ST. PAUL, Minn. – With his goalie keeping it close and his teammates narrowly missing some prime opportunities, Corey Perry knew there was no reason to start taking uncharacteristic risks.
Perry scored the winning goal at 12:21 of the third period, Jonas Hiller stopped 17 shots, and the Anaheim Ducks beat Minnesota 2-1 on Tuesday night, handing the Wild their fifth straight loss.
Minnesota led 1-0 after two periods, but Niklas Hagman tied it at 8:17 of the third and Perry swooped in to beat Josh Harding and give Anaheim the lead for good.
“We’re just playing the same way the whole game and not trying to do different things or be too cute when we get down,” Perry said. “That’s what we’ve been doing since we’ve been on this roll and we have to keep doing it.”
Dany Heatley scored his team-leading 19th goal, but the Wild failed to generate much offence the rest of the game.
Minnesota has scored just seven goals in its last six games and is 5-16-5 since Dec. 13. The Wild have lost four straight at home for the first time in team history.
Even if the Wild were scoring more, it might not have mattered against Hiller. The red-hot goalie recovered nicely after allowing Heatley’s early goal and is 11-2-3 in his last 16 games.
“Jonas made so many big saves to keep it at 1-0,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “If they got that next one, I don’t think we would’ve gotten two by Harding.”
The surging Ducks are creeping up in the Western Conference standings. They won for the first time this season when trailing after two periods.
After starting the season 20-7-3, Minnesota has been slowed by injuries and offensive difficulties. The Ducks are now just three points behind the Wild for 12th in the West.
Minnesota has used an NHL-high 39 players this season, one away from the team record of 40 set last season.
“It can’t get any worse goal-scoring wise,” Heatley said. “We’ve just got to keep shooting and eventually they’ll go in.”
Hagman’s goal came after a rare Mikko Koivu turnover in the Wild’s zone and was a relief for the Ducks.
Matt Beleskey had an open net early in the second period, but his shot was blocked by Marco Scandella. Ryan Getzlaf hit the crossbar at the end of the second and the Ducks failed to score while on a four-minute power play.
“Both teams helped their goalies, maybe them a little more than we did,” Hagman said.
After Koivu’s turnover, Hagman threw the puck at the net and managed to get it over Harding’s glove and barely over the line.
“That’s what it takes,” he said. “We just had to try and throw it to the net.”
For the first time in a long time, the Wild had all the momentum heading into the third. They couldn’t capitalize, though, thanks in large part to Hiller.
Hiller denied Heatley and Koivu early in the third and withstood a flurry in front of the net as the final seconds ticked away late in the game.
“We’re a good enough team to close out a game when we’re up 1-0,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “We’re still a good enough team that we should be able to win that game. We’ve just got to keep fighting.”
Perry beat Harding with a slick shot over Harding’s right glove. He has 13 goals in 2012, second most in the NHL.
“We had a lot of chances to score in the first two periods,” Perry said. “It’s dump in, chase, cycle the puck and take the net. You look at the scoring chances we had tonight, we hit a few posts and had some scrambles in front. If you keep pushing forward, good things happen for you.”
After getting off to a miserable start, the Ducks have earned points in 16 of their last 18 games and nine of their last 10 road games.
“Maybe it all evens out in the end, I don’t know,” Boudreau said.
NOTES: The Ducks recalled G Jeff Deslauriers and sent G Iiro Tarkki to Syracuse of the AHL before the game. … Tuesday’s game was the 13th time brothers Mikko and Saku Koivu played against each other. … Only four players have played all 56 games for the Wild this season. … Wild wing Cal Clutterbuck missed the game with a lower-body injury. … Wild D Marek Zidlicky assisted on Heatley’s goal for his first power-play assist since Nov. 8.