Get ready or get blown out.
That lesson was learned Wednesday night by the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Both were ill-prepared and lethargic in road games. Both were shut out, the Ducks losing 3-0 at Minnesota, and the Leafs falling 5-0 at Buffalo.
Andrew Brunette and Mikko Koivu scored goals, and All-Star Niklas Backstrom made them stand with his sixth shutout of the season for the Wild. Backstrom made 34 saves, several requiring quick reactions from close in, and the Ducks went 0-for-5 on the power play.
"Our execution was really, I would say, off," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "We just couldn't seem to do anything with the puck, and we got frustrated. I didn't think we really got involved in the game until the third period. ... We can't afford a performance like we had tonight, in this situation."
Toronto has had plenty of those performances this season; the Leafs are 11th in the Eastern Conference. They won't even stay that high if they continue to falter the way they did in Buffalo, which got a hat trick from Thomas Vanek. Ryan Miller was barely tested in stopping 16 shots for his second consecutive shutout.
"This wasn't one of our better efforts to say the least," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "We weren't ready tonight."
In other NHL games Wednesday, it was: Pittsburgh 4, Toronto 3 in overtime; Detroit 5, Phoenix 4; and Boston 3, Philadelphia 1.
In Minneapolis, the Wild have been uncharacteristically inconsistent with a 15-9-3 home record. The victory started a stretch where seven out of eight games are at Xcel Energy Center, and all but one of those are against teams from the West.
The Wild are 20-6 this season when they score first. Brunette took the puck out of the corner on a first-period power play and kept trying to jam it past Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller, who eventually let it past him.
Koivu's second-period goal, fed by a behind-the-net pass from fellow Finn Antti Miettinen, gave Minnesota a comfortable lead. Koivu also assisted on Brunette's goal, giving him a career-high 35 this season. Pierre-Marc Bouchard had an assist and an empty-net goal in the final minute.
"I think we're getting better every night, and that's the way it should be," Backstrom said.
In Buffalo, N.Y., Tim Connolly and Drew Stafford had a goal and assist each for the Sabreso, playing their first home game in nearly three weeks after going 3-3 during a six-game road trip which spanned the NHL All-Star break. Vanek, who now has 32 goals, added an assist during his fifth career three-goal game and first this year.
Miller, who stopped 28 shots in a 2-0 win at Phoenix on Saturday, registered his fifth shutout of the season and hasn't allowed a goal in a span of 126:52, dating to a 5-2 loss at Calgary on Jan. 28.
"We had good energy tonight, a lot of guys are happy to be home," said Miller, who was relatively untested in registering his second straight shutout. "The boys looked really sharp. They should be proud of managing the game for 60 minutes."
At Pittsburgh, Evgeni Malkin finished a frantic rally with 15.5 seconds left in overtime for his second goal. Malkin began the comeback with a goal and later set up Petr Sykora's tying goal with 3:29 remaining in regulation after Sykora assisted on Mark Eaton's goal.
The Penguins, three points below the Eastern Conference's playoff cutoff coming in, were in danger of losing their fourth in a row until NHL points leader Malkin scored his 23rd and 24th goals. Tampa Bay led 3-0 in rookie goalie Mike McKenna's first career start before dropping its fourth in a row.
Pittsburgh, 5-11-1 in its previous 17 games, did nothing against McKenna in the first two periods as Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier each had a goal and an assist. Former Pittsburgh forward Ryan Malone also scored.
At Detroit, Niklas Lidstrom's power-play goal with 39 seconds left won it. Lidstrom's shot from the point went in off Coyotes defenseman Ken Klee's stick.
Marian Hossa scored two goals for the second consecutive game and Henrik Zetterberg and Mikael Samuelsson also scored for Detroit. Chris Osgood made 22 saves.
Ed Jovanovski and Joakim Lindstrom each had a goal and an assist and Todd Fedoruk and Joel Perrault also scored for Phoenix, which lost its fifth straight. Ilya Bryzgalov made 28 saves.
At Philadelphia, David Krejci and Dennis Wideman scored 25 seconds apart in the third period. Michael Ryder also scored for the Bruins, who improved to 38-8-6.
Scott Hartnell had the lone goal for the flu-ridden Flyers. Philadelphia captain Mike Richards, defenseman Braydon Coburn and forward Scottie Upshall each sat out due to the virus.
The Flyers have lost five of eight games to drop to sixth in the Eastern Conference after a brief stay atop the Atlantic Division.
Boston's Tim Thomas made 25 saves, including several tough ones. Thomas leads the league in save percentage.