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Hiller gets fourth shutout of season as Wild lose ironman Brunette to knee injury

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Anaheim Ducks got a power-play goal, then a break from the referee. Jonas Hiller stood strong the whole time, just one of countless contributors who helped fuel an important win.

Corey Perry had two goals, Hiller posted his fourth shutout this season and the Ducks beat the Minnesota Wild 3-0 on Saturday night, bouncing back from four losses in their previous five games.

"We had much more of a workmanlike attitude from our group," coach Randy Carlyle said, "and we played for another: like a team."

Hiller made 30 saves and rookie Bobby Ryan also scored in Anaheim's third win in the last 11 road games. The Ducks, who lost 3-1 the day before in Pittsburgh, play three more times on this trip against both New York teams and then Phoenix before returning home.

"We let one go last night in Pittsburgh," Ryan said. "We felt we needed to come out and get one tonight."

The Wild lost stalwart forward Andrew Brunette to an apparent right knee injury halfway through the game, putting his streak of 497 consecutive games played -- currently the longest in the NHL -- in serious jeopardy.

"I don't know the outcome of it there, but he didn't look good," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "Didn't look good at all."

Owen Nolan's goal later in the second was waved off by a premature whistle, preserving Anaheim's 1-0 lead and angering the Minnesota bench. Lemaire and goalie Niklas Backstrom, who made 31 saves, were still steamed about the call afterward. It's happened to the Wild several times this season, actually.

"I think it's a big joke out there. It can't happen like every night," the normally placid Backstrom said. He added: "As a player, you can't accept that happening to your team."

The Ducks and Wild entered in a group of eight teams separated in the Western Conference standings by four points, from fifth to 12th place. Sliding back a bit this month while several regulars are out with injuries, including star Teemu Selanne, the Ducks got a big boost from Hiller.

"Everyone knew we had to make some changes and fight a little more," Hiller said, adding: "We can't keep going like we were."

After scoring 11 goals in their last two games, 10 in even-strength situations that have been a struggle for them this season, the Wild just couldn't put their shots on target. They wasted two power plays in the opening frame and two more in the game, putting them in a 2-for-27 slump with an extra skater. They've dropped to 10th in the NHL in that category.

The Wild had 18 attempts in all that missed the net, and Lemaire said he thought that futility caused them to think too much rather than relax and focus on skating for more chances.

Brunette appeared to turn his right knee before a face-first collision with the boards. He was doubled over in pain and could barely hobble off the ice. With Craig Weller (head injury) scratched and Benoit Pouliot (sent to the minors) unavailable, Brunette's departure left them short-handed up front and forced bruiser Derek Boogaard into more minutes than usual.

Later in the second, Kim Johnsson nearly controlled and cleared a puck that Brendan Morrison dug out of the corner, but it glanced off his skate toward Andrew Ebbett. He had the presence of mind to fire a quick pass through the slot, and Perry knocked it in for only the second goal given up by Minnesota's penalty kill in the last seven games.

"They get a couple chances, they'll bury every time they get a chance there," Lemaire said. "They've got skills. They're good offensively, and every little mistake you make they'll take advantage of it."

In the last part of the period, the Ducks called timeout. Seconds later, Marek Zidlicky's slap shot hit the crossbar. The scramble for the puck officially ended when a whistle blew, rendering Nolan's tip-in moot. But video replays showed Hiller never had control, sending the fans into a booing frenzy.

Both Carlyle and Hiller acknowledged the puck wasn't frozen.

"I tried to slide over somehow, and it was somewhere close to my pad," Hiller said. "I tried to keep in front of me, and I lost it. I think the ref lost it too, so he blew the whistle. But, yeah, it's a little lucky for us."

Said Nolan: "Those are referee calls. Nothing we can do about those."

Game notes
D Nick Schultz played in his 492nd career game, all with the Wild, to move into the top spot on the franchise's list. He passed RW Marian Gaborik. ... The Ducks are 20-4-3 when they score the game's first goal. ... The last game Brunette missed was on Dec. 31, 2001, due to a bruised shoulder. That was the first season of his first stint with Minnesota. ... Wild D Kurtis Foster, out for the last 10-plus months with a broken leg, will travel with the team to Chicago and take part in his first road practice since the injury.