ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A late goal by Luca Sbisa, coupled with a critical five-minute penalty kill, were enough to muscle the Anaheim Ducks past the Minnesota Wild 2-1 Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center.
It was a game, admittedly, the Ducks probably didn't deserve to win.
"You gotta be honest with yourself," Sbisa said. "I don't think we played to the standard you need to play on a nightly basis. But it shows the character of this team to battle through it."
Anaheim was badly outshot through 40 minutes, putting just three shots on Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom through one period and just four more in the second.
Down 1-0 early in the second, things got worse for the Ducks as they lost winger Corey Perry for the remainder of the game after an elbow connected with Wild left wing Jason Zucker's head. Perry was assessed a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct, giving the Wild an opportunity to build on its lead in a game it had dominated to that point.
But the Ducks had the better of the chances for the first two minutes of the Wild power play -- ringing the post once -- and then continued to kill the remainder of the chance, slowing the Wild momentum heading into the third period -- a frame the Ducks controlled throughout.
"After that point, I think it's fair to say we were a different team," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We kind of looked like a team that went from 'going for the throat' to all of the sudden being maybe being weary of what we were losing."
"We had five minutes there where we couldn't even get it out of our end," said Wild forward Devin Setoguchi.
The Ducks also killed an extended 5-on-3 chance midway through the first period, which kept the game scoreless at the time.
"In any game, if you kill a 5-on-3 or kill a five-minute penalty, the team that does the killing usually is energized, the other team is usually demoralized," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "For the most part, [the attacking team uses its] power play guys a lot and they get a little fatigued.
"I thought it was a part of the game that we said, 'Hey listen, we've got a chance here no matter how bad we're being outplayed at this stage.'"
Anaheim knotted the score just 3:06 into the third as Patrick Maroon gathered in a rebound off the end boards and jammed home his second of the season. Toni Lydman was awarded the first assist after his shot from the point sailed wide of the net. The deflection came right back towards the left post, where Maroon was waiting to put it home into an open net.
Sbisa scored the game-winner with just 3:04 remaining, snapping a shot from the high slot through traffic and past Backstrom for his first tally of the season.
"It took me awhile. Hopefully they will come at a quicker pace now," Sbisa said. "It definitely felt good to get that first one out of the way."
A late slashing penalty by Wild defenseman Ryan Suter ended any realistic chance of Minnesota finding the equalizer.
Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller stopped 30 shots, including 14 in the second period, to improve to 9-2-2 on the year. It was Hiller's second victory against the Wild, and improved Anaheim's record to 10-2-1 this season when allowing an opponent to score first.
"Sometimes it happens like that, if you can keep a game tight until the last period, suddenly things go your way," Hiller said. "I thought we played really well in the third, found a way to score. That's what makes this team strong; we believe we can win even though we don't play well."
The Wild got on the board late in the first period when Setoguchi's snap shot from the left dot snuck through Jonas Hiller's five-hole for his sixth goal of the season. The power-play goal marked the fifth straight game Minnesota scored with the man advantage.
Minnesota appeared to take a 1-0 lead even earlier, when at 2:27, Torrey Mitchell gained control of the puck and flipped a backhand shot over Hiller's shoulder and off the crossbar. The horn sounded, the music started and the crowd cheered, but after a review in Toronto, the puck was ruled to have not crossed all the way over the goal line.
"I'm disappointed not to get that win," Yeo said. "Certainly it was there for us, we did a lot of really good things through two periods and weren't able to put a stranglehold on that game."
Backstrom wasn't tested much until the third period, stopping 19 shots in dropping to 11-7-2. The loss snapped the Wild's two-game winning streak. Coupled with the Vancouver Canucks win in Columbus, the Wild are now two points back in the Northwest Division, headed into consecutive games with the Colorado Avalanche Thursday and Saturday.
The Ducks, who have won four straight contests and collected points in each of their last eight games, continue on the second leg of their three-game road trip Thursday at Dallas.