ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Matt Cullen scored a short-handed goal, Eric Nystrom scored his first career power-play goal and the Minnesota Wild beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-1 Friday night.
Mikko Koivu, Kyle Brodziak and Martin Havlat also scored for Minnesota, which had scored just two goals in its last two games.
Corey Perry scored for the Ducks, who lost on the road for the first time in seven games. Anaheim remains three points behind Phoenix in the Pacific Division, and is tied with three other teams for sixth place in the Western Conference standings. The Wild are 10th, one point back.
With Minnesota up 2-1 midway through the second period, Nystrom completed a 3-on-2 rush by beating Curtis McElhinney high on the stick side, just as Chuck Kobasew sprayed the goalie with ice shavings.
Less than 2 minutes later, Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler failed to clear Brodziak from the crease and the Wild center was able to swat in a rebound of Cal Clutterbuck’s shot.
McElhinney struggled in his second straight start since the Ducks placed starting goaltender Jonas Hiller on injured reserve with a recurrence of fatigue and lightheadedness. McElhinney allowed seven goals Wednesday to Washington, calling his performance “disheartening.”
Conversely, Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom continued his sensational month, stopping 29 shots. He has allowed just eight goals in six February starts.
His lone misstep came early in the first period when Perry tipped a harmless looking shot from Bobby Ryan off Backstrom’s left leg and into the net. However, Koivu tied it 91 seconds later, fighting off Lubomir Visnovsky as he came out from the end boards and stuffing the puck past McElhinney on his second try. Koivu left the game with an upper-body injury after the first period and did not return.
Cullen scored short-handed late in the first period for a 2-1 Wild lead.
During a four-second 5-on-3 for the Ducks, Brodziak intercepted a pass from Visnovsky in the Wild end, took a stride and saw Cullen sprinting out of the penalty box behind the defense. Cullen went in alone and beat McElhinney high on the stick side. It was his fourth short-handed goal of the season to tie him with Boston’s Brad Marchand and Frans Nielsen of the New York Islanders for the league lead.
Havlat scored a power-play goal in the third period.
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NOTES: Perry has 14 points during his current seven-game point streak. … D Marek Zidlicky returned to the Minnesota lineup after missing 21 games with a separated shoulder. … Anaheim fell to 9-2-2 against the Northwest Division. … Minnesota is scheduled to practice outdoors Saturday for the first time in team history.
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