Mike Yeo asks for patience as Ducks become latest to ice Wild offense
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild couldn't dig themselves out of an early hole on Thursday, as their offense once again faded quietly into the night in a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
The sputtering offense continues to fail to live up to preseason expectations. The Wild managed just two goals for the fifth consecutive game despite outshooting the Ducks 25-16.
"Guys are getting chances," Wild coach Mike Yeo said, "but the puck just isn't going in the goal."
The small Thursday night crowd of 15,723 showed their displeasure for the lack of scoring by booing throughout the third period. But Yeo asked for patience from the fans.
"No, I am not getting (impatient)," Yeo said. "How long have we been talking about this? Since summer? I don't know when it is going to happen. I can't sit up here and say, 'OK at the 12-game mark all of a sudden our game is going to be there.' It is impossible to do. We are trying to create a new culture and a new system."
Ducks right wing Corey Perry opened the scoring with a power play goal at 8:49 of the first period after Darroll Powe was called for holding. Perry's fourth goal of the season -- his 10th against the Wild since 2008-09 -- marked the fifth consecutive time the Ducks have lit the lamp first against the Wild.
The Ducks scored again with a tap-in goal by right wing Bobby Ryan at 7:01 of the second period to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead over a Wild team that was struggling to form any semblance of offense.
The seemingly never-ending 0-for-20 power play streak was finally snapped when some clever puck movement led to defensemen Jared Spurgeon blasting a shot past out-of-position goalie Jonas Hiller to cut the deficit in half.
The Ducks once again opened scoring in the third period on a power play goal by Ryan Getzlaf at 3:58. The Wild got within a goal when center Matt Cullen answered back with the Wild's second power play goal of the night to make it 3-2, but that was as close as the Wild would get.
The Wild led the Ducks in nearly ever statistical category except the final score and Yeo wanted to spend more time focusing on the positives as his team fell to 3-3-3 early in the season.
"Obviously, we wanted to win this game in front of our home crowd but you have to look at the big picture as far as, did we deserve to win this game? I believe we did," he said. "We did some things that prevented us from winning the game still. That game was one play away from us."
That one play could have come in the final minutes of the second period, when center Mikko Koivu had the best opportunity of his three shots-on-goal to get his first tally of the season, but his rebound attempt was quickly gobbled up by Hiller.
Yeo refused to get down on his captain despite the scoreless streak to open the season.
"I am not going down that road," Yeo said. "I think this was his best game. That second and third period was the best he has been playing in the offensive zone."
Koivu finished with an assist on the power play goal from Cullen in the third period.
The Ducks had nine fewer shots than the Wild but they made their goals look effortless.
Three of their four goals came on tap-ins from close range, just the way the pee-wee coach would draw it up on the whiteboard to educate his young team.
"We didn't give them much but when they had their chances, players like that are going to finish it off," defensemen Justin Falk said. "Before we know it, a couple are in the back of the net (on power plays)."
The Wild appeared to want to make a game out of it after Cullen scored a power play goal at the 13:54 mark to get within a goal. But the Wild never could find the equalizer, thanks in large part to back-to-back penalties from Guillaume Latendresse (delay of game) and Cullen (tripping) in the final five minutes.
The penalties left the Wild with only 20 seconds to pull goalie Niklas Backstrom but the Wild ran out of time before any real shot at sending the game to overtime materialized.
• 5: Number of consecutive games against the Ducks the Wild have given up the opening goal.
• 20: Number of power plays the Wild had gone without scoring a goal before Spurgeon's second period goal finally got the Wild off the schneid.
• 0: Goals by Wild captain Mikko Koivu through nine games in 2011.
• 5: Game home winning streak against the Ducks snapped after Thursday's loss.
Left wing Guillaume Latendresse returned after missing last Saturday's overtime loss in Vancouver with a groin injury.
Defenseman Greg Zanon missed his second consecutive game with a groin injury after missing just three games total in the past four seasons. Zanon will continue to be listed as day-to-day going forward.
Defenseman Clayton Stoner left the game with what Yeo would describe as a hand injury, but no further update was given.
Ducks - Corey Perry 4 (Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne) 8:47 PPG
Ducks - Ryan Getzlaf (4) (Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry) 3:58 PPG
Shots: Wild 8-11-6-25; Ducks 4-7-6-16. Saves: Wild,Niklas Backstrom (13-16); Ducks, Jonas Hiller (23-25). Power plays: Wild 2-for-5, Canucks 2-6.
The team gets Friday off before opening up a home-and-home of sorts against the Detroit Red Wings at the Xcel Energy Center Saturday, with the return leg coming next Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena. This will be the second meeting this season between the Wild and Red Wings, who won 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 15 and entered Thursday night in second place of the Western Conference Central Division with 10 points.