The Minnesota Wild will head into the finale of their season-opening, four-game road trip on Wednesday at Anaheim fully aware that waiting until the third period to pounce is not a viable strategy moving forward.
The Wild will face the Ducks again, two days after they were handcuffed in a 1-0 defeat at Anaheim when the hosts used the third period to their advantage. Anaheim's Nicolas Deslauriers scored four minutes into the final period and Ducks goaltender John Gibson made the lone goal stand up.
Minnesota had won each of its first two games of the season using two third-period goals to tie both games against the Los Angeles Kings before winning in overtime.
On Tuesday, the Wild took nine shots on goal without scoring in the third period, their lowest number of shots in any of the three periods. They were shut out despite taking 34 shots to 27 by Anaheim.
In the end, Minnesota's frustration with Gibson proved costly. With the Wild still trying to scramble late for a tie, Minnesota's Nick Bjugstad crashed hard into Gibson behind the Anaheim goal with 3:44 remaining. The Wild were able to kill off the ensuing two-minute Ducks power play after Bjugstad was called for charging.
A bigger concern is the Wild still do not have a power-play goal this season. They were 0-for-5 on the man advantage Monday and are now 0-for-16 on the power play this season. It was an area of focus during practice even before the Monday game.
"We have to score on that," Minnesota's Zach Parise said of the power play. "It's three games now and we haven't got anything. We are moving the puck around fine. We are getting time in the zone. We have to get the results, especially in a game like this."
The Ducks made incremental advances before registering their first victory of the season. They lost their season opener 5-2 on Thursday on the road against Vegas and had a victory in sight Saturday against the Golden Knights.
In another 1-0 duel Saturday, Vegas scored the game-tying goal with 1:22 remaining in regulation and won it seven seconds into overtime. On Monday, the Ducks were able to finish off the victory thanks to Gibson.
"He just looks so calm and so square and so big in the net," Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said after Gibson made 34 saves in his 20th career shutout. "I always think when a goalie's playing really well he makes big saves look really easy, and that's certainly what he looked like. He's certainly dialed in and he's faced a lot of work here early."
Anaheim finished off Monday's shutout without defenseman Josh Manson, who was not available for the final two periods because of an upper-body injury following a fight with Minnesota's Jordan Greenway. He is not expected to play Wednesday.
"You don't return for a game, you're usually out for the next one," Eakins said.
Ducks defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Kevin Shattenkirk each were forced into 29 minutes of action to cover for Manson's absence. Shattenkirk provided an assist on a centering pass for Deslauriers' goal.
--Field Level Media