After four games with only one goal to show offensively, it was only appropriate that number four opened the scoring.
Cam Fowler's goal midway through the first period energized the crowd and his team as the Anaheim Ducks earned their first win of the season with a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild Sunday night at Honda Center.
After suffering through the worst four-game offensive stretch in franchise history, the Ducks scored twice in the first period and never trailed after Rickard Rakell redirected Hampus Lindholm's point shot with a tick under four minutes to play in the period.
Facing a Wild team playing their third game in four nights, Anaheim was able to take control of play after the first five minutes. Carl Hagelin, on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry again after spending previous games in a lower six role, controlled the puck behind the net and worked it to Getzlaf. The Ducks captain went low-to-high and found Fowler at the right point, who unleashed a slap shot that found its way through traffic in front from Perry and Hagelin through Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk for a 1-0 lead at the 10:08 mark.
Just 2:47 later Minnesota equalized, as Anaheim was caught focused on the puck on a delayed offside. With the skaters postured up, Nino Niederreiter slipped behind Lindholm at the Ducks blue line on the left sideboard and Mikko Koivu hit him with a surgical stretch pass to spring a breakaway. Niederreiter beat Anton Khudobin along the ice to momentarily sap the crowd and level the game 1-1.
Still, the Ducks kept their solid start up, surviving a couple nice cross slot plays in the offensive zone from Minnesota with saves from Khudobin. In the middle of a line change Anaheim worked a cycle, Perry shifting the puck to Lindholm at the right point. The third-year Swede's slapshot was deflected home by Rakell, with Perry in the area as well, putting the Ducks back in front with 3:59 left in the first. Anaheim took a 2-1 lead to the locker room.
Khudobin was critical in the later periods, making 29 of his 34 saves for the game in the final 40 minutes. Minnesota was snake bit as well, hitting the post twice, but the 29-year old Kazakh goalkeeper battled through traffic and multiple crashes of his crease to keep everything out for the remainder of the game.
Anaheim got some necessary insurance in the third period with the fourth line doing work in the offensive zone. Patrick Maroon delivered a beautiful backhand pass from below the goal line to Shawn Horcoff in the slot, whose first shot was stopped by Dubnyk. Mike Santorelli crashed the net from the right circle, batting the rebound between the wickets to up the Ducks edge to 3-1 at the 8:58 mark. Lindholm sealed the deal with a backhanded empty-net goal from his own defensive zone with 1:09 to play.
After carrying play for two of the three previous losses at Honda Center, the Ducks were outshot by Minnesota 35-22 and out-attempted 63-42 at even strength. After allowing Niederreiter to sneak behind him for the Minnesota goal, Lindholm made several brilliant defensive plays, including blocking a shot after Khudobin turned the puck over behind the net and left a yawning cage. The Anaheim defense blocked 20 shots for the night.
With the win the Ducks are 1-3-1 as they begin a five game in eight night stretch against Central Division competition. It opens against the Nashville Predators on Thursday, October 22 at Bridgestone Arena at 5 PM.