Zuccarello, Staal lead Wild’s rally to 4-2 win over Ducks
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Mats Zuccarello got maybe the cleanest breakaway of his life when he stepped out of the penalty box at the perfect moment to receive a long pass from Joel Eriksson Ek after the Ducks turned over the puck.
After a mostly miserable season on the road, the Minnesota Wild finally got a break. They rode it all the way to a skid-snapping win.
Zuccarello scored the tying goal and got an assist on Eric Staal’s go-ahead goal early in the third period, and the Wild ended their five-game road losing streak with a 4-2 victory over Anaheim on Tuesday night.
Minnesota had given up two goals in 25 seconds and fallen behind 2-1 in the second period, but another potentially frustrating night on the road changed the moment Zuccarello exited the box.
“You’re always excited when you see that happening,” Zuccarello said. “It’s not often that happens, so it felt great. … It’s good to be able to get a win like that because whenever we’re down, we keep moving and keep playing hard.”
Kevin Fiala also scored and Alex Stalock made 29 saves for the Wild, who came back from a two-goal deficit for the first time this season to earn only their second win in nine road games. The Wild hadn’t won away from St. Paul since Oct. 14, but they were grateful to see some results from their improved recent efforts.
Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau felt the turnaround beginning even before Zuccarello’s fortunate goal.
“I think it was anger,” he said. “Just like some other teams have done to us, we got mad and we started taking the play to them. That first goal by Kevin was a real goal that said, ‘Hey, we can do this.’ It was like, ‘Oh, that’s not happening again.'”
Zach Parise added an empty-net goal to cap Minnesota’s four-goal rally, which provided a much-needed boost for the last-place club in the opener of a four-game West Coast trip.
Jacob Larsson got his first career goal and Rickard Rakell also scored for the Ducks, who failed to earn a point for the first time in four games on their seven-game homestand. Anaheim also lost for the first time in nine games this season when taking a lead into the third period.
“We are a tired team,” coach Dallas Eakins said of his Ducks, who have played 12 games in 23 days. “I think we’ve been kind of hanging on by a thread, and we need some practice time. … We started staying long on shifts. It doesn’t take much to put pressure on a team that can’t breathe.”
John Gibson stopped 22 shots but couldn’t prevent the Ducks’ collapse under an unusual late outburst of offense from Minnesota, the NHL’s second lowest-scoring team entering the night.
After a scoreless first period, Rakell put the Ducks ahead by scoring on his own rebound after a sweet pass from Sam Steel. Rakell ended his nine-game goal drought with his fourth goal of the season.
Just 25 seconds later, Larsson’s shot from near the blue line went behind a screen and beat Stalock. The promising 22-year-old Swedish defenseman finally got his first goal in his 69th NHL game.
Fiala got the Wild on the scoreboard midway through the period after an excellent cross-ice pass from Ryan Suter. The Swiss forward hadn’t scored a goal this season before getting one in Minnesota’s past two games.
“We were down 2-0, which is never nice, but our game got stronger as we went along,” Fiala said. “We kept pushing, and our third period was our best. It was a great period to come away with.”
Just over three minutes after Zuccarello’s goal, Minnesota took its first lead when Jason Zucker found Staal for his fifth goal of the season.
NOTES: The Ducks honored captain Ryan Getzlaf before the game for playing in his 1,000th career game last Sunday. Anaheim owners Henry and Susan Samueli presented Getzlaf with a silver hockey stick, among other gifts. Getzlaf’s five-game scoring streak ended. … Boudreau returned to the arena where he won four consecutive Pacific Division titles with Anaheim. The Ducks made it to Game 7 of the Western Conference finals in 2015, but he was fired in 2016 after a first-round playoff loss to Nashville. … Ducks F Ondrej Kase returned from a five-game absence with an upper-body injury.
Wild: Visit the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
Ducks: A four-day break before they host the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
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