He happily stood in a service-floor hallway like so many times before, and probably would have chatted well into Sunday night if not ushered away to catch a bus.
Former Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau was in his chatty place, and simply glad it was over after his Minnesota Wild used a second-period flurry and some sell-out defense late for a 2-1 win against the Ducks in his first game in Anaheim since he was fired last summer.
“I love it,” Boudreau said. “When you win, it’s easy to face the questions. But it’s always great coming back. I saw an awful lot of people that I knew and treated me well.”
Boudreau then got off a one-liner when asked whether having gone through this before, when he returned to Washington as a former Capitals coach for the first time, helped.
“No, because I don’t want to get fired anymore, so I don’t want to keep getting this experience,” Boudreau said jokingly.
And so the teams went off in their own directions after a mostly business-like game that could have made Boudreau’s homecoming more of a bummer if not for the two goals allowed by the Ducks in a span of 1:42 in the second period.
They did not test goalie Devan Dubnyk enough and took their first regulation home loss since Black Friday, against the Chicago Blackhawks. It ended an eight-game home points streak and the theme was familiar: Ryan Kesler led the offense with his 16th goal while Corey Perry missed a superb chance to tie it late and extended his goal-less streak to 12 games.
The Ducks played a third straight game without injured Ryan Getzlaf but nearly tied it on Perry’s shot that went wide left and two looks by Antoine Vermette with goalie John Gibson pulled for an extra attacker. Kesler pointed to the second-period lapse, ironically a trait they had under Boudreau.
“They’re a good team,” Kesler said. “But saying that, I think we gave away points tonight. We were the better team in the first and third periods, but in the second period, for a couple of minutes, we gave it away.”
Actually, the Ducks had only four shots in the opening 17 minutes of the second period and were outshot, 16-6, in that frame. Two power plays in that 17-minute stretch yielded one shot.
“We weren’t physically involved in the game and mentally it was like we lost ourselves for 15 or so minutes,” Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said.
Minnesota struck on Matt Dumba’s one-timer with Logan Shaw and Cam Fowler in the penalty box for the Ducks. Jared Spurgeon wristed a shot from the edge of the left circle that deflected in for a 2-1 lead that held up for Boudreau to exhale.
Boudreau was not recognized in a video tribute, as the Ducks tend to do for returning players or coaches who have made a significant impact, specifically the four straight Pacific Division banners that Boudreau oversaw in his five-year tenure. A Ducks spokesman said the team typically reserves that recognition for returning members of the 2007 Stanley Cup team.
Boudreau, one day shy of his 62nd birthday, said in a roundabout way that the win did mean something more against his former team.
“The first one’s always nice when you come back, because it becomes more normal every time after that, but at the same time you’re usually pretty nervous,” Boudreau said. “Your players know that you want to win, so it was nice to see they played as well as they did.”