The sting of the season's first loss was deepened by the loss of scoring star Marian Gaborik to a strained groin.
ANAHEIM, CALIF. - The aftershocks of the earthquake that registered 4.5 on the Richter Scale in Northern California Friday morning seemed to trickle down to Southern California Friday night.
Or, that tremor inside the Honda Center was just the Wild falling back down to Earth.
Any dreams of an 82-0, 164-point Wild season were put to pasture Friday night in the O.C. when a hard-working Anaheim Ducks squad handed the Wild its first defeat, 2-1.
But the Wild has a whole lot more to worry about than one simple loss.
With the Wild already playing without checkers Wes Walz and Pascal Dupuis, right wing Marian Gaborik didn't play most of the third period with what the team called a "mild groin strain."
One problem, though.
There's no such thing as a "mild" groin strain when it comes to Gaborik.
Last year's leading goal scorer has had a history of abdominal problems, having surgery for a sports hernia in 2001 and missing all of last season's training camp and 17 games because of two separate groin injuries.
Gaborik has seemed to be laboring lately. He was limping badly after practice Thursday with his left groin wrapped. Asked if he was OK, Gaborik brushed it off as routine treatment to keep on top of his groin problems.
So upset after Friday's game, Gaborik, on the trainers table getting treatment, declined comment.
"I saw him limping and that's it," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "He'll be reevaluated [today]."
The Wild, which was looking to become the 10th team in NHL history to win at least its first seven games after the Buffalo Sabres became the ninth earlier in the evening, put forth a blue-collar effort Friday night but never could get the breaks that continually fell at its feet during the season's first six games.
"If we bring that intensity, we'll give ourselves a chance to win every night," said goalie Manny Fernandez, who stopped 27 of 29 shots after allowing four goals in his previous four wins. Defensemen Scott Niedermayer and Sean O'Donnell, the Wild's first captain, scored for the Ducks (5-0-2), and goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere resembled the unforgiving brick wall the Wild got to know well during the 2003 Western Conference Finals with 27 saves.
It was a game in which the 6-1 Wild had to deal with either Niedermayer or fellow Norris Trophy winner Chris Pronger on the ice virtually every shift. It was certainly a physical battle, and somehow, with Gaborik likely out, the Wild must find its legs with its first back-to-back test tonight at San Jose.
"That's why we added so much depth this summer," captain Brian Rolston said. "We've got plenty of guys that can do the job."
Fernandez had to work hard, expending more energy sliding back and forth across the paint because the Ducks often slid the puck just wide of the cage.
The teams also had a difficult time all night getting the puck to sit. It bounced around like a ping-pong ball thanks to choppy ice likely due to the 89-degree daytime weather outside.
Minnesota's power play couldn't get anything going. It went 0-for-5.
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