The Anaheim Ducks beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Tuesday night. It was an ugly win for the Ducks who were held to just 7 shots over the first two periods. The Wild let them hang around too long and ran into a hot goalie in Jonas Hiller who stopped 30 of 31 shots on the night. Minnesota squandered several power play opportunities throughout the game. Two of the biggest were a 1:28 five on three a little over 9 minutes into the 1st period and a five minute major in the second. During both the Wild couldn’t seem to get organized and as Head Coach Mike Yeo said after the game,“We looked like a power play that hasn’t had any practice time, and that’s because we haven’t had any practice time.” The Wild had 5 power plays on the night and scored on one of them. Even that one came on an ugly excuse of a power play. The single goal Minnesota managed to score came from the stick of Devin Setoguchi who beat Hiller five hole with a one-timer from the left circle. It was a feed from Matt Cullen cross ice that set up the shot and goal. The Wild had an apparent goal by Torrey Mitchell overturned by video review. At the 2:27 mark of the first he appeared to flip the puck past Hiller off the crossbar. An overhead shot seemed to show the spinning puck over the goal line but the brain trust in Toronto thought otherwise. They really screwed the Wild on that one. Apparently Toronto watched that one on a 1975 Magnavox black and white monitor. WIld Head Coach Yeo had his opinion of the goal review as well, “That’s what Toronto saw. That was the explanation. I don’t know the exact mathematics of it. My feeling is the goal line is below the crossbar, and the puck is inside the crossbar, that would explain to me that the puck is over the goal line. But I don’t know the exact mathematics of it. That wasn’t something I majored in.”
By far the ugliest moment in the game came when Anaheim’s Corey Perry laid Wild Jason Zucker out with a vicious, dirty and late hit to the head. The puck was clearly gone when Perry bindsided Zucker. Hell the puck was clear up to the damn blue line. The Wild rookie lay motionless on the ice for a time as trainers and then a Dr were summoned. After several minutes passed Zucker was assisted from the ice by a pair of teammates and handed off to the Wild training staff. It will be some time Wednesday before we have an update on his condition. I’d say that Perry will be having a serious conversation with NHL director of player safety Brendan Shanahan During his phone hearing Wednesday. A suspension is surely warranted given the nature of the hit and its effect on Zucker. Perry is a repeat offender, he was suspended in 2009 for targeting Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux with a head shot. As such, the hit to his pocketbook will be greater. As it should be. Perry showed no emotion or concern for the player he hit as he sat for a moment in the penalty box and then slowly skated across the ice and disappeared down the tunnel. After the game Perry said he didn’t mean to injure Zucker and he doesn’t play the game that way. Yeah, that’s what they all say. Enjoy your suspension.
With the loss the Wild fall out of first in the Northwest Division and now trail Vancouver by two points. Minnesota is 13-10-2 overall, 9-3-1 at home, and net minder Backstrom is now 11-7-2 on the season. The Western Conference is still a log jam with the Wild now holding the 8th playoff spot when they were third just 12hrs ago. The difference is just 4 points from 3rd to 11th place. The important thing for Minnesota is to get some practice in tomorrow before they play an important couple of games, (aren’t they all this year) a home and home series with the Colorado Avalanche. There were some positives to take fro tonight’s game. The Wild out shot the Duckies 22 to 7 over the first two periods. They scored first for the 5th game in a row. They did score a power play goal. It just was not enough to hold off the #2 team in the conference. The Duck converted on a couple of chances, getting goals from guys who don’t score very often. A bounce here, a bounce there and tonight has a different outcome. Wild Captain Mikko Koivu did have the game on his stick with 10 seconds to play but his shot whistled harmlessly over the goal. That’s how it goes in the NHL, sometimes you don’t score the tying goal on your birthday. Post game Minnesota Coach Yeo summed up the night, “That’s the story of the game. It’s missed opportunities. I think it’s just extremely important for us to regroup from this. You have to regroup and come back to the rink with the right mindset after emotional wins and you’ve got to do the same thing after an emotional loss. This one stings right now. But nobody else is going to feel sorry for is. Not Colorado.”
A couple of other quick notes from the Wild today. Enforcer Matt Kassian was traded to the Ottawa Senator’s for a 6th round pick in the 2014 draft. He had been a scratch since the start of the year with the Wild and had recently been shipped to Houston after clearing waivers. Those of you at the game or watching at home may have noticed a goalie wearing number 31 and wearing blue pads taking shots in warm ups for the Ducks. Goalie Victor Fasth was injured during the morning skate and Anaheim called up Jeff Deslauriers from ECHL Fort Wayne. His plane didn’t land until game time so the Ducks signed local goaltender coach Zach Sikich to a one day contract. He was on the Ducks bench for the first 14 minutes of the game until Deslauriers arrived. GonePuckWild.com will keep you abreast of all the Minnesota Wild news and information. Up next the Avalanche come calling on Thursday. Until then this is Scott Drain saying LET’S GO WILD!!