ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Anaheim Ducks got their sputtering power play going.
Familiarity and continuity make that a lot easier to do, and the Minnesota Wild are still searching for theirs.
Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf each had a power-play goal and an assist, and Teemu Selanne totalled three assists to help the Ducks beat the Wild 3-2 on Thursday and snap a three-game winless streak.
“We scored. That’s improving,” Perry said.
Bobby Ryan scored, too, and Jonas Hiller made 23 saves, giving the Ducks a sparkling night of production from their stars on the second stop on their seven-game road tour.
“We’ve started every season the last couple pretty slow. Come February or March where you’re battling for the playoffs, when you get these points this early it’s not such a battle,” Getzlaf said.
The Wild are nine games into coach Mike Yeo’s regime. New systems rarely come quickly, but they’re playing a little too passively for his liking. Yeo said he believes the Wild deserved to win this game, but he’s seeking that “belief” on the bench they’re going to get those two points.
“We get in prime scoring areas and we wait and wait and wait and think there are better opportunities,” Yeo said. “So even if you do shoot the puck now it’s potentially getting blocked. Even if you get it on net the goalie’s in perfect position. A quick shot is always your best.”
Jared Spurgeon and Matt Cullen scored to give the Wild’s sagging power play a lift, but Cullen’s goal on a deflection of Mikko Koivu’s shot came with 6:06 remaining in the game with the Wild trailing by two—too little too late.
Yeo mixed up the lines again, trying to generate more of an attack, with the rugged Cal Clutterbuck moving up to skate with struggling stars Koivu and Dany Heatley. Devin Setoguchi was down on the second line again.
Koivu hasn’t scored yet. His last goal was March 11, an 18-game span. But Yeo refused to criticize his captain’s performance, calling this his best all-around game this season.
“You have to create the chances. You can’t be satisfied that you’re getting chances, either. Obviously goals are the things that matter,” Koivu said.
The Wild went 2 for 5 on the power play. Spurgeon’s goal ended an 0-for-20 dry spell for a team that entered the game with the fourth-worst conversion rate in the league. They’re 5 for 36 this season, and the dissatisfied customers booed a few times.
“We’ve been in every game. It’s coming. We knew that with new systems, new everything, it would take awhile. I think we’re right there,” said defenceman Nick Schultz.
Getzlaf snagged a bouncing puck on a power play and sneaked a pass to Perry across the slot in the first period, and Perry stopped the puck with his left skate. He tapped it into the open net as he lost his balance and tipped over.
Selanne did the dirty work in the second frame by prying the puck away from Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom’s glove, and Ryan swooped in to slam in the rebound to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead.
Early in the third period, Getzlaf had a wide-open net after Selanne’s power-play pass skipped over defenceman Justin Falk, who went to his knees without success to try to stop the puck in the crease, allowing the Ducks to take a 3-1 lead.
“They have incredible players, and they hurt us tonight,” said Falk, who blamed himself for not preventing the back-door pass. “We didn’t give them much, but when they have their chances, players like that will finish it off.”
The Ducks entered the game 25th in the league on the power play.
“Lucky enough, we’ve been together so long we kind of have that awareness of where they’re going to be,” Getzlaf said. “Those things help a lot during the power play.”
Coach Randy Carlyle has had the Ducks practise their power play “every chance we possibly can” whether against defenders or not. The early goal was what got them going in this one.
“It breeds confidence in the players because they feel good about themselves. They’re not frustrated by the penalty killing or frustrated from a bad pass. All that goes away when you score,” Carlyle said.
NOTES:The Wild have given up 10 goals to Perry and Ryan over the past four seasons, the second-most by any opposing player. Ryan Kesler of the Canucks has 15 in that span. Perry and Getzlaf each have 25 points in 23 career games against Minnesota. … Wild D Greg Zanon was scratched with a groin injury for the second straight game. LW Guillaume Latendresse, who missed the last game at Vancouver on Saturday because of a groin injury, was back in and skating on the fourth line, his usual place taken by Setoguchi. … Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback Christian Ponder was at the game. He received a loud cheer from the crowd when he was showed on the scoreboard. … The 41-year-old Selanne doubled his assist total for the season. His last three-assist game came last Feb. 11 at Calgary, but only five of his 28 career three-assist games have come in the last 10 years.