Bruce Boudreau attempted to collect his first win behind the bench in Anaheim vs. the Minnesota Wild, but Matt Cullen, Cal Clutterbuck, and the Minnesota Wild had other ideas.
Despite a promising start at the Honda Center, the new coach is still looking.
Despite the Wild forcing Jonas Hiller to make a few early saves in the first period, the Ducks weathered the storm and turned to the attack. With Nick Schultz whistled for a high stick on Devante Smith-Pelley, Boudreau set up an impressive power play unit featuring Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, Cam Fowler, and Kurtis Foster.
Controlling the movement of the puck from the faceoff, the Ducks moved the puck around before setting up Selanne at the right faceoff dot. The Finnish Flash sent a slow-rolling shot towards the edge of the net, which Corey Perry quickly redirected. Josh Harding was able to make the initial save, but the puck bounced to Ryan Getzlaf as he cruised towards the net. Dropping to one knee, the Anaheim captain ripped a rising shot into the back of the net.
Minnesota battered the Anaheim net in an attempt to even the score, but Hiller kept his team alive as the first period continued. Selanne would feature in the second Anaheim goal as well, carrying the puck into the Minnesota zone, curling behind the net, and holding the puck before threading a pass through the Wild defenders to Saku Koivu for a tap-in.
Unfortunately for the home crowd, the energy on the ice would begin to shift towards the visitors after Brad Staubitz challenged Jean-Francois Jacques to a tilt after the Koivu goal, and the Minnesota bench would use that energy to redouble their attack, finally drawing penalties on both Bobby Ryan (Interference) and Toni Lydman (High Sticking) in the dying minutes of the period.
Peppering Hiller with shots, the Wild power play cashed in when Matt Cullen picked up the rebound of a Mikko Koivu shot, then sent the puck up to Dany Heatley at the top of the zone. The former Shark had a good read on Hiller, one-timing a blast past the Anaheim goaltender's blocker side shoulder with four seconds left on the clock.
Minnesota continued to rally in the second period, with the Wild outshooting the Ducks 13-4. But Hiller and the Anaheim defense were able to turn the attacks away until the final minutes of the period, when Pierre-Marc Bouchard sent a long pass out of his zone to Matt Cullen at the Anaheim blue line. Cullen broke into the zone with Casey Wellman, stringing out defenders before passing off to Wellman on Hiller's doorstep. Wellman poked his shot through Hiller's legs, and the game was tied.
Bruce Boudreau called a time out to settle his team and attempt to refocus on their game plan, but the attempt would be frustrated by Cullen and his linemates almost before the announcers had finished discussing Wellman's goal. Cullen took the puck through the neutral zone and chip the puck to Bouchard. Passing the puck up ice and then catching it as he crossed the blue line, Bouchard back-handed the puck on net in flight. Hiller attempted to make a glove save, but the puck bounced off the top of his glove and into the net to give Minnesota their first lead of the night.
Cam Fowler, celebrating his 20th birthday on Monday, gave the Ducks a bit of hope midway through the third period when he intercepted a Cullen clearing attempt in the Minnesota zone and fired a low slapper to beat Harding, but the Ducks were unable to capitalize.
Cal Clutterbuck was the next player to place a stamp on the game a few minutes after the Fowler goal, taking the puck down the boards into the Anaheim Zone, then turning and firing a shot that would be redirected off the skate of Nick Johnson and past Hiller. The goal was reviewed, but video evidence confirmed that there was no kicking motion, and Minnesota was back in the lead.
Anaheim had a perfect opportunity to come back when Mikko Koivu was sent to the penalty box for a cross check on Matt Beleskey. Boudreau started the powerplay with a conventional attack, then called Jonas Hiller to the bench for a two man advantage with less than a minute to go. The Ducks missed a golden opportunity to tie when Selanne fanned on a shot at the open net, and though Corey Perry attempted to set the Finnish sniper up again, this time the puck hopped over his stick.
The missed pass bounced off the boards and out of the zone, and Clutterbuck retrieved the puck at center ice to shoot at the open cage. His first attempt went slightly wide of the net, but Clutterbuck caught off the back boards and deposited it neatly into the net for his league-leading fourth shorthanded goal. With a two goal lead restored and less than 14 seconds left in regulation, the Wild coasted to their fourth win in a row, while Bruce Boudreau continues to seek an answer on how to turn his struggling club around.