ST. PAUL, Minnesota — The Anaheim Ducks moved back into the NHL lead with the kind of gritty game they have been missing lately.
Jakob Silfverberg had the go-ahead goal and an assist, and John Gibson stopped 32 shots, helping the Ducks end a three-game losing streak with a confidence-building 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.
Francois Beauchemin scored first for the Ducks, who improved to 27-1-7 in one-goal games this season, including three such wins against the Wild.
"Blocking shots. That's how you've got to win games, now at the end and in the playoffs. Winning the board battles. The one-on-one battles. Make sure you come out with the puck," Beauchemin said. "Things like that. Those are details we need to do if we want to be a championship team."
Zach Parise had a power-play goal for the Wild, who had a late flurry over the final 96 seconds after goalie Devan Dubnyk was pulled. But Gibson made four saves during that stretch, giving a big lift to the Ducks after allowing six goals two nights earlier.
"Just trying to do whatever I can to keep the puck out of the net," Gibson said.
The 21-year-old Gibson surrendered some long rebounds but was otherwise sharp on those critical loose pucks.
"We had a lot of looks there at the end, bouncing off bodies and going just wide," Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said. "That's a good team."
Gibson started back-to-back games for the first time this month.
"It's a huge game mentally for him," said coach Bruce Boudreau, noting the noise in the arena and the confidence the surging Wild have been playing with.
The Wild outshot the Ducks 16-7 in the first period, but they misfired on many prime opportunities, including Chris Stewart's chip shot that sailed wide during a power play. Nine seconds after that man-advantage expired, the Ducks scored when a slick drop pass by Silfverberg set up Beauchemin for the slap shot with 47 seconds left.
The Wild pulled even on the power-play goal by Parise, off a feed from Thomas Vanek. The real assist came from Dubnyk, who drew a roughing penalty on Corey Perry for a rather mild collision behind the net. Dubnyk's body jerked backward after the contact, and the whistle blew.
The Ducks went back in front a few minutes later during 4-on-4 play, when Wild defenseman Matt Dumba's giveaway in the slot went straight to Simon Despres. His shot was tipped in by Silfverberg, between Dubnyk's pads.
"Just bad play by me. I got a little caught in the headlights there," Dumba said.
The Ducks started the day in a six-way tie in the Presidents' Trophy race for the best regular-season record, including with Central Division co-leaders St. Louis and Nashville for the top spot in the Western Conference. They are well in control of the Pacific Division, but their performance since the All-Star break has been up and down.
Boudreau was especially disappointed by their soft performance in the 6-3 loss at Calgary on Wednesday.
Left wing Matt Beleskey gave them a boost with his return from an upper-body injury that kept his 21 goals out of the previous 12 games. He joined Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on the first line, making Patrick Maroon a healthy scratch for the first time this season.
The Wild began an arduous stretch of the schedule, a final 15 games featuring 13 against teams currently in line for the playoffs. One of the two opponents off the cut is Winnipeg, and the Jets are only three points behind the wild-card leading Wild.
Dubnyk started his 26th straight game since his acquisition in that season-saving trade. The Wild fell to 19-5-2 since he arrived in mid-January.
Coming off a 6-2 win over New Jersey, when they played a penalty-free game and 14 players had either an assist or a goal against the Devils, the Wild struggled to put their many opportunities to use in this one. The Wild fell to 3 for 33 on the power play over their last 14 games.
"There were certainly moments in that game, whether it's on one side or the other, that we could've grabbed a hold of," Wild coach Mike Yeo said.
NOTES: After winning five straight home games against the Ducks through Feb. 18, 2011, the Wild have lost six in a row in St. Paul to the Ducks, all by one goal. ... Stewart and Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner, who spent the previous four-plus seasons with the Wild, dropped the gloves for a fight just 10 seconds into the game.
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