Johnson lift Wild past Ducks, 5-3
ANAHEIM, Calif.—Nick Johnson scored the go-ahead goal with 5:31 left in the third period, and Casey Wellman and Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored 32 seconds apart in the second period, leading the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks 5-3 on Sunday night.
Matt Cullen had three assists for Minnesota against his former club.
Josh Harding, who took over in net for an injured Niklas Backstrom after the first period of Minnesota's 4-2 win over New Jersey on Friday night and stopped all 22 shots he faced, made 24 saves against the Ducks in his first start since Nov. 25 while rookie Matt Hackett served as his backup.
Dany Heatley scored a power-play goal and Kyle Clutterbuck added a short-handed empty-netter with 10.2 seconds left for Minnesota in the opener of a five-game trip.
The victory put the Wild atop the overall NHL standings with 37 points under rookie coach Mike Yeo. They are off to their best start in the franchise's 11-year history at 17-7-3, and have won four straight and nine of 11 -- a stretch that began with a 3-2 win over the Ducks on Nov. 13 at Anaheim.
Anaheim is 0-2 since recently deposed Washington coach Bruce Boudreau replaced Randy Carlyle behind the bench. The Ducks, who have won just three of their last 21 games, squandered a 2-0 lead just two nights after blowing a 3-0 advantage in Boudreau's debut -- a 4-3 overtime loss to Philadelphia.
Ryan Getzlaf, Saku Koivu and Cam Fowler scored for Anaheim and Jonas Hiller made 31 saves in his 200th regular-season game. Teemu Selanne, the Ducks' career leader in goals, assists, points, power-play goals, game-winners and games played, appeared in his 800th regular-season game with the club.
Johnson got his fourth goal of the season when he converted a centering pass from Clutterbuck as Johnson and defenseman Luca Sbisa both crashed into Hiller. The puck at first appeared to go off Johnson's skate, but a brief video review allowed the goal to stand up.
This was the third straight road game for Minnesota in which it overcame a two-goal deficit to win. Wellman, playing in his third game of the season following his recall from Houston of the AHL last Monday, tied it 2 at 15:18 of the second when he converted Cullen's centering pass. The Wild took the lead moments later when Bouchard beat Hiller high to the glove side with a 17-foot backhander.
Getzlaf had the potential tying goal on his stick and a wide-open net staring him in the face when he tried to convert a rebound and hit the right post from a few feet away with 16:52 left in the third period. But Beleskey got the equalizer when his snap shot from the left circle caromed off defenaseman Marco Scandella's stake and past Harding's stick with 9:15 to play.
This was the 11th time this season that Minnesota has won when its opponent scored first, the most in the league. The victory ended a streak of 14 straight meetings between the clubs at
After splitting a pair of 3-2 decisions with Minnesota, the Ducks opened the scoring at 5:57 of the first period with Getzlaf's sixth goal while Nick Schultz was off for high-sticking Devante Smith-Pelly. Selanne got the puck from Fowler in the right circle and sent it down low to Corey Perry, who found a wide-open Getzlaf at the left of the crease with a brilliant touch-pass between his legs.
Koivu made it 2-0 at 9:25 of the period after Selanne set him up at the right of the net with a thread-the-needle pass that got through Minnesota center Kyle Brodziak and defensemen Clayton Stoner and Greg Zanon.
Minnesota's Brad Staubitz tried to light a fire under his team by engaging Jean-Francois Jacques in a fight about a minute after Koivu's goal, but it was a 5-on-3 power play late in the first that enabled Minnesota to get back in the game.
Bobby Ryan was sent off for interference, and Toni Lydman joined him in the penalty box 33 seconds later after high-sticking Devin Setoguchi. Heatley used Setoguchi and Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin as a screen, beating Hiller to the stick side on a 35-foot slapshot between the circles with just 3.2 seconds left in the period and the Wild still on a two-man advantage.
Notes: Of the eight head coaches in Ducks history, Boudreau is the third to lose his first two games. Ron Wilson won on his third try, and Craig Hartsburg on his fourth attempt. ... This was the first time in their 17 wins this season that the Wild allowed more than two goals. ... Minnesota C Colton Gillies was a healthy scratch for the second time this season. He is one of five forwards currently on an NHL roster who has played at least 25 games this season without scoring a goal. The others are Calgary RW Tim Jackman, Edmonton C Eric Belanger, Washington C Matt Hendricks and Winnipeg RW Chris Thorburn. ... The Koivu brothers have played against each other 12 times in the NHL, and they have each been on the winning six times. Saku has two goals and four assists and his younger sibbling has four goals and five assists -- one of them on Heatley's goal. ... Minnesota has won four straight on the road for the first time since a five-game stretch in March 2007. ... Ducks LW Jason Blake and D Matt Smaby, both of whom were born in Minnesota, have missed all three meetings with the Wild because of injuries. Smaby (Minneapolis) is recovering from surgery on his right thumb and Blake (Moorhead) has a lacerated left wrist.