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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 2, Ducks 1

Minnesota wins one for Boudreau in return to Anaheim, finishes off 2-0-1 trip to West Coast

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 2-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center in Anaheim on Sunday night:

1. Bruce Boudreau flew under the radar in his return to Anaheim (21-13-8), but got exactly what he came for.

Boudreau, who guided the Ducks to four Pacific Division titles in parts of five seasons in Orange County, wasn't acknowledged in his return to the Honda Center like former Wild coaches Mike Yeo and Rick Wilson were upon St. Louis' first trip back to Xcel Energy Center earlier this season.

But a pair of second-period goals scored less than two minutes apart (more on that below) pushed Minnesota ahead, and the Wild held on over the final 20 minutes for the 2-1 win.

"We could tell that he was looking forward to it, with subtle hints he had been giving for about a week," said Wild forward Zach Parise. "We knew how important it was for him. It's the same for a player playing against your former team; you want to win that game really bad. We knew how important it was for him, and I'm really glad we were able to get the win."

Video: Zach Parise Postgame at Anaheim

"He's candid and emotional. He's a human being," said Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. "You can tell this game meant a lot to him, and that meant a lot to us."

It was the best possible birthday gift Wild players could provide its coach, who celebrates his 62nd birthday on Monday.

"When you win, it's easy to face the questions," Boudreau said. "But it's always great coming back. I saw an awful lot of people I knew and [they] treated me really well. It was a good birthday present."

The Wild saw its seven-game road winning streak snapped on Saturday in Los Angeles, but it kept its road point streak alive (now at 10 games) and finished off one of its best trips to the West Coast in recent memory at 2-0-1.

2. Minnesota (25-9-5) used its power play to grab momentum in the second period.

After trailing by a goal at the first intermission, the Wild jumped on the Ducks early in the second, drawing a power play 3:23 into the period when Logan Shaw got tagged for roughing Jordan Schroeder at center.

Just 35 seconds later, Parise drew a hooking call on Anaheim's Cam Fowler, giving the Wild 1:25 of two-man advantage to try and draw even.

It wouldn't need that much time. 

Forty-one seconds into the 5-on-3, Parise feathered a pass to defenseman Matt Dumba near the top of the left circle, one that Dumba hammered through Ducks goaltender John Gibson to tie the game at 1-1.

Video: MIN@ANA: Dumba buries Parise's feed for PPG

"It's getting to the point where we're getting a goal a game on [the power play]," Boudreau said. "If we continue to do that, the confidence will soar and we'll start to get two a game. When your power play and penalty kill and special teams are doing well, it seems like the rest of the game picks up."

With more than a minute of 5-on-4 remaining, Minnesota continued to push after the goal. Moments after the power play expired, Jared Spurgeon's blast from almost the same spot got through traffic and changed direction at least once in front of Gibson before rippling the twine behind him.

Video: MIN@ANA: Spurgeon rips wrister, gives Wild first lead

The two goals, scored 1:42 apart, highlighted one of Minnesota's most dominant stretches in some time, as the Wild outshot the Ducks 16-6 in the second period and took a one-goal lead into the final period.

3. Much to the chagrin of Boudreau, Minnesota's goals-against had been creeping up of late. That number was back in check on Sunday.

The NHL's stingiest team for most of the season, Minnesota has uncharacteristically given up goals in bunches over the past six games, allowing four goals in five of those contests (entering play against the Ducks). 

"We have given up a lot. I think that was a key tonight, kinda bear down and button down the hatches and make sure that we were good defensively," said Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. "We gave up a few plays; [Dubnyk] was able to stop them, but for the most part, I thought we played well defensively."

Video: Ryan Suter Postgame at Anaheim

Sometimes, the Wild has overcome opponent onslaughts, getting wins over the Rangers, Islanders and Sharks.

But it has also lost games against the Blue Jackets and Kings, and scoring five or six goals (or seven, as it did at Madison Square Garden before Christmas) is simply unsustainable.

Sunday's effort was more like the Wild team seen for much of the season. Minnesota limited both shots on goal and quality chances, which made life easier for Dubnyk, who made 23 saves to earn the victory. 

"I was glad [Dubnyk] got back into the groove," Boudreau said.

Boudreau mentioned earlier on the trip that he thought a 2-1 win was exactly what the Wild needed to get back into that defensive mindset. On Sunday, he got it.

"It just slipped away for a while, and I truly believe it was because we were scoring a lot of goals and people were starting to cheat for the offense rather than doing the job that we're supposed to do and letting everything else take care of itself," Boudreau said. "Today, we had two goals called back that almost were goals, and I thought we had some good chances where we could've still scored three and four goals, but we played strong defensively."

Loose Pucks

• Minnesota snapped Anaheim's three-game winning streak.

• Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 34 saves.

• The Wild killed all three Anaheim power plays.

• Minnesota improved to 10-5-1 this season when the opponent scores first. The Wild had five wins (5-25-6) all of last season in similar scenarios. 

• Attendance: 15,645

He Said It

"It wasn't an easy back-to -ack; we played two tough teams; they were sitting here waiting for us. I thought we responded well and it was nice to get the win for him, for sure." -- Wild forward Jason Pominville on getting the win for Boudreau in Anaheim

They Said It

"We weren't physically involved in the game and mentally it was like we lost ourselves for 15 or so minutes." -- Ducks coach Randy Carlyle 

Three Stars

* Eric Staal

** John Gibson

*** Ryan Kesler

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