Stephane Veilleux's contract drive has begun in earnest. Don't believe me? Ask Jonas Hiller.
The Minnesota Wild finally finished their six-game, 10-day Western odyssey with a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Sunday night at Honda Center. Veileux's two-goal evening helped the Wild end the road trip with 2 wins, 4 losses and no overtime points as they come home (finally) to face the San Jose Sharks Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center.
Veilleux's night to remember started just 1:08 into the game, as he banged home a rebound after a scramble off Anaheim's Hiller to make it 1-0 Wild, only the second time in their last four games that they have led at any point in the game. The only goal of the period found the Wild in the unusual (for this road trip) position of having a lead at the end of the first period.
The second period was just like the first, until MAB didn't hear the footsteps of Todd Marchant coming up from behind him while Niklas Backstrom was playing the puck behind the Minnesota goal during a mid-period power play for the Wild. Marchant stole the puck off MAB's stick, wheeled and fired it into the yawning net, as Backstrom slid in vain to try and block the shot. 1-all at that point, and it stayed that way until Kim Johnsson stole the puck off the stick of an Anaheim defender, Owen Nolan slid it over to a rushing Veilleux who slapped it by Hiller top shelf to make it 2-1 Wild at the end of two periods.
The third period saw a frustrated Anaheim team try to generate offense, but with the amount of turnover the Ducks have seen recently (three trades at or near the deadline) the will of the Ducks just wasn't there like before. Andrew Brunette's goal 11:49 into the third period (with a great set-up by James Sheppard) sealed the deal, even though Scott Niedermayer did manage to score with 21 seconds left in the game, after a scramble where Backstrom actually had the puck concealed, but the referees were glacially slow in whistling the play dead.
The Wild end the season 2-4 in the Golden State, and the season series between the Ducks and Wild ends with two wins each.
Chicken Little: 2-4 road trip? Yeah, we'll get to the playoffs playing like that. Uh-huh.
Pollyanna: Great to see the third line scoring! 3 goals in the last 2 games!
Bottom Line: I thought the Wild were bad at times lately (and they have been). But nothing compared to the Ducks team we saw tonight. The Ducks are a team in total disarray right now. I wonder if Chris Pronger wishes he had been traded at the deadline. The Wild wanted this game more than the Ducks did. Backstrom showed flashes of his old form, and they boys actually played a little offense with the 'hockey prevent' defense tonight. Time to come home, boys.
Stud: Veilleux. Two goals for the night, showed a lot of hustle and got rewarded for it. Honorable mention to Cal Clutterbuck for pushing the right buttons of about half the Anaheim roster, especially Pronger.
Dud: Tie tonight! MAB for his bone-headed play which led to the first Anaheim goal, and Marek Zidlicky for his less-than-stellar effort (-2 on the night) this evening.
Next: vs. San Jose, Tuesday, March 10, 7:00 PM Central (5 PM Pacific) Time, Xcel Energy Center. (TV: KSTC-45, Comcast SportsNet-Bay Area; XM Ch. 239)