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Ducks are flat in loss to Minnesota

Wild draws closer in Western Conference playoff race.

February 05, 2009|Associated Press

ST. PAUL, MINN — . -- With the Ducks in the middle of a tight Western Conference playoff race, Coach Randy Carlyle didn't like what he saw Wednesday night in the team's 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

"It's only going to get tighter, and these two points were too important for us to pass up," he said. "It's just disturbing from the standpoint of how little we were into the game."

Andrew Brunette and Mikko Koivu scored over the first two periods, and All-Star Niklas Backstrom made them stand up with his sixth shutout of the season to lead the Wild.

"Our execution was really, I would say, off," Carlyle said. "We just couldn't seem to do anything with the puck, and we got frustrated. I didn't think we really got involved in the game until the third period. . . . We can't afford a performance like we had tonight, in this situation."

The Wild picked up an important two points, without letting the Ducks take one, in the Western Conference race. The Ducks are in fifth place with 57 points, and Minnesota moved into a sixth-place tie with Dallas with 55 points.

But four other teams have 53 points or more, setting up a scrappy final two months for those last spots in the postseason.

The Ducks were blanked for the third time this season and the first time in 20 games -- including playoffs -- in St. Paul. Second-leading scorer Corey Perry, who had three goals in Anaheim's first two victories over the Wild this season, had only two shots in the first two periods.

"It's too bad we can't start like we play in the third," Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller said. "We're always down one goal after the second period and we try to make it up in the third, but in this league that's not easy. We should probably think about having a better start."

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