With no Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu tonight, the Ducks were a one-line team, but that was good enough as the Wild had no answer for the size, the speed, the hands, the skill and the overall domination of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan. The trio scored every goal and combined for 11 points in a 6-2 win over the Wild.
The Wild returned home with its two-game win streak and four-game point streak (2-0-2) gone and still in 13th in the West, although in this conference, it's still four points from fifth -- which has to do with all the 3-point games.
Take Saturday night: 12 Western Conference teams played; 11 got one point or two in the standings. Absurd, which is why the four points from fifth or eighth means nothing when it comes to the Wild. The problem is the logjam to climb over.
As for tonight, Niklas Backstrom wasn't sharp early, and by the time he actually started making some Grade A stops, his team wasn't sharp in front of him, which was predictable after playing an early 5 p.m. game after playing a 7:30 game the night before.
Compounding the early start time was the fact that the Wild played OT the night before, had to expend energy and kill their legs on nine penalty kills and played in a physical contest against a huge LA team.
As coach Todd Richards said, "the decks were stacked against us," but he said the Wild had to find a way and it clearly didn't.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle was content getting his No. 1 line out all night against the Wild's No. 1 line, and the starpower won handily.
The frustrating thing about this one was the Ducks were playing the puck like a grenade the first two periods, and the Wild just couldn't capitalize on all the turnovers, other than Marty Havlat forcing three on one shift before setting up Brent Burns' third goal in three games and team-leading ninth of the season.
But against a team that had coughed up two-goal leads in each of the last three games, the Wild had a chance to tie on a third straight power play in the second. But with the score 3-2, it became 4-2 instead of 3-3 when Havlat and Cam Barker got awkwardly-spaced at the blue line. They were way too close, and then started getting casual with the passing. Perry poked it by for a breakaway, and both Havlat and Barker hooked him for a clear penalty shot, and eventual shorthanded penalty-shot goal, the Wild's fourth shortie given up this year (yes, it counts as shorthanded).
Then, things snowballed, starting with Ryan scoring with Mikko Koivu's stick. You'll read a lot about that in Monday's paper, so take a look at it there. But it was a classic, something I don't think I've seen. Koivu rips Ryan's stick out of his hands, then Ryan finds Koivu's lefty stick, turns it righty (the blade, I'm referring to), scores and, I felt, taunts Koivu with the stick by showing him whose stick he scored with.
When a reporter pointed out to Ryan after the game that both players are No. 9, Ryan said, "Same number, different hands."
Couldn't figure out which smiley to use there. Maybe this:
By the way here's Bobby Ryan on his Twitter after the game (b_ryan9): "Wish that was a missed quote. Ouch. Wasn't a taunt btw. Was enjoying my goal and showing perry I can score left handed!"
I think he meant misquote, ha. Say what you want about Ryan, but you've got to admire the brashness, the cockiness and the amazing skill. And least, that's what I think. The guy enjoys what he does, and is good at it.
The Wild's got nothing like Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan, and the irony of all ironies, the man who will be trying to get the Wild players like this, Chuck Fletcher, was in the house and is the man who helped get the Ducks Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan.
Remember, the Ducks traded two picks to move up to take Perry in the same draft it took Getzlaf. That had to do a lot with Fletcher's feeling on Perry.
And, as Brian Burke told me at the Olympics, "I believe you've got to give credit where credit is due, and [Wild GM] Chuck Fletcher is the guy. When he was on our staff in Anaheim, Chuck Fletcher is the guy that pushed hardest for Bobby Ryan, not me. What he's turned into, Chuck Fletcher deserves the credit."
Anyway, not a good end to what was a good trip, 2-0-1 if you include Dallas.
Backstrom wasn't sharp, and I bet they come back with Jose Theodore when Ottawa comes to town Thursday -- the night Dino Ciccarelli is honored.
Anyway, I have to run to LAX and get on a red-eye. I should have time at the airport. I usually do my best thinking in the car after games, so if anything else pops in my head, I'll update the blog.
No practice Monday. With the wind chill, by the time I return home, there will be over a 100-degree temperature change! It was fun while it lasted.