ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The NHL-leading Anaheim Ducks had plenty of problems against the pesky Minnesota Wild. Claustrophobia wasn’t one of them.
Zach Parise had a goal and two assists, Mikael Granlund scored the go-ahead goal on a power play early in the second period and Darcy Kuemper made 31 saves for the Wild in a 4-2 victory Tuesday night. It was only the second home loss in regulation for the Ducks, who are 21-2-3 at Honda Center.
“I think their record at home pretty much speaks for itself. It is not an easy rink to come and play at. They play really well here,” Parise said. “I think we had a really good start. We didn’t sit back. I think even when we had the lead, we kept going at them. We didn’t get passive. We put them on their heels, as opposed to us being on our heels.”
Back indoors following their 3-0 victory over the Kings on Saturday at Dodger Stadium, coach Bruce Boudreau and the Ducks lost for just the fourth time in their last 25 games after coming in 39-10-5. Dustin Penner and Mathieu Perreault scored for Anaheim, and Jonas Hiller stopped 29 shots.
“It’s not like us to have a game like that,” defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. “Bruce warned us in his speech after the outdoor game: ‘The outdoor game wasn’t our Stanley Cup.’ That was one game, and it’s over now. Tonight we got crushed by the Wild. I don’t know if it was an emotional letdown, but it was certainly a letdown in our play.”
Jason Pominville and Erik Haula also scored for the Wild, who are 9-3-1 in their last 13 games after ending December with six straight losses. Kuemper is 6-2-1 with a 1.85 goals-against average in nine starts since getting recalled from the minors on Jan. 2.
“I thought we frustrated them by not giving them much,” Pominville said. “Obviously, they have some elite players, guys that will make things happen and make plays. But I thought for the most part we limited their quality opportunities.”
After going 0 for 21 on the power play in its previous eight games, Minnesota took a 2-1 lead 13 seconds into the second period while Penner was off for slashing Jonas Brodin. Granlund cruised down the slot and redirected Parise’s cross-ice feed past Hiller’s stick for his fourth goal.
Both of Minnesota’s third-period goals came on deflections of shots by defenseman Marco Scandella from the left point — one by Parise with 13:25 remaining, the other by Haula with 10:39 to play.
“It was a pretty messy game for us out there,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “We were just sloppy. We were standing around and watching a lot in our own zone instead of pressuring them. We obviously didn’t have our legs tonight. I didn’t play well, and I’ve got to be better than that.”
Pominville opened the scoring at 7:57 of the first with his 21st of the season, banking the puck in off Hiller’s left leg from behind the net after Granlund’s one-timer from the high slot was blocked by Matt Beleskey.
Penner tied it at 18:13 with his 13th goal, beating Kuemper high to the glove side with a one-timer from the left circle after Getzlaf set him up from behind the net. But Penner went to the penalty box just 19 seconds later, setting up the power play that resulted in Granlund’s goal.
“We didn’t bring it tonight,” Lovejoy said. “We were far too loose and careless with the puck.”
Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa returned to the lineup for the first time since Nov. 22 after missing 29 games because of a torn tendon in his right hand, and picked up the first two penalties of the game — both for hooking in the opening period.
“Physically, I felt great. The toughest part was getting prepared mentally,” Sbisa said.
The Ducks got their first power-play opportunity at 7:34 of the second after a holding call against Mike Rupp, but looked as though they were the ones who were short-handed. Hiller stoned Matt Cooke on a 5-foot wrist shot to the glove side, and the Wild had a 2-on-1 moments later before Ryan Suter’s 40-foot wrist shot from the left circle slid just wide of the right post.
“Right from the start, it just seemed like we didn’t have that extra step in our game and it just carried over throughout the entire game,” Sbisa said.
Anaheim began an 11-game stretch in which all but one will be on home ice, including five straight at Honda Center coming out of the Olympic break.
NOTES: Anaheim D Cam Fowler blocked a slap shot by Nino Niederreiter with 35 seconds left in the second period and slumped to the ice, but continued playing while favoring his right leg until the horn sounded. Fowler was back on the ice for the start of the third. … Anaheim was 23-4-2 during Sbisa’s absence. … Minnesota is 21-1-3 when leading after two periods.
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