Tonight, the Minnesota Wild fell to the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 3-1. The better team definitely won, as Minnesota just seemed to struggle from the start. Here’s your period-by-period recap.
The first period was clearly dominated by the Ducks, but ended with Minnesota up by one off of a Marco Scandella snap shot to the right of Fasth. It was a good thing, too, because it made up for a bad play made by the young Wild defenseman earlier in the period. Scandella had gathered the puck behind the Wild net, giving his team time to make a line change, then tried to pass the puck up to the left of Nicklas Backstrom but it was intercepted by the Ducks’ Teemu Selanne. Selanne attempted a quick wrap-a-round, but Backstrom shut the back door just in time to rob one of the NHL’s best of what should have been an easy goal.
Marco’s redemption goal came off the momentum of a great Wild penalty kill on a Pierre-Marc Bouchard Hi-Sticking penalty. Bouchard himself came out of the box and, with a great effort from Matt Cullen as well, the puck found itself on Scandella’s tape and the young blue-liner skated to the top of the left circle and snapped a shot that plowed through Fasth and into the back of the net at the 9:44 mark of the first. Though the Ducks easily led the Wild in shots in the first by a total of 13-6, Minnesota was up 1-0.
During the second period, the Wild would get more chances and nearly matched Anaheim shot for shot. However, a broken up play in the neutral zone by Selanne saw a two-on-one in the Wild zone with Bobby Ryan and Kyle Palmieri against rookie Jonas Brodin. With a nifty move of his stick, Ryan dished the puck to Palmieri who picked the corner on a sprawling Backstrom at the 6:49 mark of the second to tie it up 1-1. Minnesota had a great chance to tie it up just a little later when Devin Setoguchi came in on a breakaway. The Anaheim defenders did a good job hampering him and he fired the shot wide of Fasth and the Ducks’ net. Though the game was tied, Minnesota and Anaheim played an even game in the second, firing 8 and 9 shots on goal, respectively.
In the third period, it was all Anaheim. Their aggressive play right from the drop of the puck would result in the go-ahead goal less than five minutes into the period. After winning a key faceoff in the Wild’s defensive zone, the Ducks made sure it stayed in and Palmieri feasted off a beautiful feed from Selanne behind the net to score his second goal of the game at the 4:21 mark of the third. That took the wind out of a struggling Minnesota squad. After failing to convert on a power play chance late in the game, Minnesota went without a man on a Tom Gilbert tripping penalty. Minnesota looked good on the kill…until Ryan Getzlaf passed the puck to Selanne at the side of the net, who then chipped it across the blue paint to Ryan for the tap in. Tic-tac-goal, Anaheim was up 3-1 at the 18:26 mark of the third. The Ducks would outshoot Minnesota 31-27 on the night in collecting the victory.
And that was, essentially, all she wrote. The Wild fall to 4-3-1 and remain at nine points in the Northwest Division, good enough for a two-way tie for second with Edmonton. At best, Minnesota can pick up two of the four possible points available on this short road trip. Monday’s game against Phoenix is certainly more crucial now than ever.
Is there a consolation prize for Minnesota? You bet—the Wild may have acquired the steal of the draft when they chose Swedish defenseman Jonas Brodin with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. I may sound like a broken record, but I can’t say enough about this kid. He plays a real solid defensive game, skates effortlessly, can be very physical, has a hockey I.Q. that is through the roof, plays at an elite NHL level and has been displaying an amazing slap shot that will be quite lethal once he dials it in. Though he was a negative-1 on the night and did have one giveaway, he fired three shots on net, blocked three shots and played 22:39 minutes of game action, second only to defensive partner Ryan Suter. Minnesota fans can rest easy knowing he’ll be manning the blue line on the No. 1 pairing for many years to come.