ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Wild acknowledged they were fortunate. The Anaheim Ducks felt they deserved two points instead of one.
While Anaheim dominated much of the second period and all the third on Wednesday night, Minnesota secured a 2-1 victory behind the strong goaltending of Niklas Backstrom and a game-winning goal that bounced off of Antti Miettinen’s shoulder at 3:36 of overtime.
As a result, a Ducks team that outshot Minnesota 16-2 in the third period secured only one point. Minnesota coach Todd Richards said that his team didn’t play well in the final period of regulation.
“We’re staying in games, but we can’t be too fooled by ourselves either,” Richards said. “We’re finding ways to win, you’ve got to give the guys credit for that. But we have to be better. We have to be more consistent in our play.”
That poor third period, however, was erased with one strong rush up the ice.
Rookie defenceman Marco Scandella and Miettinen made insured that the Wild won for the fifth time in their past seven games. Scandella carried the puck up the right side of the ice and shot the puck on Anaheim’s Curtis McElhinney, who made an initial save.
The rebound bounced to Miettinen, who had his first shot knocked away by McElhinney’s blocker. The puck then bounced off of Miettinen’s shoulder and into the back of the net. The play was reviewed, but Miettinen’s first career overtime goal stood because it was ruled that he didn’t attempt to knock the puck in the net with his body.
“I was pretty sure they were going to allow it right away because I was just skating pretty fast that way,” said Miettinen, who recently missed five games with a concussion. “So that was the motion that put the puck in, not anything else.”
McElhinney, playing for only the second time in Anaheim’s past nine games, gave credit to Miettinen for charging hard at the net.
“It was a tough (initial) rebound to steer away and come up with the second save,” he said. “But the guy who got it did a good job driving to the net. It was a nice play on their part.”
The loss continued a streak of close losses on this road trip for the Ducks. On Sunday, Anaheim lost in overtime at Chicago before giving up a third-period goal in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss at Dallas.
“We were a little frustrated that we didn’t get the extra point from the standpoint we were pretty good in the third period,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said.
But so was Backstrom, who stopped 27 Anaheim shots.
“We relied a lot on Nik, he made some great saves,” Richards said. “You’ve got to give Anaheim some credit. They were pushing hard in the third period.”
Along with recording his first NHL point on the game-winner, Scandella is making it difficult for the Wild to send him back to the minors. When Brent Burns returns from his two-game suspension on Friday, the Wild will have eight defencemen on the roster—one more than they would typically carry.
“He’s going to be a really good defenceman in this league,” Backstrom said of Scandella. “It’s fun to see guys come in here when they get a chance and then play well and help us. He’s doing the simple things out there. He’s not trying to do too much and he’s strong with the puck. His game is very solid.”
On the rush up the ice that won the game, Scandella was simply happy to be on the ice in that situation.
“I was in the moment,” said Scandella, who played more than 21 minutes against the Ducks. “I just try to keep it simple and get it to the forwards to do what they do best. You never know what happens, you just try to get it to the net.”
After a scoreless first period, Selenne’s power-play goal at 4:56 of the second gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead. Corey Perry made a quick pass across the slot that Selenne was able to knock in before Backstrom could slide to the other side of the net.
Havlat tied the game at 1 less than two minutes later. While below the goal line, Havlat backhanded the puck at the net. The puck sneaked between the post and McElhinney’s skate for Havlat’s second goal of the season and his eighth point in the past seven games.
NOTES: Cal Clutterbuck, Minnesota’s leading scorer, returned to action after leaving Sunday’s victory at TampaBay early with an upper body injury. … Brothers Sako and Mikko Koivu played against each other for the eighth time in their careers. … In his past five home games, Backstrom is 4-1-0 with a 0.99 goals against average.