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Wild drop fifth straight in loss to Ducks

by Brian Compton
The Minnesota Wild made history on Sunday night, and it's not the kind that will leave them smiling.

The offensive woes continued for Jacques Lemaire's club, which dropped its fifth straight game in a 4-2 decision against the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center. It marked the first time in their nine-year history that the Wild have lost five consecutive games in regulation. They've scored only five goals during that span.

Eric Belanger had a goal and an assist, while Marc-Andre Bergeron contributed with a power-play tally. While the Wild still came up short, Lemaire saw signs of progress against the Ducks.

''This was our best game in the last five,'' said Lemaire, whose team has been outscored 13-5 and outshot 183-142 during the skid. ''We played with more intensity. We battled for pucks and we tried hard. You could see the energy and the intensity was there.''

The Ducks, however, played with energy and intensity, too. Anaheim scored twice in the first 6:23 of the game, as Ryan Getzlaf scored 98 seconds after the opening faceoff to give his team a 1-0 lead. Corey Perry then made it 2-0 with his eighth goal of the season. Chris Kunitz assisted on both tallies.

''It was nice to see that line chip in as much as they did tonight,'' Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger said of Kunitz, Getzlaf and Perry. ''It's fun to watch when they're moving the puck like that. All three of them are very creative. Perry and Getzlaf are great down low in the corners and behind the net. Kunitz does a lot of the speed work up and down the wings, while the other two cycle around in the corners and create traffic in front.''

Bergeron cut the deficit in half at 12:15 of the first with his third goal of the season. After Travis Moen was whistled for cross-checking, Bergeron took a pass from Belanger and fired a slap shot from the point that found its way through a crowd and past Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere to make it 2-1.

Belanger tied things up with an even-strength tally at 2:32 of the second period. The Wild forward finished off a 2-on-1 with Pierre-Marc Bouchard, as he took a cross-ice feed from the latter and snapped a wrist shot past Giguere.

"We got a 2-0 lead and then we let them back in," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "It changed the momentum of the game. All of a sudden, the pressure was all on us to get the next one, and we found a way to get it. I thought overall our work ethic was good. We had a contribution from every guy and that is what's important."

Giguere -- who was 0-3 against Minnesota with a 4.40 goals-against average last season -- made 26 saves for the victory. He stopped all eight shots he faced in the third period to protect the two-goal lead.

''They're a team that works hard, so it's important to outwork them if you want to be successful,'' Giguere said. ''Last year, the three games I lost, there was a lack of effort and focus. So tonight everybody wanted to be focused. Even though they don't score many goals, they don't give up many goals, either.''

Brendan Morrison scored what proved to be the game-winner just over four minutes after Belanger's tally. The Ducks' center was able to get around Bergeron and redirected Todd Marchant's feed past Minnesota goalie Josh Harding to make it 3-2. It was Morrison's fourth goal of the season.

''These games are tough to play because they're really disciplined in their system,'' Morrison said. ''They're a team that feasts on turnovers, so you've got to make sure you get the puck deep in their zone. We were talking in here before the game about the fact that we really needed to drive to the net and go after loose pucks.''

Bobby Ryan gave Anaheim an insurance goal with 1:14 remaining in the second period. After enforcer George Parros intercepted Kim Johnsson's clearing pass, he quickly found Ryan and the young forward beat an out-of-position Harding to make it 4-2. Harding stopped 30 of 34 shots for the Wild.

"Any time I can get our team a victory and help out in that, I'm definitely pleased," Parros said. "It was a good insurance goal for us. I had just come off the bench, so I had the whole view of the play in front of me. I don't think their D-man saw me when I was coming into the zone. He tried to make an outlet pass to the guy at the boards. I was lucky enough to be there to intercept it and find Bobby in front, who was waiting for the one-timer."

With the victory, Anaheim improved to 12-0-0 when leading after two periods. 

"It's a good sign for us," Morrison said. "It was a little adversity for this group tonight. We had a great start. They got right back in the game there. We were able to respond."

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.

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