ANAHEIM, Calif. – Forget the cake and candles. Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan got Kyle Palmieri what he really wanted on his 22nd birthday.
Two goals, tons of scoring chances and the promise of many more on their potent line for the surging Anaheim Ducks.
Palmieri’s second goal broke a tie early in the third period, and Ryan’s power-play goal with 1:34 left sealed the Ducks’ 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.
Selanne had three assists, and Ryan added two more in the Ducks’ fourth win in six games to start the season. Palmieri produced his second multigoal performance in his 34th career NHL game, and the promising youngster is grateful for the chance to skate with two proven NHL scorers.
“I just have to keep working hard with these guys, and all of these opportunities will come,” Palmieri said. “I’ve just got to keep working hard. Me and Bobby had basically tap-in (goals), and they were all caused by Teemu’s passing. That vision he has definitely doesn’t stop with goal-scoring.”
Anaheim went ahead 4:21 into the third period on a slick setup by Palmieri’s veteran linemates. After Ryan won a faceoff, Selanne threaded a beautiful pass between two defenders who got caught moving the wrong way to stop a one-timer by Palmieri.
Viktor Fasth made 26 saves for Anaheim, including several tough stops in the waning minutes after giving up a soft early goal in his second career victory. The Ducks still couldn’t get comfortable until Selanne backhanded a pass across the crease to Ryan for his second goal of the season with 1:34 to play.
“Teemu and the guys all wanted the ketchup bottle to open,” said Ryan, the longtime right wing who gets fired up by the chance to play centre. “It felt good and meant a lot to the team. … Palms adds a different dynamic, and it helps our line. He gets to some difficult pucks, and we get rewarded because of it.”
With his first three-assist game since Feb. 11, 2011, the 42-year-old Selanne tied Doug Gilmour for 17th place on the NHL’s career scoring list with 1,414 points.
Niklas Backstrom stopped 28 shots for the Wild, who are winless in three road games this season. Defenceman Marco Scandella scored Minnesota’s only goal in the first period, and the Wild’s top line was largely ineffective against Anaheim’s defence.
“They didn’t give us a lot of room through the neutral zone, and a lot of it was our fault,” leading scorer Zach Parise said. “We didn’t make good plays and didn’t put each other in good positions for the next guy to make a play. So we kind of played right into their hands and allowed their D to stay up. We were in our own zone all night and didn’t do a good job of breaking out.”
Minnesota coach Mike Yeo praised his goaltending, but couldn’t say the same about everybody in uniform.
“They played the type of game that we want to play, and they executed a lot better than us,” Yeo said. “We were in a position to steal a game because of Backstrom. He played great, but you don’t win games when you don’t have everybody, and we didn’t have everybody tonight. I don’t care who we’re playing against. You’ve got to execute. If you have one guy doing it and the next guy’s not, then it’s not going to work.”
With Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau apparently saving Jonas Hiller for Saturday’s Freeway Faceoff against the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, Fasth got his second NHL start and remained unbeaten—but the Swedish backup made trouble for himself midway through the first period.
Shortly after a lively Anaheim power play ended without a score, the Wild received a gift goal when Fasth couldn’t close his pads on a long, innocuous shot by Scandella, who got his first goal of the season.
“I’m supposed to have that one,” Fasth said. “The guys played really well in front of me, and it felt good to be able to make some good saves in the third period.”
Early in the second period, Selanne collected Parise’s turnover at mid-ice and got it ahead to Ryan, who made a deceptive cross-ice pass to set up Palmieri’s tying goal.
Sami Vatanen, a 21-year-old puck-moving defenceman, made his NHL debut for the Ducks on the same night Emerson Etem debuted at Honda Center. Etem, a forward from nearby Long Beach, Calif., and the highest-drafted Southern California product in Ducks history, made his NHL debut Tuesday in San Jose.
NOTES: Anaheim D Toni Lydman was scratched in favour of Vatanen, his fellow Finn. The Ducks are trying to limit the grind of back-to-back games on the 35-year-old Lydman. … The Koivu brothers met in an NHL game for the 14th time, with Saku improving to 7-3-4 against younger brother Mikko, the Wild captain. Both brothers are off to outstanding starts to their seasons, scoring more than a point per game. … Etem and Vatanen are the third and fourth Ducks to make their NHL debuts this season, joining two Swedes: Fasth and Rickard Rakell.