Wild: A finale most foul

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 20, 2007 - 1:48 AM

The Wild's season ended with a thud, its power play stifled and the Ducks having their way on offense.

Ryan Getzlaf scores game-winner
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Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf reacted after scoring the game-winning goal on a four-minute power play. It was Getzlaf’s second goal of the series.

Photo: Chris Carlson, Associated Press

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ANAHEIM, CALIF. - Talk about anticlimactic.

After seven months of hard work and a record 104-point season, Wild players didn't even have time to grow a playoff beard.

It was more like a playoff stubble.

"Wild Fever" lasted all of eight days as the dejected team was brusquely sent packing for the summer Thursday night when the bigger, stronger Anaheim Ducks closed out the Western Conference Finals in five games with a dominating 4-1 win at the Honda Center.

"If you're any type of athlete and you're satisfied just making the playoffs, you're a bit of a loser," said veteran Wes Walz, an Original Wild player who at age 36 could have played his last game with Minnesota because he's a free agent this summer. "You play the game to win championships."

Carryover from an ugly ending to Game 4 began even before Game 5 started when both teams converged at center ice during warm-ups for a heated exchange, which included Derek Boogaard and George Parros trading pushes and Mark Parrish getting punched twice in the melon by Shawn Thornton.

But, when the Wild looks back at this series over the next several sleepless nights, it'll lament its power play, which failed time and time again en route to this early holiday.

Thursday's sorry power play performance was a new low and cost the Wild at least a chance to force a Game 6 back in Minnesota on Saturday.

Trailing 1-0 -- only because of the marvelous play of goaltender Niklas Backstrom -- the Wild was given a magnificent chance to rally in the second period when it drew a double minor, with a two-minute 5-on-3 smacked in between.

The Wild didn't come close to scoring, wound up going 0 for 5 in the game and finished the series 2 for 27 on the power play.

"Same old thing," left wing Brian Rolston said. "We didn't score a power-play goal tonight. That's the difference in the game. That's the difference in the series, really."

Fittingly, Anaheim's winner came on Ryan Getzlaf's power play goal, the Ducks' fifth of the series, 47 seconds after Marian Gaborik tied the game with a shorthanded goal.

The Wild displayed again why it would vote at the next Board of Governors meeting for the chance to decline power plays, at least the ones on the road.

Chris Pronger scored 62 seconds into the game, but the Wild snagged a four-minute power play when Gaborik was high-sticked by Scott Niedermayer in the middle frame. Then, in the middle of the advantages, Sean O'Donnell flipped the puck in the crowd for a delay of game penalty.

That gave the Wild a two-minute 5-on-3, but Jean-Sebastien Giguere, making his first start since March 31, only had to face two Brian Rolston slap shots and a Petteri Nummelin shot from way out. He swallowed both.

"The power play guys, we've got to step up," Parrish said. "We've got to take advantage of that, a full two minutes on a 5-on-3. We got some decent shots, but in the playoffs, that's not good enough."

Coach Jacques Lemaire was so desperate at the end, he threw out the 6-foot-7 Boogaard to stand in the middle of the net, hoping Giguere would be blinded. It didn't work. The Wild failed dramatically during the four-minute sequence, causing the crowd to erupt.

Unbelievably, the Wild eventually tied it up after Boogaard took a double minor for cutting open Kent Huskins with a high stick. Walz broke loose of Niedermayer and took off on a 2-on-1 with Gaborik.

  • Anaheim 4, Wild 1

    ANAHEIM WINS BEST-OF-SEVEN SERIES 4-1

    NHL PLAYOFFS • FIRST ROUND

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Ryan Getzlaf scores game-winner