Associated Press, Published October 07 2009
NHL: Brunette nets OT goal for the WildST. PAUL – Andrew Brunette’s power-play goal in overtime lifted the Wild to a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night in Minnesota’s home opener.
Trailing 3-0 with less than 14 minutes to play in the third, the Wild got goals from Mikko Koivu, Petr Sykora and Eric Belanger to send the game to overtime.
The Ducks got second period goals from Joffrey Lupul, Evgeny Artyukhin and Saku Koivu but were held to just two shots in the final 20 minutes of regulation as Minnesota rallied.
It was an exciting start for Minnesota with Todd Richards coaching his first regular season game in his home state for the Wild, who are now 8-0-1 all-time in home openers since joining the NHL in 2000.
Looking to bounce back after being thumped 4-1 by San Jose at the Honda Center on Saturday, the Ducks instead saw a seemingly secure lead slip away.
With the teams skating four-on-four in overtime, Anaheim’s James Wisniewski was penalized for roughing during a post-whistle skirmish. Brunette poked a puck past Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastian Giguere on the ensuing power play for the Wild’s first win of the season.
Lupul, who returned to Anaheim in the June trade that sent star defenseman Chris Pronger to Philadelphia, opened the scoring with his first goal of the season near the five-minute mark of the second, tipping a Ryan Whitney shot past Minnesota goalie Nicklas Backstrom. Less than a minute later Lupul was helped from the ice after going down to block an Antti Miettinen shot and getting hit in the face by the puck. He returned to the game after receiving stitches over his right eyebrow.
Artyukhin and Saku Koivu scored in quick succession later, building a 3-0 lead for the Ducks.
Giguere, who has made a habit of frustrating the Wild in his career, looked solid for two periods, and shakier in the third, finishing with 28 saves.
Richards, who was hired for his first NHL head coaching job by new general manager Chuck Fletcher over the summer, has talked of instilling a more wide-open game than Minnesota fans are used to after nearly a decade with defensive-minded Jacques Lemaire running the show. Things were more wide-open on Tuesday, but instead of creating offense for Minnesota, the Wild often looked uncharacteristically disorganized on defense through the first two periods. Held to just 17 shots through the first 45 minutes, the Wild offense finally cranked into gear late.
Backstrom finished with 16 saves for Minnesota.
NOTES: Martin Havlat, the Wild’s most talked-about off-season acquisition, assisted on all three Minnesota goals. ... The Ducks have not lost in regulation in their last 10 road game, after finishing the 2008-09 regular season on a 7-0-2 streak away from home. ... With Minnesota on a power play late in the first period and the puck at neutral ice, fans in the building erupted in a loud ovation as the Minnesota Twins’ game-winning hit versus the Tigers was shown on televisions in the arena’s concourse and suites.
Anaheim 0 3 0 0 – 3
Minnesota 0 0 3 1 – 4
Second period: 1, Anaheim, Lupul 1 (Whitney, Wisniewski), 4:57. 2, Anaheim, Artyukhin 1 (Perry, Getzlaf), 7:06. 3, Anaheim, S.Koivu 1 (Wisniewski, Whitney), 10:56 (pp).
Third period: 4, Minnesota, M.Koivu 1 (Havlat, Brunette), 6:29 (pp). 5, Minnesota, Sykora 1 (Havlat, Belanger), 12:10. 6, Minnesota, Belanger 1 (Havlat, Burns), 17:47 (pp).
Overtime: 7, Minnesota, Brunette 2 (Belanger, Johnsson), 3:08 (pp).
Shots on Goal – Anaheim 7-10-2-0 – 19. Minnesota 10-7-13-2 – 32.
Goalies: Anaheim, Giguere 0-0-1 (32 shots-28 saves). Minnesota, Backstrom 1-1-0 (19-16).
A – 18,256 (18,064). T – 2:35.