When the Ducks were tasked with killing off a 4-on-3 just 27 seconds into overtime, the odds were certainly against them. But leave it to 26-year-old John Gibson to keep them alive when the game reached the point of no second chances.
Anaheim's best penalty killer was certainly that (and more), keeping the Wild off the board in sudden death, even when Jakob Silfverberg was forced to defend without a stick. The game eventually went to a shootout, where the Ducks made good on the only two chances they'd need.
After Gibson denied Zach Parise to open the shootout, Rickard Rakell and Max Comtois buried their chances to lift the Ducks to a much-needed 3-2 shootout victory over the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday night.
"It's a huge character win," said Comtois, who finished with two shots and one hit in 12:32 TOI. "Being up 2-0, they came back, but we fought through. We found a way to win. That's the mentality of the group."
The win snapped a two-game losing streak, but also featured some resiliency from a Ducks team that had let leads slip away in recent weeks. It gave the Ducks five straight wins at Xcel Energy Center and boosted their record in Saint Paul to 11-2-0 since Oct. 27, 2011
Tonight was much of the same, with the Ducks coming out strong and jumping out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Rakell and Cam Fowler in the first period. At one point, the Ducks out-shot the Wild 19-1. The game was in their hands. Then, the tides changed. Ryan Hartman got the Wild on the board at the 7:59 mark of the second period on a shot Gibson would want to have back. Then, just two minutes into the third, Ryan Donato scored on a shot that snuck between the nearside post and Gibson's arm.
Much of the third period was played in Anaheim's end, but the Ducks were able to fend off a hot Wild team that entered the game with a 10-3-4 record in its last 17. With the win, the Ducks improved to 13-14-4 (30 points), while the Wild fell to 14-13-4 (32 points).
The Ducks received a huge boost on the blueline with the return of Josh Manson. The rugged blueliner missed 19 consecutive games with an MCL sprain, but anchored the right side tonight alongside familiar partner Hampus Lindholm. Manson finished the game with two shots in 21:08 TOI.
Anaheim opened the scoring just 3:04 into the game when Rakell scored his ninth goal of the season off a nice feed from Silfverberg. Sam Carrick, making his season debut, earned the secondary helper on the goal with an initial shot that Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen coughed up.
Video: ANA@MIN: Rakell puts home Silfverberg feed
The Ducks doubled the lead midway through the first when Fowler's shot from the point on the power play sailed through a screen in front for his sixth goal of the season. The goal placed Fowler in a tie with Rakell (25) and Marty McInnis (25) for ninth on the franchise's all-time PPG list.
Video: ANA@MIN: Fowler nets power-play goal
In the shootout, Rakell opted for a move he's quite familiar with. "I was trying to slow it down a little bit to see what he was going to give me," Rakell said. "I've been working on the shootout moves before every game on Millsy [Ryan Miller]. I was confident going into the shootout."
Video: ANA@MIN: Rakell shows off patience on SO goal
Comtois took note of Rakell's goal, and followed it up with an impressive forehand-to-backhand deke that had Kahkonen in a belly flop. "I was watching Ricky before me, and I knew he'd bite on the first move," Comtois said. "I tried to pull off the best [move] I could do. I got it in the net. It was a huge two points."
Video: ANA@MIN: Comtois wins shootout for Ducks
After splitting their two-game road trip, the Ducks will return to Orange County to open a two-game homestand beginning this Thursday against the LA Kings.