Cam Fowler chatted with reporters for a few moments after his media scrum and did something that had not been seen much recently in the Ducks’ dressing room.
Asked about his celebration after the goal that ended the Ducks’ scoring drought, Fowler raised his arms sheepishly to indicate it wasn’t anything special. But the light gesture said everything about the pressure that was relieved Sunday after a 4-1 win against the Minnesota Wild at Honda Center.
The Ducks got their first win of the season and scored more goals than they did in the previous four games combined.
“To not get a win in regulation in four games, no matter what point of the season you’re at, feels unacceptable for us,” Fowler said. “It’s a start that we didn’t want to get off to. It’s the hand that we were dealt. Those things are going to happen. We needed a big win tonight.”
The Ducks were outscored 11-1 in their first four games, an alarming start for a team expected to play into June. They needed confidence as much as goals.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau started backup goalie Anton Khudobin, a surprise move after Khudobin was pulled in his Ducks debut Wednesday. But Boudreau didn’t want Khudobin to go an extended period without the chance to rebound. The Ducks are off for three days before a five-game trip.
Khudobin made 34 saves, including 29 in the final 40 minutes.
“It can’t be better,” Khudobin said. “When you don’t win a lot, [the stick is] always really tight in our hands. We got that monkey off our back. Finally.”
Fowler ended the Ducks’ scoreless streak at 173 minutes, 12 seconds when his wrist shot made it through traffic midway through the first period. Ryan Getzlaf set it up for his first point of the season.
“You could see air from a big balloon going out, and it was the same for the people in the stands,” Boudreau said. “That’s why they cheered for so long after that goal. They wanted to see a goal as bad as we did.”
It took until late in the first period for the Ducks to get their first goal by a forward, and it fittingly came from Rickard Rakell, who was perhaps their best player.
Rakell got his stick on Hampus Lindholm’s snap shot, after Corey Perry worked the puck around to him. Mike Santorelli tapped in a loose puck under goalie Devan Dubnyk’s pads for his first goal as a Duck, making it 3-1. Lindholm scored an empty-net goal on a 190-foot backhand clear.
Defensemen Korbinian Holzer made his Ducks debut and was a plus-1 in more than 14 minutes, another positive development the Ducks will gladly take.
“We’re not great right now,” Boudreau said. “We’re not out of the woods or anything, but it was a step in the right direction the last two games.”
Center Chris Wagner cleared waivers.