O.C. Ugly: Ducks blast Wild 6-2
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Watch hockey long enough and you may think you've seen everything. Then, on a rink not far from Disneyland, you see something so crazy that it could only be dreamed up in some magic kingdom.
Such was the case on Sunday night, as the Minnesota Wild ended their four-game western road trip with an ugly 6-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. The back-breaking Ducks goal was something out of a Hollywood crime drama where a cop gets shot with his own gun.
With his team up 4-2 in the second period, Ducks forward Bobby Ryan lost his stick in the offensive zone. He grabbed the nearest piece of lumber he saw on the ice, which just happened to belong to Wild captain Mikko Koivu. Using Koivu's stick, which is curved the wrong way for Ryan's natural shot hand, Ryan managed to shovel the puck past Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, then held the stick aloft for Koivu to see, as if to say, "thanks for the loaner."
The ugliness started early for the Wild, which was coming off a rousing 3-2 overtime win in Los Angeles on Saturday night. Things were much different about 20 hours later in Orange County, as the Ducks took their first lead less than 20 seconds into the game.
It was the first of 36 shots Backstrom would face, but not the most challenging. That would likely belong to a second period penalty shot that Ducks star Corey Perry cashed in upon. It was one of three goals Perry scored in the game, prompting a rain of hats from the Ducks faithful in the third period.
Wild coach Todd Richards told the assembled media that he asked the officials whether Ryan scoring with an opponents' stick was a legal play and was told there's no rule against it. He was more concerned with his team's second period play, where they had an opportunity to make it a better game.
"We were in the game, and a couple key mistakes, and it ends up in our net and now we're chasing," Richards said. The Wild goals were scored by Marek Zidlicky and Brent Burns, who got his team-leading ninth to briefly tie the game at 1-1.
It was sunny and in the high 80s on Sunday in Anaheim, meaning that once wind chill is figured in, players are facing roughly a 100-degree temperature difference when their plane lands in Minnesota.
After grabbing five of a possible eight points on the road trip, the Wild has three days off, which one hopes will be enough time for John Madden and Matt Cullen to get healthy enough to return to the lineup, before a home game with Ottawa on Thursday.