ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon scored early in the second period, and the Minnesota Wild beat the Ducks 2-1 Sunday night in coach Bruce Boudreau’s triumphant return to Anaheim.
Boudreau was fired by the Ducks after their first-round playoff exit last spring despite leading Anaheim to the past four consecutive Pacific Division titles and Game 7 of the 2015 Western Conference finals. The veteran coach has turned his new team into an early-season Stanley Cup contender with 14 wins in its last 16 games.
Devan Dubnyk made 23 saves for the Wild, who won twice on their three-game California road trip.
Ryan Kesler scored and John Gibson stopped 34 shots for the Ducks, whose three-game winning streak ended. Anaheim played without captain Ryan Getzlaf, who missed his third straight game.
The Ducks made no public acknowledgement of Boudreau’s return to Honda Center, where he replaced the fired Randy Carlyle and immediately injected life into a middling franchise early in the 2011-12 season. He went 208-104-40 with the Ducks, hanging four division banners in the rafters and falling one agonizing game short of the Stanley Cup Final in 2015.
But after last season ended with a seven-game loss to Nashville in the first round, general manager Bob Murray abruptly fired Boudreau. The Ducks won just three combined rounds in four postseason trips under Boudreau, losing a Game 7 on home ice in four straight years, and Murray chose to get rid of the coach instead of breaking up his roster core.
The Wild eagerly hired Boudreau, who has won eight division titles in his nine seasons behind an NHL bench. He has immediately turned Minnesota into an early-season Stanley Cup contender, getting the Wild (25-9-5) off to the best first half of a season in franchise history.
After a long search for Boudreau’s replacement, Murray decided to re-hire Carlyle, the winningest coach in franchise history and the leader of their 2007 Stanley Cup champions — even though Carlyle won only one playoff round in his final four seasons before Murray fired him the first time.
Carlyle kept Boudreau’s two assistants, and Anaheim has kept its spot in the Pacific race, while the Wild have taken off with Boudreau. The Ducks hadn’t lost at home in regulation in eight games since Nov. 25.
Anaheim took the lead in the first period when Jakob Silfverberg stole the puck deep in Minnesota’s end and Kesler scored on the rebound. Their line has been dominant in recent weeks, and Kesler’s goal was the 25th of his career against the Wild in just 57 games.
But Minnesota scored twice in 1:42 after consecutive Ducks penalties early in the second. Dumba connected with a two-man advantage, and Jason Pominville’s shot skipped off Spurgeon and past Gibson to put the Wild ahead.
NOTES: Getzlaf has a lower-body injury. He has returned to skating, but hasn’t practiced with the team. … An apparent Minnesota goal was disallowed early in the third period because Nino Niederreiter kicked the puck into the net. … Minnesota RW Kurtis Gabriel was scratched and Jordan Schroeder returned to the lineup.
Wild: Host Montreal on Thursday night.
Ducks: Host Dallas on Tuesday night.