Andy McDonald scored early, Rob Niedermayer scored late, and Bryzgalov stopped 19 shots, leading the Ducks to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night.
Anaheim leads the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final 3-0. Game 4 will be played here Tuesday night, giving the Wild one last chance to get their power play going.
Frustrated all week by Ducks star defencemen Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger and their lesser-known teammates, Minnesota went 1-for-5 on the power play and is 1-for-15 in the series.
And that goal, by Petteri Nummelin, didn’t come until 38.2 seconds remained – the only blemish on another stellar game by Bryzgalov.
Niklas Backstrom made 17 saves, but the Wild didn’t give him – or the sellout crowd – much of a lift. They were in it until the middle of the third period, when Rob Niedermayer, Scott’s less-decorated brother, led a rush up the right side and zipped a shot over Backstrom’s shoulder for a 2-0 lead with 10:17 left.
This was the first post-season game at Xcel Energy Center in nearly four years, the last coming on May 12, 2003, when Jean-Sebastien Giguere shut out Minnesota 2-0 in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
Giguere won the Conn Smythe Trophy that year as the playoffs MVP, but Bryzgalov, who has given up three goals in three games, has quietly begun a similarly impressive stretch. Giguere hasn’t played since March 31, due to a family problem. His son, Maxime Olivier, was born on April 4 with a deformed right eye.
It sure helps Bryzgalov to have such a strong defence in front of him, though.