Breaking up linemates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry is usually a last-resort move for Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau, a sure sign that they are fishing for goals.
Boudreau and the Ducks caught a big one Wednesday, and it neatly wrapped up a long stay on their pond.
Split from his usual partner for almost all of the game, Perry started a tic-tac-toe play with Patrick Maroon and Rickard Rakell, whose tiebreaking tap-in goal with 6 minutes 19 seconds left helped give the Ducks a 3-1 win against Minnesota at Honda Center.
It salvaged the end of an eight-game, three-week stretch at home, 5-3. Anaheim will go on a three-game trip leading into next week’s All-Star break and won’t play at home again until Feb. 2.
“It’s uplifting rather than deflating,” said Coach Bruce Boudreau. “To go on the road in three really tough buildings on a two-game losing streak would have really tested our mettle. But to go there now with a win under our belts and play the best team in the league [Washington], we have a little bit of confidence.”
Rakell’s 10th goal backed up 25 saves by goalie John Gibson, 14 of which came in the second period.
Rakell’s goal was part of a subplot of line shuffling that continued after Boudreau split up Getzlaf and Perry, as he has at brief times this season in search of scoring, balance and more difficult defensive line matchups for the opponent.
He did at the end of Sunday’s game against the Kings, when Getzlaf had success with Chris Stewart and new arrival David Perron. That trio played together again, while Perry was with Rakell and Maroon, though Getzlaf and Perry were briefly reunited at the end of the first period.
But the Perron-Getzlaf-Stewart line produced the Ducks’ first goal. It came on defenseman Shea Theodore’s wrist shot from inside the blue that made it through a thicket of players. Theodore was initially credited, but it was determined that Stewart got his stick on it for his seventh goal.
“It went pretty good,” Getzlaf said of the shuffling. “Obviously, you’re going to take some learning curves. You’ve got to get to know different people and where they’re going to be. We’ve got to find ways to work guys into the lineup and get their minutes. I thought tonight was a pretty good job of that.”
Former Kings center Jarret Stoll reintroduced himself to Southern California fewer than seven minutes in with the game’s first goal. Stoll beat Gibson with an impressive wrist shot from the high slot. Rakell turned it over as he fell down near the boards, and Erik Haula set up Stoll, who broke into a big smile with his arms raised for his first goal with Minnesota.
It is his first appearance in the area since his seven-year stint with the Kings ended last summer.
The goal also ended Minnesota’s two-game plus scoreless streak.
The Ducks reassigned goalie Anton Khudobin, and Frederik Andersen backed up Gibson. Andersen is returning from an upper-body injury and Boudreau said in the morning that Andersen wouldn’t back up, but the Ducks made the move shortly before the game.
Defenseman Cam Fowler has skated for a few days and said he might practice on the upcoming trip. He sprained his knee Dec. 27 and was expected to miss four to six weeks, but said he feels ahead of schedule.
“For right now, I’m real happy with where I’m at, and I hopefully I keep progressing from here,” Fowler said.
Follow Curtis Zupke on Twitter @curtiszupke