Bertuzzi scored twice, Ryan Getzlaf had three assists, and Anaheim’s streaking top line lifted the Ducks to a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday.
“I’m having a blast,” Bertuzzi said. “I think it’s kind of like being 33 and playing 23, when you’re playing with those two. They keep you young. Not only on the ice, but in the room.”
Corey Perry got his 26th goal, and the Ducks won their season-high seventh straight game after surviving a second-period surge by the Wild. Since luring defenseman Scott Niedermayer out of semiretirement and trading for veteran center Doug Weight, Anaheim is 12-2-2.
Bertuzzi had a slow start this season, and he missed 14 games to a concussion. He recently switched wing spots with Perry, though, and lately the line has been unstoppable. This was Bertuzzi’s first multigoal game since a hat trick more than two years ago.
Getzlaf has at least one point in a career-high 13 straight games. Perry, whom Getzlaf argued should have joined him on the All-Star team, and Bertuzzi each have a point in six consecutive games.
“Any time you have three big-bodied, skilled people that have been able to provide some form of offense, historically, it’s an easy match trying to find the right mix,” coach Randy Carlyle said.
The Wild just couldn’t keep up. They had to keep sending checkers out to slow the trio, and their offense suffered as a result.
“They can all do everything, and that’s what makes them so dangerous,” said defenseman Chris Pronger, who also scored for the Ducks. They led 3-0 until Minnesota’s Nick Schultz and Mikko Koivu scored 14 seconds apart in the second period.
But the deficit was too big against the defending champions. Bertuzzi worked his way in the slot and, on an assist from Perry, scored midway through the third.
“We just came out flat,” the Wild’s Mark Parrish said. He added: “I don’t know whether it’s nerves, or we’re too loose, or what it is.”
This was the first meeting in Minnesota between these teams since their bruising first-round playoff series last spring, when Anaheim started the march to the Stanley Cup. The Wild conveniently activated tough guy Derek Boogaard before the game, after missing him for a month while he dealt with a bad back.
Boogaard was in the middle of a multiplayer scrum near the end of the second period, but this was generally a wide-open game with plenty of scoring chances and graceful sequences rather than the rough stuff often produced by a Ducks-Wild matchup. Fans saw a video montage of fights, goals and more fights from last year’s playoffs just before faceoff, but Anaheim had only one penalty in the first 40 minutes.
Bertuzzi scored barely four minutes in, when he swooped in on a three-on-one pass from Getzlaf and knocked the puck in while he kneed Josh Harding in the head and knocked the goalie’s helmet off.
Bertuzzi’s drop pass set up Perry’s successful slap shot in the second period, and the flustered Wild gave up a five-on-three goal to Pronger minutes later. Marian Gaborik was mad about an offside call that squelched a short-handed breakaway for him and Pavol Demitra, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said Johnsson was not offside, but Gaborik was.
“He’s got no reason to get at the linesman like that, no reason at all,” Lemaire said.
The Wild were able to regain their composure.
Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, giving Jean-Sebastien Giguere a break after a game the previous night in Nashville, had a shaky shutout going. Schultz knocked in a cross-crease pass from Gaborik, and 14 seconds later Koivu wound up from just inside the blue line. Suddenly, it was a one-goal game, and Carlyle was calling a timeout.
With one minute left in the middle frame, though, Brian Rolston’s slap shot clanked off the upper-left corner of the pipe and sailed away. The momentum ended with the second intermission.
Lemaire lamented that a good game by his “workers” was wasted, because the skill players were off.
“They’re trying certain things, and when it doesn’t work they get frustrated and they’re trying to change instead of just going on and trying to play a little harder.”
Easy to say, Lemaire said, but difficult to do.
Koivu, who missed two months because of a broken leg, scored for the first time since Nov. 13. … Pronger, also an All-Star, has not missed a game this season. Carlyle said it was Pronger’s decision to play after blocking a shot with his knee and leaving the night before. That game started a stretch where the Ducks will play 12 out of 13 games on the road.