ANAHEIM, Calif. - Sandis Ozolinsh broke a 2-2 tie at 12:49 of the third period with his second goal of the season to lead the Ducks over the Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Friday night at the Arrowhead Pond.
The game-winning goal for Ozolinsh was a major highlight for the defenseman who was playing in just his second game since Nov. 27 after returning from the NHL's substance abuse program.
“For a player to go through the situation he went through and to be able to come back into our lineup, it’s a big relief for him and I think he should be credited," said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. "He’s done nothing but strictly focus on trying to help our hockey club.”
After a scoreless first period, Samuel Pahlsson (4, Unassisted) started the scoring for Anaheim with his second shorthanded marker of the season at 6:16 of the second period. Pahlsson beat goaltender Dwayne Roloson to a loose puck at the side of the Minnesota net and fired the puck off the retreating netminder and into the net for his fifth career shorthanded goal.
"We knew we wouldn’t be as ineffective as we were the other night," said Carlyle. "I didn’t think we were very effective early, but we found a way to get our game going. That’s the most important thing for our group.
The Anaheim lead was short-lived as Minnesota's Todd White (19, Zyuzin, Rolston) scored his 19th of the season at 8:07 of the second to tie the contest, 1-1.
In the waning seconds of the second period, with the Ducks on the power play, Corey Perry (6, S. Niedermayer, Getzlaf) tallied to give Anaheim a 2-1 lead. Perry rifled a slap shot from the right face off circle with 12 seconds remaining in the period.
Marian Gaborik (28, Foster, Koivu) scored his 28th goal of the season at 4:37 of the third period to tie the game 2-2.
Ozolinsh (2, Getzlaf) gave the Ducks the lead for good at 12:49 of the third period with a shot from the point, through traffic for his second on the season.
“I was just trying to get it past their first forward and I think it hit someone’s stick and I think it fooled the goalie a little," said Ozolinsh. "It’s nice to score a goal like that, but the most important thing is we won the hockey game against a tough opponent.”
Teemu Selanne (27, Marchant) added an empty net goal for his team-leading 27th of the season to seal the victory at 19:34 of the third period for the Ducks.
The Ducks next face Sergei Fedorov and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim at 1 PM.