ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Minnesota Wild had plenty to prove Sunday night against the Anaheim Ducks, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season and went on to win their first Stanley Cup title.
Brian Rolston and Mark Parrish scored second-period goals and Josh Harding posted his third career shutout with a career-high 37 saves, leading the unbeaten Wild to a testy 2-0 victory. The loss spoiled the season-debut of goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
"That's going to be the thing with us this year," Ducks defenseman Sean O'Donnell said. "When you win the Cup, every team we play -- when we come to town or when they come here -- it's going to be their 'statement game.' We're kind of the measuring stick against other teams now. So I'm sure we're going to get the other team's best effort every single time. We've just got to push ourselves and rise above that."
Minnesota's 5-0 start leaves the Wild as the NHL's only team without a loss, and puts them one victory away from matching last season's squad for the franchise's best winning streak from the start of a season. Three of the victories have been shutouts.
Jacques Lemaire, the only head coach the Wild has ever had, spent his entire 12-year playing career with Montreal and never started a season better than 4-0 with the Canadiens -- despite winning eight Stanley Cups and scoring the Cup-winning goal twice. So he isn't surprised to see the Ducks getting off to a 2-4-1 start.
"When you win the Cup, that's what happens," Lemaire said. "They're having a slow start, which is normal because of all they went through last year -- and the short summer. But their guys will get their minds on the game and get back to where they should be, and they'll probably finish first in the conference this year."
Giguere, who recorded a franchise-record 36 victories last season and 13 more in the playoffs, faced 25 shots. He sat out the first six games after undergoing surgery on Aug. 6 for a sports hernia.
Rolston scored on Minnesota's first shot of the second period, slapping the puck over Giguere's glove from the top of the right circle at the 2:04 mark. Parrish made it 2-0 at 11:50 of the period.
"I don't want to make too much of this win, but they're the Stanley Cup champions. So we'll keep that in mind and we'll try to keep getting better," Rolston said. "It was a chippy game and a hard-fought game. It was like a playoff hockey game."
The Ducks (2-4-1) vanquished Minnesota in the first round last season. During the pregame stake leading up to the Game 5 clincher at Anaheim, Ducks enforcer George Parros scuffled with Minnesota counterpart Derek Boogaard after Boogaard skated past Chris Pronger at center ice and allegedly elbowed him in the back of the shoulder.
In Game 4 of that series, Minnesota defenseman Kim Johnsson suffered a head injury when Brad May sucker-punched him during a skirmish between two other players during the final two minutes. May received a match penalty and a subsequent three-game suspension.
"Everyone knew that they felt like some things happened last year they didn't like, and I'm pretty sure they had this game circled on the calendar," O'Donnell said. "They played a pretty solid game and physically rose to the challenge, but we expected that from them after last year's playoff."
Boogaard and Lemaire refused to shake hands with the Ducks at the end of the series, and the bad blood spilled over into this game -- as expected.
"I wasn't here last year, but one of the things the guys were talking about was showing that team that we weren't going to be pushed around," Minnesota center Eric Belanger said.
"I guess it was hyped beforehand, and I guess it lived up to the hype," Rolston said. "Obviously last year, the shot that Brad gave Johnsson we thought was a bit of a cheap shot. But tonight when Boogy lined up with them, Brad answered the bell and did what a tough guy does."
The main event came at 5:36 of the second between Boogaard and Parros, who won on a TKO.
"Everybody respects what George does. He stands up for his teammates," O'Donnell said. "Having guys like George and Brad adds a lot of character to this team and lets the guys know that their backs are being watched."
Just seconds before that brawl, Boogaard knocked down Giguere as he went out to cut down the angle on Stephane Veilleux -- whose point-blank wrist shot struck Ducks forward Mark Mowers as he was skating across the crease behind his goalie.
- Both times Minnesota made the playoffs, they were eliminated by Anaheim. In 2003, Giguere shut them out in the first three games of the Western Conference final and gave up one goal in the Game 4 clincher.
- Bertuzzi missed the final two periods because of a possible concussion.
- The Ducks were 0-for-8 on the power play, and are 1-for-23 over their last four games.