ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Marcus Foligno admitted that the Minnesota Wild’s 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night wasn’t picture perfect, but for a team that is still working its way back after having its season paused due to COVID-19 protocols, any win will do.
“It was not pretty or our best game, but we know we are going to get better,” said Foligno, who scored late in the third period. “It is important to break the ice with a win after two weeks of not doing anything.”
Ryan Hartman and Kevin Fiala scored 38 seconds apart in the first period, and Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 16 shots for the Wild, who snapped a two-game losing streak.
Minnesota lost 4-0 to Los Angeles on Tuesday, which was its first game since Feb. 2, but still didn’t have many of its regulars. On Thursday, forwards Nick Bonino and Nico Sturm, along with defensemen Ian Cole and Jared Spurgeon were back in the lineup.
“We tried to stay pretty simple at the start by keeping the shifts short, and trying to read off each other. After the first period though, everything slowed down,” Spurgeon said.
Sam Steel scored for Anaheim, which has dropped three of its last four. John Gibson made 24 saves.
“I think we came out with a pretty fierce start. … I think we just beat ourselves up too much,” defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “We have to get our mindsets back into what we’re doing well.”
The Ducks have not been shut out, but have scored only one goal in eight of their 17 games. They are averaging a league-low 1.88 goals.
“We’re trying to find new ways and even old ways to score. We will continue on. There’s no use feeling sorry for ourselves,” Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said.
Hartman forced Anaheim’s Jacob Larsson into a turnover near the blue line in the Anaheim zone, skated into the left circle and buried a wrist shot past Gibson at 7:27 for his second of the season.
Fiala then scored his fourth goal in the last six games, putting in the rebound of a loose puck in front of the net at 8:05.
Steel got Anaheim within 2-1 , scoring in his second straight game. Steel took a pass from Danton Heinen inside the slot and then sent a backhander past Kahkonen’s glove side and into the upper right corner of the goal with eight minutes remaining in the second period.
Foligno put Minnesota back up by two goals with 3:45 remaining in the game on a one-timer after a centering pass by Zach Parise for his second of the season.
“It is hard to not take two points and be happy with it, but it was a grind. We have to do some things to make a game like that easier on us,” Wild coach Dean Evason said.
Four of Hartman’s 11 goals since joining the Wild last season have been first goals of the game.
Anaheim didn’t register a shot on goal until there was 3:36 remaining in the first period and had only 16 in the game. The Ducks couldn’t manage any despite having a five-on-three advantage for 1:06 in the first.
“Too slow and no execution. It’s amazing, we spent the morning and before the game talking about power plays and then we froze,” Eakins said.
Anaheim defenseman Hampus Lindholm suffered a lower-body injury and did not play during the third period.
Minnesota’s Jonas Brodin, Victor Rask, Carson Soucy and Cam Talbot were removed from the COVID-19 list earlier in the day. Goalie Andrew Hammond was added, becoming the 15th Wild player to appear on the list.
The teams meet again on Saturday.
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