ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Anaheim Ducks forward Mathieu Perreault was dead tired and desperately in need of the final horn when suddenly the game was on his stick.
The 25-year old forward, traded to the Ducks from the Washington Capitals five days earlier, took advantage of his second Grade-A scoring chance in the final minute by scoring his first goal with his new team. He scored with 4.9 seconds left in overtime to give Anaheim a 4-3 win against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night.
Perreault's crazy shift nearly ended 20 seconds earlier in almost the exact same spot it eventually did. But Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom was aggressive coming out of his net and stoned him with a great pad save.
The puck caromed off his pad to the stick of Minnesota's Kyle Brodziak; after Perreault fell down, Brodziak and Jason Pominville went on a 2-on-1 the other way, where Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller made a great pad save of his own.
Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler then gathered in the puck and dished to Francois Beauchemin, who along with Perreault, were outnumbered entering the Wild zone. But after a Wild defenseman lost an edge, Perreault was free to crash the net, where Beauchemin found him with a pass.
Perreault slipped the puck through Backstrom's five-hole for the winner.
"The first one [Backstrom] came out hard at me and I didn't expect it," Perreault said. "So when I got that second one, I knew I wasn't going to shoot it, I was going to make a little move and slide it five-hole."
With a big assist from the quick right leg of Hiller, Anaheim evened its record at 1-1-0.
"You see them going 2-on-1 and you're like 'Oh man, they're maybe gonna score and you just missed a great opportunity to score for your team,' Perreault said. "Then all of the sudden, it comes right back. I wasn't going to miss twice."
"I don't want to see it, but it sure is good for hockey," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said of the game's final minute. "They could show that last minute in the highlights all day long and I think people would go 'Wow, I gotta see that sport,' because the average fan is not looking at how many mistakes there were in the last minute."
Perreault also had the primary assist on Jakob Silfverberg's goal 1:19 into the second period; he found Silfverberg in front of Backstrom with a nice feed from behind the net.
"Those are the things I've seen him do in Washington," said Boudreau, who coached Perreault for parts of three seasons with the Capitals. "He's like a little jitterbug. He can move, he's shifty. Plays find him. That's why he's a valuable player."
Coming off an embarrassing 6-1 loss at Colorado in their season opener Wednesday night, the Ducks came out firing early in the game, getting goals from Saku Koivu and Nick Bonino in the first 5:43.
"Any headline you read was about how bad we were," Boudreau said. "The pride took over a little bit. It kept us in the game. It was a big factor of why we were there at the end.
"This is a team that was third overall [in the standings] last year and they didn't like getting criticized and ridiculed for what had happened last game."
Wild coach Mike Yeo said he expected an "ornery" team Saturday night following his team's morning skate earlier in the day. That's exactly what they got.
"We talked about a number of things tactically before the game, we talked about X's and O's and whatnot, but two words that were underlined were preparation and determination," Yeo said. "I think judging by the first period, the way we started the game, we didn't have enough of either of those."
Silfverberg's goal in the second made it 3-1 and it looked like Anaheim was prepared to coast to victory.
But the Wild dominated the rest of the second period, outshooting the Ducks 17-8 and narrowing the lead to 3-2 on a power-play goal by Pominville at 8:28.
Minnesota tied the game 1:15 into the third period on Zach Parise's second goal of the night. Both teams had man-advantage chances down the stretch but neither could find the net again until Perrault's winner late in overtime.
Minnesota outshot Anaheim 33-30 for the game with Hiller making 30 saves for the Ducks. The Wild's first line of Parise, Pominville and Mikko Koivu figured into all three Wild goals.
"We should have had more. We had some chances that we needed to get a couple more," Parise said. "We expect ourselves to do that and we have to do that."
Minnesota has points in each of its first two games, but has yet to win. The Wild lost a shootout to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. The Ducks have split their first two games, both on the road, and conclude a three-game trip Sunday night against the Winnipeg Jets. Teemu Selanne, who sat out Saturday, is scheduled to play against his former team.
Perhaps more concerning for the Wild is the injury of center Charlie Coyle, who left the game midway through the second period with a lower-body injury after a collision with Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano.
After disappearing down the tunnel for several minutes, Coyle returned to the bench shortly before heading back to the locker room. He did not return to the game and his status for Minnesota's next game Tuesday night at the Nashville Predators is in doubt.
"I don't think it's gravely serious, but I'd also think it'd be a stretch to see him in the lineup for the next game," Yeo said.
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