Wild tip Ducks in Boudreau's return to Anaheim

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[January 09, 2017]  ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau was glad he completed his pregame preparations at the hotel prior to arriving at Honda Center on Sunday afternoon.

That was because every two minutes, somebody was dropping by the visitor's locker room to say hello.

Boudreau got back to work when the puck dropped and guided the Wild to a 2-1 victory in his first meeting against the Anaheim Ducks since the organization fired him last April.

"Your players know you want to win, so it was nice to see they played as well as they did," he said.

Boudreau was quickly scooped up by the Wild after he was let go by the Ducks despite leading Anaheim to four consecutive Pacific Division titles. Now he has the Wild playing stellar hockey, as they improved to 14-1-1 since Dec. 4.

No victory was sweeter than Sunday's, however.

"You can tell this game meant a lot to him, and it meant a lot to us as well," said Minnesota goalkeeper Devan Dubnyk, who stopped 23 shots.

Zach Parise said for the last week Boudreau was dropping "subtle hints" about the importance of this game, though the Wild faced two difficult road challenges against the Sharks and Kings before this matchup. Minnesota won at San Jose and fell in overtime at Los Angeles.

"We all knew how important this game was for him," Parise said. "I'm glad that we were able to get the win."

The Wild took advantage of two penalties 35 seconds apart early in the second period to erase a 1-0 deficit and take the lead.

Anaheim fourth-line center Logan Shaw went to the box for roughing and defenseman Cam Fowler followed with a hooking penalty. Ducks goaltender John Gibson (34 saves) made a huge stop on Eric Staal in close, but the Wild maintained possession and Parise slid a pass to Matt Dumba, who beat Gibson through the pads with a one-timer.

The Ducks managed to kill the 1:19 left on the man advantage, but never got the puck out of their zone before Jared Spurgeon scored on a wrist shot for a 2-1 lead. That was the 10th shot on goal since the Shaw penalty, while the Ducks had none in that span.

Anaheim had its chances with the man advantage in the second period, drawing its first two penalties about 2 1/2 minutes apart. However, the Ducks failed to get a shot on goal on either power play and were ultimately outshot 16-6 in the second period.

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 Both teams went through a lengthy feeling-out period to start the game, combining for five shots on goal through the first 10 minutes, a stretch that also included a Minnesota power play.

Shortly after the power play ended, the Wild missed two good scoring chances while holding the puck in the Anaheim zone for nearly a minute, including a blast off the post by defenseman Ryan Suter from just inside the blue line.

The Ducks then managed to get the puck out of their end, and Ryan Kesler's line hopped on the ice.

Andrew Cogliano battled Wild defenseman Marco Scandella for the puck coming out from behind the Minnesota net, and it squirmed out to Jakob Silfverberg at the top of the right circle. Silfverberg took a couple strides toward the dot and took a shot that was saved by Dubnyk, but the rebound came out in front of the crease, where Kesler was there to bat it in the net at the 8:16 mark.

It was Kesler's 16th goal of the season, moving him into a tie for the team lead, and 25th of his career against Minnesota, the most he has scored against any NHL team.

The Ducks fell to 16-4-2 when they score first this season, 22-1-1 in games all time in which Kesler scores a goal at Honda Center.

NOTE: Ducks C Ryan Getzlaf missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury sustained Jan. 1 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Getzlaf remains day-to-day. ... D Korbinian Holzer was a healthy scratch for the third straight contest for Anaheim, as rookie D Brandon Montour remained in the lineup for the third straight game and fifth of his career. ... D Nate Prosser and RW Kurtis Gabriel were healthy scratches for the Wild. Gabriel played Saturday in an overtime loss at the Los Angeles Kings after sitting out the previous four contests. C Jordan Schroeder, who has two goals and two assists in eight games this season, drew back into the lineup after sitting Saturday.

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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