Minnesota at Anaheim

Wild rally past reeling Ducks

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Minnesota Wild pulled off another rally on the road. The penalty-prone Anaheim Ducks were kicking themselves again after blowing another early lead and watching the visiting team take the game away from them.

Nick Johnson scored the go-ahead goal with 5:31 left in the third period, and Casey Wellman and Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored 32 seconds apart in the second period, leading the Wild to a 5-3 victory against the Ducks on Sunday night.

This was the third consecutive road game for Minnesota in which it overcame a two-goal deficit to win. It also was the 11th time this season that Minnesota has won when its opponent scored first, the most in the NHL. The victory ended a streak of 14 consecutive meetings between the clubs at Honda Center in which the team that scored first won.

"We have a group of guys in there that are not going to quit, they're not going to give up and look for excuses," rookie coach Mike Yeo said. "One thing we can really credit our success with is that we try not to get wrapped up in the score. We just know that it's about the next shift, going out and playing our game. All it takes is one play to get us right back in there."

Josh Harding, who took over in net for an injured Niklas Backstrom after the first period of Minnesota's 4-2 victory against New Jersey on Friday night and stopped all 22 shots he faced, made 24 saves against the Ducks in his first start since Nov. 25 while rookie Matt Hackett served as his backup.

Dany Heatley scored a power-play goal and Kyle Clutterbuck added a short-handed empty-netter with 10.2 seconds left for Minnesota in the opener of a five-game trip. Matt Cullen had three assists for Minnesota against his former club.

The victory put the Wild atop the overall NHL standings with 37 points. They are off to their best start in the franchise's 11-year history at 17-7-3, and have won four straight and nine of 11 -- a stretch that began with a 3-2 victory against the Ducks on Nov. 13 at Anaheim.

"It's easy to say it, but we're kind of walking the walk a little bit," Cullen said. "You preach: 'Stay with it, stay confident, stay with the game plan and it's going to come.' We're finding a way to stick with it, stay positive on the bench and play our game. That's a huge key for us."

Anaheim is 0-2 since recently deposed Washington coach Bruce Boudreau replaced Randy Carlyle behind the bench. The Ducks, who have won only three of their past 21 games, squandered a 2-0 lead just two nights after blowing a 3-0 advantage in Boudreau's debut -- a 4-3 overtime loss to Philadelphia.

"It's tough when you're up 3-0 and 2-0 in these games and lose both of them," reigning MVP Corey Perry said. "We got away from our game plan again, and once we do that, we're not the same team. We were sitting on our heels and turning the puck over."

Ryan Getzlaf, Saku Koivu and Cam Fowler scored for Anaheim and Jonas Hiller made 31 saves in his 200th regular-season game. Teemu Selanne, the Ducks' career leader in goals, assists, points, power-play goals, game-winners and games played, had two assists in his 800th regular-season game with the club.

Fowler tied it at 3 with 9:15 to play. But Johnson got his fourth goal of the season when he converted a centering pass from Clutterbuck as Johnson and defenseman Luca Sbisa both crashed into Hiller. The puck went in off Johnson's skate, but a brief video review allowed the goal to stand up.

"It's a tough play," Sbisa said. "The guy threw it to the net, I tried to control the guy's stick and had his stick up. But it went off his skate and in. I've got to try to maybe be more to the inside of him and kept him behind me. It's frustrating when you lose on a goal like that. That wasn't the best play on my part, but I've got to learn from that."

Wellman, playing in his third game of the season following his recall from Houston of the AHL last Monday, tied it at 2 at 15:18 of the second when he converted Cullen's centering pass.

"We're not playing solid in our own end, and that's why we're not winning," Hiller said. "We were playing well the first 10 minutes, because we were fighting hard, and then we relaxed again. You can have all the skills, but if you're not working hard in your own end, you're not going to win any games."

The Wild took the lead moments later when Bouchard beat Hiller high to the glove side with a 17-foot backhander. At that point, Boudreau called a timeout to settle his team and lift their spirits.

"I said to them: 'Don't hang your head. You look like you're a beaten crew,' " Boudreau said. " 'If you can't face adversity in hockey, you're not going to get anywhere. Pull up your socks and get mad, rather than feeling sorry for yourselves.' When they got the third goal, it was like, 'Oh, woe is us.' So you've got to get that mindset out of them right away and be able to say: 'Let's go get it back.' "

A 5-on-3 power play late in the first enabled Minnesota to come off the mat, after Bobby Ryan was sent off for interference and Toni Lydman joined him in 33 seconds later for high-sticking Devin Setoguchi. Heatley beat Hiller on a screened 35-foot slap shot between the circles with only 3.2 seconds left in the period and the Wild still on a two-man advantage.

"That one stemmed from a turnover where you've got to get the puck out of your end when you get the opportunity. Good teams do that, and we didn't," Boudreau said. "Then we take the high-sticking penalty, and then made the mistake of chasing with four seconds to go in the period. It comes right back to the slot, where there's nobody covering Heatley -- and everybody knows what kind of a shot he's got. Consequently, it goes in."

Notes

  • Of the eight head coaches in Ducks history, Boudreau is the third to lose his first two games. Ron Wilson won on his third try, and Craig Hartsburg on his fourth attempt.
  • This was the first time in their 17 wins this season that the Wild allowed more than two goals.
  • Minnesota C Colton Gillies was a healthy scratch for the second time this season. He is one of five forwards currently on an NHL roster who has played at least 25 games this season without scoring a goal. The others are Calgary RW Tim Jackman, Edmonton C Eric Belanger, Washington C Matt Hendricks and Winnipeg RW Chris Thorburn.
  • The Koivu brothers have played against each other 12 times in the NHL, and they have each been on the winning six times. Saku has two goals and four assists and his younger sibbling has four goals and five assists -- one of them on Heatley's goal.
  • Minnesota has won four straight on the road for the first time since a five-game stretch in March 2007.
  • Ducks LW Jason Blake and D Matt Smaby, both of whom were born in Minnesota, have missed all three meetings with the Wild because of injuries. Smaby (Minneapolis) is recovering from surgery on his right thumb and Blake (Moorhead) has a lacerated left wrist.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Minnesota's Matt Cullen bags three assists against his former team, the Anaheim Ducks. (Getty Images)
Minnesota's Matt Cullen bags three assists against his former team, the Anaheim Ducks. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Minnesota  (17-7-3) «1225
Anaheim (7-14-5)2013
Three Stars
M. Cullen
MIN


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 3
T. Selanne
ANA


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 2
F. Beauchemin
ANA


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 0
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
05:57Power Play - Ryan Getzlaf (6), Snap Shot. Assist: Perry, Selanne
09:25 - Saku Koivu (5), Snap Shot. Assist: Selanne, Beleskey
19:56Power Play - Dany Heatley (8), Slap Shot. Assist: Cullen, Koivu
2ND PERIOD
15:18 - Casey Wellman (2), Tip-In. Assist: Cullen, Bouchard
15:50 - Pierre-Marc Bouchard (4), Backhand Shot. Assist: Cullen, Wellman
3RD PERIOD
10:45 - Cam Fowler (3), Tip-In, Unassisted.
14:29 - Nick Johnson (4), Tip-In. Assist: Clutterbuck, Brodziak
19:49Short - Cal Clutterbuck (8), Empty Net, Unassisted.
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
05:42Schultz, 2 min, High-Sticking
10:28Jacques, 5 min, Fighting
10:28Staubitz, 5 min, Fighting
18:30Ryan, 2 min, Interference
19:03Lydman, 2 min, High-Sticking
2ND PERIOD
08:05Stoner, 2 min, Hooking
11:10Sbisa, 2 min, Interference
3RD PERIOD
18:02Koivu, 2 min, Cross-Checking
Shots On Goal
 123T
MIN1713636
ANA941427
 
Other Games
Det 2 Final
Colo 4
Cal 1 Final
Van 5