ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Nick Ritchie isn’t one of the first players called upon for the Anaheim Ducks in a shootout.
He wasn’t among the first 10 shooters Saturday.
Yet, Ritchie scored in the 11th round of the shootout and John Gibson stopped the final seven shooters in the Ducks’ 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
”It seems like once it gets over five or six (rounds) it can go over 15 sometimes, so there was a good chance I was going to get a shot there and I capitalized on it,” said Ritchie, whose quick shot split the pads of Devan Dubnyk. Ritchie missed his other shootout attempt this season.
Prior to the goal, the teams combined for 13 straight misses.
”Anytime you win a shootout that goes that long, you feel fortunate you get the extra point. Some big stops from our goaltender, and we found a guy who scored the big goal. We’ll take it,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said.
They’ll also gladly take the extra point that lifted the Ducks into a tie with the Wild for the second wild-card slot in the Western Conference. Anaheim also jumped Calgary for third in the Pacific Division, although the Flames play Saturday night.
”It’s teams battling for playoffs. You’re battling for your lives right now,” said Corey Perry, who scored in regulation along with Ondrej Kase. ”There’s only 23, 24 games, whatever it is, left and you need every point you can get.”
Ryan Getzlaf and Kase also scored for Anaheim in the shootout. Gibson made 36 saves for the Ducks, 4-1-1 in their past six.
”It’s going to come down to the wire. That point could end up being huge for us later on, you never know,” Ritchie said.
Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker scored in regulation for Minnesota, Nino Niederreiter and Zach Parise connected in in the shootout, and Dubnyk made 28 saves.
Minnesota ended a five-game homestand 2-1-2 and is 20-5-6 at Xcel Energy Center, including points in 14 of its last 15. However, Minnesota is 11-15-1 away from home. The Wild will play 14 of their final 24 games on the road, including the next three games in and near New York City.
”We had some good games and some areas where we definitely need to get better but overall we definitely had a solid homestand. Now it’s on the road and we have to make sure we get better and better every game,” Niederreiter said. ”We’re definitely on the right track. Even today, the guys played very good and at the end of the day, we lost in a shootout so sometimes you have that luck on your side. Sometimes you don’t.”
Anaheim won for the third time in 22 games when trailing after two periods. Kase tied it at 2 at 6:12 of the third, stopping a point shot from Hampus Lindholm, shifting the puck to his forehand and tucking it past Dubnyk. Kase has five goals in seven games.
Perry and Koivu scored in the first, and Zucker gave the Wild a 2-1 lead with his career-high 23rd goal midway through the second, tipping in a shot from Nate Prosser. Initially waved off for being touched by a high stick, it was deemed a good goal after the four officials conferred near the penalty box.
NOTES: Eleven rounds is the longest shootout in Minnesota history. Anaheim went 14 rounds in a Nov. 22, 2016, home loss to the Islanders. … Anaheim C Ryan Kesler missed the game with a lower-body injury. Considered day-to-day, he’d played 22 straight games since returning Dec. 27 from offseason hip surgery. … Minnesota scratched LW Tyler Ennis for the first time in 10 games – and third time this season. He was replaced by RW Chris Stewart, a healthy scratch for the past five games.
Ducks: At Vegas on Monday night.
Wild: At New York Islanders on Monday.
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