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Selanne, Palmieri lead Ducks past Wild, 3-1

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- If Kyle Palmieri indulges in some birthday cake, he might want to save an extra plate for Teemu Selanne.

Palmieri was bumped up to the second line on his 22nd birthday Friday night and the presents were neatly wrapped by the 42-year-old Selanne, who helped set up both of Palmieri's goals as the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Minnesota Wild, 3-1.

The game-winner came at 4:21 of the second after Anaheim kept the puck in Minnesota's end. Selanne got it behind the goal line and fed a beautiful pass to a streaking Palmieri, who banged it into the open net for his second career two-goal game.

"It's amazing," said Palmieri of his two-decades-elder linemate. "He's got that vision that everyone's seen for the last 20-21 years. It's incredible playing with him and especially Bobby [Ryan] – they're both tremendous playmakers. Teemu's been known for his scoring but at the same time, he's got that vision and that knack for finding the open guy…. I think our entire line tonight –we clicked and we found each other in the open zone."

Selanne assisted on all three goals and moved into a tie with Doug Gilmour for 17th on the all-time points list with 1,414. Ryan added a late power-play goal and had two assists while centering Palmieri and Selanne.

It was the latest wrinkle by Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, who has played Palmieri on every line but the third in seven games. Moving Ryan to center on that line was in part to get him going.

"Maybe [he had] the thought of, ‘I better play good tonight because it's the first time,'" Boudreau said. "Tomorrow [against Los Angeles] we'll be to read it better if he doesn't get complacent, if he can come out and do the same thing."

In its previous two games, Minnesota received much-needed production from its second and third lines -- but against Anaheim it got almost nothing from the top line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley, which put no shots on goal through 55 minutes.

Matt Cullen played four shifts in the third period but Wild coach Mike Yeo did not have an update on his status.

The Wild got five shots on a late power play, but rookie goalie Viktor Fasth backstopped a blue-collar penalty kill by the Ducks. Fasth shook off a shaky beginning in his second NHL start and improved to 2-0-0. He is the first goalie in Anaheim history to win his first two NHL starts.

Niklas Backstrom did his part with 28 saves, but the Wild, which dealt Chicago its first loss in seven games Wednesday, couldn't get its first road win of the season (0-2-1).

"I don't care who we are playing against, we have to execute," Yeo said. "We had one guy doing it and the next guy was not. It's not going to work. We didn't have everybody."

Boudreau made a key tactical move by putting Francois Beauchemin and Sheldon Souray out frequently against the top line. The two worked well against San Jose on Tuesday, and it might the closest thing Anaheim has to a shutdown pairing.

"We're going to play teams like that," Heatley said. "The lines we played against just got rid of the puck and … got it to their end. We have to do a better job of holding on to it down low and creating stuff down there.

"We're a team that grinds teams down, and they did that to us."

The Ducks tied it 1-1 at 6:49 of the second on a rush started by Selanne's breakup of a pass to Parise at center ice. Selanne got it to Ryan, who drew a defender to him and dished to an open Palmieri for a one-timer into a wide-open net.

Anaheim had Minnesota on its heels for most of the first period, but the Wild came out with a 1-0 lead on a soft goal allowed by Fasth. Marco Scandella wristed a shot from the left circle that squeezed through five-hole on the unscreened Fasth. It was Scandella's fourth career goal.

Anaheim's Corey Perry briefly left the game midway through the second after he was felled by Clayton Stoner's shoulder. Linemate Ryan Getzlaf later crunched Stoner against the half-wall.

Sami Vatanen became the fourth player to make his NHL debut this season for the Ducks. The defenseman, 21, was paired with Luca Sbisa and played on the first power-play unit. Toni Lydman was scratched because of "wear and tear" and the back-to-back situation, according to a team spokesman. He is expected to return Saturday.

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