ANAHEIM, Calif. – One team was crisper, faster and stronger on the puck.
And it wasn’t the squad that was rested.
As has been the trend this season, the Wild had plenty left in the tank to crank out a solid effort in its second game in as many nights – this time shrugging off the Ducks 5-1 Friday in front of 16,464 at Honda Center to pocket its ninth win in its last 11 tries and improve to 4-0 in the second half of back-to-backs.
Goalie Alex Stalock was triumphant for the third time as the closer in the two-game, two-day set, making 20 saves, and wingers Jason Zucker and Mikael Granlund each racked up three points – with Granlund scoring twice.
Defensemen Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon also had two-point showings.
The Wild was ready to go from puck drop and opened the scoring for just the fifth time this season.
Only 1 minute, 48 seconds into the first period, rookie Jordan Greenway eluded a poke check by Anaheim goalie John Gibson and banked the puck off the toe of Gibson’s skate – which was in the net.
There was confusion, initially, about whether the puck completely crossed the goal line, but video reviewed showed that it did.
It was Greenway’s second career goal.
A double-minor, high-sticking penalty to Ducks winger Patrick Eaves later in the period didn’t result in any goals for the Wild, but the team dominated possession – hemming the Ducks in their zone for almost the first two minutes of the advantage. Overall, the Wild went 0-for-4 on the power play.
Still, that opportunity helped the Wild pad its shots edge and when the first expired, the team was outshooting the Ducks 19-5. Those 19 shots were the most for a first period this season for the Wild and the second-most for any period.
Staying in character, the Wild only got better the more it played – with the team adding two more goals in the second courtesy the Zucker-Granlund combination.
Zucker was the first to deliver, at 3:19, when he one-timed a behind-the-net feed from Granlund. That snapped a seven-game goalless skid for Zucker, his second goal in his last 12 games.
And just 3:58 after that, the two connected again – just by switching roles, with Zucker setting up Granlund from behind the net for a tap-in in front.
Despite testing Stalock infrequently, the Ducks were able to solve him at 16:53 of the second on the power play on a Pontus Aberg top-shelf shot in tight for Anaheim’s lone tally with the man advantage in two chances.
The Ducks had more push to end the second, but they still boasted just 14 shots when the period ended compared to 33 for the Wild.
Anaheim still had some jump to start the third, but Brodin reinstated the Wild’s three-goal cushion with a blistering shot during a poor Ducks line change at 10:06.
And with 3:57 to go, Granlund scored his second – another one-timer from Zucker.
Gibson had 38 stops for the Ducks.
Not only did the result cap off a 2-1 swing through California after the Wild edged the Kings 3-1 Thursday following a 4-3 loss to the Sharks Tuesday, but it also ensured the team’s record on this franchise-record seven straight road games will be a winning one.
The Wild will embark on the finale Sunday against the Blues in St. Louis at 4-2.