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Wild beat Ducks for fourth straight road win

by Curtis Zupke /
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Minnesota Wild have gotten this road rallying thing down to a science, while the Anaheim Ducks have made blown leads their trademark.

Nick Johnson scored with 5:31 remaining to lift Minnesota to a 5-3 victory Sunday night at Honda Center as the Wild reclaimed the lead atop the NHL standings.

It was the third straight road game that Minnesota erased a 2-0 deficit and won. The Wild also spotted Edmonton and Columbus such leads on Nov. 15 and Nov. 30.

The sound of resiliency was heard in the form of a booming stereo in Minnesota's locker room. This is the farthest into a season the Wild have held the League's top spot.

"It's a question of sticking with it," Cal Clutterbuck said. "I think the amazing thing is when you can stick with it and things actually start to happen for you. That's kind of what encourages you and gives you the confidence to sit in those, 2-0, 2-1 games, and just be like, 'Let's keep with it. We'll get it.'

"I think a lot of times last year, we were sitting there and 40 minutes is counting down and we need a score that shift. It's just a question of sticking with it, applying pressure and getting pucks to the net."

Anaheim blew a two-goal lead for the third time in five games and for the second straight time under new coach Bruce Boudreau, who is finding out firsthand how the Ducks find ways to lose.

"We have to play 60 minutes," Boudreau said. "We played about 12 good minutes in the first period. We stopped playing."

The game-winner was exactly the type of fortunate bounce that goes to teams finding ways to win.

Johnson had Clutterbuck's centering pass hit his skate and into the net with Luca Sbisa draped on his back. Clutterbuck added an empty-net goal for a two-point game in his return from a thigh injury.

The last NHL team to rally from two or more down to win three straight road games was Buffalo in 2005-06. Minnesota had never won two straight road games when trailing by two or more until this season.

Minnesota also won four straight on the road for the first time since March of 2007.

"We stick to our game plan," Pierre-Marc Bouchard said. "It's been fun the way it's going."

While Minnesota stuck to its game plan, Anaheim strayed yet again despite a furious third period in which it outshot the Wild, 14-6.

Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, who is known to be candid in his assessments of his team, didn't hold back after another sloppy defensive game.

"I think that's where you can see why we're not winning," Hiller said. "Those guys always seem to get inside, to kind of walk through two guys and suddenly get a 2-on-1 out of nothing. Even though we have guys back, it seems like we're just too cute.

"It looks like we are there but not really there. Physically, there but probably mentally we are already in the other zone or still in the dressing room."

Minnesota started its comeback with a goal with 3.2 seconds to go in the opening period. Dany Heatley, manning the point during a two-man advantage, ripped a slap shot with Devin Setoguchi screening Hiller.

Heatley at the point was a new alignment by first-year coach Mike Yeo.

"I thought Seto was unreal in front of the net," Yeo said. "His screen was perfect."

The Wild scored twice on consecutive shots in a 32-second span in the second period to erase a 2-1 deficit. Casey Wellman finished a 2-on-1 with Matt Cullen at 15:18 after a long lead pass from Bouchard on a play that covered about 170 feet in four seconds. Bouchard lifted a backhand over Hiller's glove hand at 15:50 on a rather poor play by Hiller.

"Just a backhand shot," Bouchard said. "I don't know."

Boudreau called timeout after that.

"I said, 'Don't hang your head. You look like you're a beaten team,'" Boudreau said. "If you can't face a little adversity in hockey, then you're not going to get anywhere. Pull up your socks and get made rather than feel sorry for yourself."

Anaheim came alive in the third and finally tied it when Cam Fowler's shot deflected off Marco Scandella's skate and Matt Beleskey's stick at 10:45.

But it was a broken record for Anaheim, which has three wins in its past 21 games.

"It's tough when you're up 2-0 in games," Corey Perry said. "We have to be ready defensively. We got away from our game plan tonight. Once we do that, we're not the same team. We're turning the puck over, doing all those things. That's not the way we play."

Perry made a great pass to Ryan Getzlaf for Anaheim's first goal when he deftly turned his blade and redirected Teemu Selanne's pass to the other side of the ice for Getzlaf to easily score 15 seconds into a power play.

Selanne had two assists, including one to Saku Koivu in the first period.
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