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Wild defeats Ducks in overtime

PHOTOS () —

By Michael Russo

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

(MCT)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — If the Minnesota Wild makes the playoffs, games like Friday night’s will be the reason why.

Short key cogs in the lineup. Several others playing banged up. Exhausted from having played the night before.

Yet, behind a sensational goaltending performance from Jose Theodore, the Wild beat the Anaheim Ducks, 3-2, in overtime at the Honda Center and remained in sixth place in the Western Conference.

A loss would have dropped Minnesota to 10th.

Moments after Dan Ellis stopped Cal Clutterbuck on a breakaway, Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored his second career overtime goal with 6.3 seconds left. Bouchard, backing up behind the blue line, caught Brent Burns’ backhanded headman pass and skated in alone.

“Butch going in, everybody stood up on the bench expecting the result, and that’s the result we got,” coach Todd Richards said.

Bouchard simply enjoyed it.

“That was a fun one, just a huge win for us,” he said. “We showed a lot of character.”

Theodore made 46 saves in helping the Wild win its 17th road game, two short of the team record.

“Theo was right on top of his game, and thank God,” the Wild’s John Madden said.

It was 1-1 when Ellis, making his Ducks debut one day after being traded from Tampa Bay, gave up a 50-foot, unscreened goal to defenseman Clayton Stoner with 4 minutes, 57 seconds left.

Stoner’s goal came moments after Theodore made a left toe save, sliding across the crease to rob Dan Sexton.

But the Wild gave the lead back with two minutes left on Francois Beauchemin’s tying goal on a Jason Blake rebound. Madden also scored for the Wild.

The Wild, after a hard-nosed battle 24 hours earlier up the freeway, entered the game battered and bruised. That was clear at the morning skate when the team showed for a meeting, then basically emptied the trainer’s room of ice bags and ace bandages.

But Richards said the mood was “refreshingly good” after such a tough loss to Los Angeles in which the effort was unbridled.

Still, it was clear the banged-up team would have to overcome a lot in the clash ahead that night against Anaheim, another team it’s dueling with for a playoff spot. To make matters worse, the team already playing without Mikko Koivu and Kyle Brodziak, had to call up Warren Peters from the farm to play in place of banged-up Cody Almond.

So in a huge game, the thin got thinner.

The Wild drew two quick power plays to open the game, but had nothing cooking. The first, Theodore had to stop a 2-on-1 chance by Jarkko Ruutu, then Corey Perry single-handedly chewed up the rest. The second, the Wild barely got into the zone long enough to set up.

But later in the period, the Ducks’ top line of Perry, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf seemed to tire themselves out by pinning Minnesota deep for a long shift. Antti Miettinen got the puck, and he sprung Madden and Andrew Brunette.

Brunette dropped a pass in the neutral zone for Madden, and the two oldest players on the roster were off for on a 2-on-1. Madden opted to shoot, and maybe Ellis was mesmerized by the pure speed coming at him. Madden breezed his ninth goal over Ellis’ glove.

It was a nice moment for Madden, who dejectedly took responsibility for Drew Doughty’s winning goal the night before.

The Ducks would score the equalizer in the second on Bobby Ryan’s 29th goal. It came just as the Wild impressively killed off a Brent Burns’ minor with solid saves by Theodore and gutty plays by Miettinen and Chuck Kobasew.

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(c) 2011, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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PHOTOS (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099):

WILD

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