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Ducks edge Wild, off to franchise best start

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM -- Not that one of the best teams in the NHL needed a wake-up call to begin with, but it's safe to say the Anaheim Ducks didn't take too well to their beat down at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings to start the week.

Because since then the Ducks have been on another tear.

And that was bad news for the Minnesota Wild, who couldn't overcome the Ducks furious start in a 3-2 Anaheim victory in front of an announced crowd of 15,264 at The Honda Center.

The Wild made it interesting in the third period after falling behind 3-0, getting two goals to make it a one-goal game, and had a chance to tie it up when the Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin was called for tripping with 3:17 remaining to put the Wild on the power play.

That man advantage grew to two when Minnesota pulled its goalie, but the Ducks killed off the power play off then survived a frantic final minute to close out the victory.

In the process, the Ducks eclipsed their 2006-07 team for the best start in franchise history at 15-3-1 and 31 points.

"We did?" Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf asked, facetiously.

They did.

"No, it's good," Getzlaf continued. "We felt pretty good coming into this season -- obviously nobody expected us to do what we did -- but guys are doing the right thing and on night's like tonight when we probably didn't have our best thing all night we got the goaltending to win."

Maybe the Kings' Monday victory was a catalyst, maybe not. Anaheim was playing extremely well before the loss, so it's not like a rock-bottom moment was needed.

But considering how the Ducks hammered the Nashville Predators 5-1 Wednesday, then beat the Wild 48 hours later, the loss to the Ducks' Southern California rivals got their attention.

It also helped the Ducks have been sensational at home, winning eight straight and eight out of nine.

"I think obviously you go out every year trying to win every single game," said left-winger Matt Beleskey. "We've got a team in which everyone's contributing and guys are coming together and we're showing that."

That didn't change Friday as Anaheim struck first when Getzlaf skated free the length of the ice, gathered in a pass from Corey Perry in front of the Minnesota net and fired a shot past Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper to put the Ducks up 1-0 4:45 into the game. It was Getzlaf's seventh goal and a team-leading 22nd point.

The Ducks were just getting started, as Teemu Selanne scored on an assist from Luca Sbisa with 8:59 remaining in the period to out the Wild in a 2-0 hole.

"I didn't think our first period was very good," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. "We have to start better against good teams, that's one thing. We were sort of in between on some plays and not as aggressive or assertive as we needed to be."

The Ducks added another goal in the second period when Matt Beleskey found the net on assists by Daniel Winnik and Andrew Cogliano to make it 3-0.

Minnesota scored 29 seconds into the third period when Kyle Brodziak beat Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, who was screened out in front of the net, to make it 3-1.

Devin Setoguchi made it 3-2 9:23 into the third on assists from Mike Rupp and Ryan Suter.

"And we had chances to get the third one," Yeo said.

But on a night when the Ducks registered their best start in franchise history, it wasn't enough.

Not that they are getting carried away with the accomplishment.

"I think as players we're not really looking at that," Beleskey said. "The season's too short. You lose five games in a row and guys are right behind you. We're just taking one night at a time and trying to win as many games as possible."

NOTES: The Ducks have won an NHL-best eight straight at Honda Center and at 8-1-0 the Ducks are off to their best home start in franchise history. ... The Ducks finished February with an 11-2-0 record to match the franchise record for most wins in a single month. ... The Wild like to keep things close, as 13 of their first 20 games have been decided by one goal, including eight of the last 10. ... The Wild wrapped up the fourth of nine sets of back-to-back games this season, and while they were 4-0 in the first leg and 0-4 in the second leg.
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