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Ducks rally to top stingy Wild in home opener

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- Andrew Cogliano knew the competition would become more difficult when the Anaheim Ducks began facing Western Conference teams. Their game Friday against the Minnesota Wild was Exhibit A.

Cogliano snapped the Wild's eight-period-plus shutout streak to start the season, and Corey Perry scored 7:33 later to lift the Ducks to a 2-1 win in their home opener.

Anaheim finished its season-opening four-game road trip against Eastern Conference teams 3-1-0, including a 5-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday and a 4-3 shootout victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday to end the trip.

The goals didn't come quite as easily in Anaheim's first game against a West opponent. The Ducks did not beat Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper until more than 44 minutes had elapsed.

"As things get down to it and you start getting near the end of the season, you're going to start playing against teams like this, and they're just not going to give you much," Cogliano said. "It's whoever is going to make more mistakes is going to lose the game."

Minnesota made that crucial mistake late. Perry tapped in the game-winner, his fifth goal, with 8:25 left in the third after Jason Zucker's pass bounced off Matt Dumba's skate as the Wild attempted to break out of their zone. Kuemper stopped Perry's initial shot, but Nate Thompson nudged the puck to the left side for Perry, who extended his season-opening point streak to five games.

Anaheim goalie Frederik Andersen made 27 saves to win his fourth straight start (4-0-0).

Minnesota was the fifth team since 1943-44 to begin the season with two shutouts and was more than halfway to the 1930-31 Toronto Maple Leafs' record of five straight season-opening shutouts when Cogliano got the sellout crowd of 17,306 on its feet with his ninth career shorthanded goal.

Defenseman Cam Fowler pushed the puck up the boards, and Cogliano, who grabbed it near the Minnesota bench, broke in on Kuemper and slipped a backhand past him at 4:02 of the third.

Kuemper, who broke Niklas Backstrom's franchise-record shutout streak of 157:44 in the second period, had his streak end at 163:46.

Kuemper and the Wild will have to take solace in limiting the NHL's highest-scoring team last season for much of the night.

"I definitely would have felt better after a win," Kuemper said of breaking Backstrom's record. "We know what we can do defensively. We're a defensive-minded team and we play solid structurally in our own end and make it tough on teams like this to get some, and I thought we did a good job of that tonight but made a few mistakes and got a few bad bounces and couldn't seal the deal."

Before Anaheim's third-period flurry, each team had prime chances in the second. Wild forward Thomas Vanek had the puck on his stick in the slot but was stopped by Andersen. On the ensuing trip down the ice, a rebound hopped over Cogliano's stick. Wild forward Jason Pominville then fanned on an open net from the right side.

It was that kind of period for Anaheim, which did not have a shot on two second-period power plays and looked disjointed at times.

"Before [Cogliano's goal], we weren't very good and were being dominated," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We're looking at what really good teams are capable of doing, and we have to get better if we want to stay up at that level. That was the lesson we learned, and that's why it was a big game. But they were a very good team. They controlled the puck all night long. We're grateful for the win, but we know we have to be much better."

Andersen anchored Anaheim early, but he was beaten by Zucker's wrist shot at 2:08 of the second period. Zucker, who was born in nearby Newport Beach, streaked down the left side to put defenseman Clayton Stoner on his heels and zipped the puck glove side on Andersen for his first career goal against the Ducks.

Minnesota coach Mike Yeo liked much of what he saw after the Wild came off a five-day break. The Wild forced 10 giveaways in the first two periods and won 36 of 64 faceoffs.

"It's too hard to be upset right now," Yeo said. "You want to win the game. Our guys put a lot into that game. For the most part we were playing a great game. There were empty nets and opportunities that were bouncing off our sticks. We weren't quite sharp in the [house] situations, and that's when you need to make a play."

Anaheim has won seven of eight games against Minnesota, and the past 12 between the teams have been decided by one or two goals.

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