Mighty Ducks-Wild Preview
GAME: Anaheim Mighty Ducks (2-1-1) at Minnesota Wild (2-2-1).
TIME: Sunday, 6:00 p.m. EDT.
If not for Joffrey Lupul's performance on Friday night, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks likely would be headed on their road trip on a sour note.
Lupul and the Mighty Ducks look for another victory when they open a three-game trek with a matchup against the Minnesota Wild.
On Friday, Anaheim scored its first home victory of the season in a 4-3 win over Columbus. Without the services of center Sergei Fedorov (groin injury) and defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh (flu), Lupul scored two goals and assisted on Keith Carney's game-winner with 2:36 to play.
"It's pretty rewarding when we are missing two guys and step up and get a goal," Lupul said. "Those guys are two key components of our power play so we just tried to simplify it tonight, get pucks to the point and crash the net."
Lupul, a second-year player who leads the team with four goals and five points, hopes the Mighty Ducks can turn in similar performances for the entire season.
"We want to be a team that is tough to play night in and night out," Lupul said. "We did them some favors tonight, but for the first time all season we really came back and battled over 60 minutes."
Following this contest, Anaheim visits St. Louis on Wednesday before closing the road trip Friday in Detroit.
First, the Ducks hope to contain a Minnesota offense off to a strong start.
The Wild entered the weekend sixth in the Western Conference with 3.47 goals per game. They were tied for third-worst in the West during the 2003-04 season with 2.29 per contest.
Good special-teams play is a key reason for Minnesota's solid start. Following Friday's action, the Wild boasted the league's best power-play unit (8-for-22) and were tied for second in penalty killing (31-for-33).
Minnesota went 6-for-8 with the man advantage in the first two games of its four-game homestand, both against the Vancouver Canucks. The Wild routed the Canucks 6-0 on Wednesday, but Vancouver won 5-3 in Friday's rematch.
After making 33 saves in Wednesday's shutout, Dwayne Roloson made 36 more on Friday, but gave up the go-ahead goal to ex-teammate Robert Park early in the third period.
"He schooled me on it," Roloson said. "All those years of practice and he got me."
Despite losing the game by two goals, the Wild took some solace knowing they held the lead once, forced a tie twice and were essentially playing one goal away for most of the game. Both Minnesota's other two losses have both been decided by one goal.
"It's promising that the games we haven't played well in we're one goal away from, but if we want to win hockey games we've got to take it to the other team," Minnesota right winger Brian Rolston said.
STANDINGS (through Oct. 14): Mighty Ducks - 5 points, 3rd place, 3 PB, Pacific Division. Wild - 5 points, 3rd place (tied), 2 PB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Mighty Ducks - Lupul, 4 goals and 5 points; Andy McDonald, Corey Perry and Rob Niedermayer, 3 assists; Vitaly Vishnevski, 10 PIM. Wild - Marc Chouinard, 4 goals; Pierre Marc-Bouchard, 4 assists and 6 points; Alex Henry and Wes Walz, 11 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 14): Mighty Ducks - Power play: 11.1 percent (3 for 27), 25th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 76.7 percent (23 for 30), 24th. Wild - Power play: 36.4 percent (8 for 22), 2nd. Penalty killing: 93.9 percent (31 for 33), 2nd (tied).
GOALTENDERS: Mighty Ducks - Jean-Sebastien Giguere (2-1-0, 0 SO, 2.72 GAA); Ilya Bryzgalov (no appearances). Wild - Roloson (2-2-0, 1, 2.27); Manny Fernandez (0-0-0, 0, 1.90).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Mighty Ducks, 2-1-1.
LAST MEETING: March 28, 2004; Wild, 2-1. At Minneapolis, Roloson notched 18 saves to lead the Wild to the home victory.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mighty Ducks - 1-0-1 on the road; Wild - 2-1-0 at home.