaheim Ducks Survive, Win 5-4 Thriller over Minnesota Wild

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Dec 5, 2014; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Anaheim Ducks forward Patrick Maroon (19) celebrates with forward Ryan Getzlaf (15) after defeating the Minnesota Wild 5-4 at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks got their two-game road trip started off with a win, overcoming a key injury and a third-period deficit to defeat the Minnesota Wild 5-4. It was the Ducks’ third straight win, propelling them to 39 standings points, which is tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning for most in the NHL.

Ryan Kesler got the scoring started just 91 seconds into the game. Cam Fowler threw a stretch pass, and Kyle Palmieri got a chip on it. Kesler blazed past Nino Niederreiter to get into the offensive zone alone, and he fired a shot past Darcy Kuemper to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead. That was Kesler’s seventh goal of the season and first goal since November 15th against the Los Angeles Kings. Fowler extended his point streak to four games with the secondary assist.

At the 11:44 mark, the Ducks would extend their lead to 2-0. After Nate Thompson and Keith Ballard were sent off for fighting, Devante Smith-Pelly won the ensuing faceoff in the offensive zone. Andrew Cogliano got to a puck behind the net, and he put a backhand shot into the goal crease. Kuemper got the save, but the rebound fell right to Jakob Silfverberg, who put the puck past the goaltender to extend the Ducks’ lead. The goal was Silfverberg’s second of the season, and he extended his point streak to three games.

Kesler struck again with his second goal of the game to make it 3-0. Tim Jackman and Nate Prosser were engaged in a puck battle in the neutral zone, and Hampus Lindholm backhanded a pass into the middle of the ice. Kesler won a race to the puck against Jason Pominville, and the center stormed in past Jared Spurgeon and shot the puck past Kuemper at the 2:28 mark of the second period. It was Kesler’s second multi-goal game of the season, with the first coming November 12th against the Los Angeles Kings. Lindholm recorded the primary assist, giving him points in four of the past five games (one goal, three assists).

However, the Wild would storm back starting with a power-play sequence. Ryan Getzlaf was called for a delay of game penalty (puck over glass) at the 3:57 mark, and Kesler would get called for a high-stick on Zach Parise just 28 seconds after that. The Wild would have 92 seconds of 5-on-3 play, and they would make the Ducks pay. Mikael Granlund and Marco Scandella passed the puck along the blue-line before Granlund passed the puck down to Mikko Koivu. Koivu tried to fire a pass through the goal crease, but it deflected off the skate of Clayton Stoner past Frederik Andersen to cut the lead to 3-1 at the 4:59 mark. The goal was Koivu’s fourth of the season and first power-play tally.

The Wild were left with 86 seconds of power-play time on the Kesler minor, and they struck immediately. Koivu won the faceoff against Silfverberg, and the puck came back to Jonas Brodin. He passed the puck to Granlund in the neutral zone, and then the young Finn made a spinning pass to Parise, who entered the offensive zone with the puck and shot at Andersen’s five-hole. Andersen got a piece of the shot, but it trickled through him for another power-play goal, making the score 3-2 at the 5:10 mark on Parise’s tenth goal. Minnesota’s power-play was 7/79 entering the 5-on-3, yet they converted both ends. Despite having scored just nine power-play goals, Minnesota has three games where they have scored multiple times on the power-play.

The Wild would tie the game with 2:11 left in the second period. On an earlier sequence, the Ducks had a potential power-play goal reviewed: there was doubt as to whether a Kesler shot had crossed the line, but play went on until the whistle. It was deemed that the puck never crossed, but replays showed that Prosser covered the puck in the crease, which would warrant a penalty shot. However, a penalty shot cannot be given over review, so play had to resume. On the ensuing rush, Pominville got to the puck behind the net and fired a pass to the point to Brodin, who skated to his left and fired a shot through traffic past Andersen. It was Brodin’s first goal of the season.

In the third period, the Wild would strike first, taking a 4-3 lead just 2:07 into the third. Prosser made a backhanded pass before getting knocked down by a falling Kesler. Kyle Brodziak to the puck and passed to Justin Fontaine. Fontaine shot the puck, and it squirted through Andersen into the net, giving Fontaine his second goal of the season.

The Ducks would tie the game very quickly, however. Jackman received a pass from Kesler and entered the offensive zone before unleashing a shot on Kuemper, who made the initial stop. However, Jackman crashed the net and got to his own rebound, and he pocketed the second attempt at the 3:37 mark for his second goal of the season. That gave Kesler his third point of the night, his third three-point game this season. It also gave Kesler 21 points on the season, tying him with Sami Vatanen for third most on the team.

The Ducks would re-take the lead at the 8:28 mark. Getzlaf, Kyle Palmieri, and Matt Beleskey got a cycle going in the offensive zone, and Getzlaf sent a backhand pass to Beleskey, who swept the puck past Kuemper for his 13th goal of the season. That gave Beleskey his third goal in four games and sixth in eight, and it extended Getzlaf’s point-streak to four games (two goals, seven assists). This goal also forced Wild coach Mike Yeo to pull Kuemper for Niklas Backstrom.

While the Ducks got a nice regulation win on the road, they suffered a potentially serious injury to one of their key players. Corey Perry exited the game at the 9:40 mark of the first period on a power-play after taking a hip-check from Ballard. Perry crashed to the ice and was clutching his left knee as he was helped off the ice. Perry did not return with what the team diagnosed as a lower-body injury, and his status for Sunday is in doubt.

That said, the Ducks managed to get a win in regulation against a team that both generates and prevents shots on goal. They saw a three-goal lead turned into a one-goal deficit, but they fought back to re-take the lead, despite playing without their best winger for the final 50 minutes.

Here are my three stars for the game.