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Ducks' Palmieri celebrates birthday with two goals, win over Wild

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- His work for the night done, the celebration about to begin, Kyle Palmieri could not remember a single meaningful birthday present.

He scanned and scanned the deepest recesses of his brain, all for naught. Xbox? Nope. New car? Sorry. Plasma television? Nah. Nothing was bigger than the two gifts he received Friday night.

Palmieri celebrated his 22nd birthday in style with two goals as the Anaheim Ducks seized the game in the third period to take a 3-1 win over the visiting Minnesota Wild on Friday night at the Honda Center.

Palmieri tied the game midway through the second period then won the game at the 4:21 mark of the third period after delivering a wrist shot past Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom off a precision pass from Teemu Selanne, who assisted on all three Anaheim goals. Selanne swung behind the Minnesota goal as Palmieri approached the net on the left side, then found Palmieri's sweet spot for his third goal of the season.

"It's incredible playing with him and Bobby (Ryan) -- they're both tremendous playmakers," Palmieri said. "Teemu has been known for his goal-scoring but at the same time, he has that vision, that knack for finding the open guys. Our entire line tonight, we clicked and we found each other in the offensive zone."

Added Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, who tinkered with the Ducks lineup and put Palmieri on the line with Selanne and Ryan: "The one thing about Palmieri is he can shoot; he has a nose for the net. It worked good tonight. Who knows what we do tomorrow, but for one night, it succeeded."

Minnesota got on the board first with Marco Scandella's first goal of the season off an assist from center Matt Cullen midway through the first period. Scandella smoked a wrist shot through the five hole of Anaheim goalie Viktor Fasth at the 9:54 mark, but Fasth recovered quickly and held the Wild scoreless for the duration to win his second straight start since being called up in late-January. Fasth, who finished with 26 saves, became the first goalie in Ducks history to win his first two NHL starts.

"To me, he was fighting the puck a little bit," Boudreau said. "You could tell from the long shots, there were rebounds in front of the net. But when it counted, when we had a 2-1 lead, he made a big save in the third. That's what good goalies do. They make the good saves at the right time."

Anaheim tied the game at the 6:49 mark of the second period on a goal by Palmieri, assisted by Ryan and Selanne. After Ryan got tangled up on a 3-2 charge the puck caromed to Palmieri, Palmieri dropped to a knee and slid toward the goal, gliding the puck past Backstrom for his second goal of the year.

Later in the third period, Selanne tried to sneak the puck past Backstrom on a power play, but Backstrom rang up one of his 28 saves before Ryan snagged the rebound and put it in for the goal at the 18:26 mark.

"I don't care who we're playing against, we have to execute," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. "We had one guy doing it and the next guy was not. That's not going to work. We didn't have everybody."

NOTES: With his three assists, Selanne tied Doug Gilmour for 17th on the all-time points list. ... Anaheim is in the midst of its second set of back-to-back home games this year. The Ducks have 10 such stretches in the lockout-shortened season, after having just 12 in team history prior to the season. ... Minnesota's Scandella was recalled from the Houston Aeros (AHL) on Dec. 27 as defenseman Mathew Dumba was reassigned to Red Deer (WHL). ... The Ducks' 4-1-1 record is their best start since 2006-07. ... The teams split last year's season series, 2-2, as the road team won every game. ... Anaheim's Corey Perry and Selanne both lead the Ducks with 27 career points against the Wild. ... Minnesota played its first game at Anaheim on Oct. 6, 2000, and lost 3-1. ... The game marked the 14th career game between brothers Saku (Anaheim) and Mikko (Minnesota) Koivu.
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