Wirtanen’s first NHL goal is a game-winner

Congratulations to PuckAgency client Petteri Wirtanen on his first NHL goal! Petteri was called up on Monday from Portland and scored the game-winning goal in Anaheim’s 3-1 win over Nashville, which was his first NHL game, on Wednesday night.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wirtanen’s first NHL goal sparks Ducks to victory
The rookie center scores the winner in the Ducks’ 3-1 triumph over Nashville.

The Orange County Register

ANAHEIM — Missing three key players from their lineup because of injuries, the Ducks need contributions from even unexpected sources, and that is exactly what they received Wednesday night in a 3-1 triumph over the Nashville Predators at Honda Center.

Third-period goals by rookies Petteri Wirtanen and Drew Miller, the first in the NHL for each, capped a tenacious effort that gave the Ducks their first winning streak of the season and enabled them to take a 4-4-1 record to Dallas for the beginning of a two-game road swing Saturday.

Wirtanen, recalled from American League affiliate Portland, Maine, on Monday and playing in his first NHL game, capped a two-on-one rush led by George Parros to snap a 1-1 tie 4:47 into the final session, and Miller added an insurance goal when he converted a breakaway at 12:23.

“It’s nice to see young players score their first goal,” Coach Randy Carlyle said. “It’s a tribute to the scouting staff and our management that were able to find these young players to come in and make a contribution. The contribution is greater tonight than what would be normally expected of them.”

With right wing Todd Bertuzzi and center Todd Marchant having been lost to a concussion and a bruised right ankle, respectively, in Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Minnesota, and defenseman Mathieu Schneider out with a broken ankle, the Ducks turned to two players who had previously combined to play in only one regular-season game.

Miller, whose previous NHL resume consisted of limited duty in three Stanley Cup playoff games last spring, dressed for a 5-4 loss at Pittsburgh on Oct. 6 but was a healthy scratch in the ensuing two games.

“Right now because of the injuries and guys we have out of the lineup, who are big players for us, we need those young guys to come in and do a good job, and they’ve been doing that,” goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. “Quite frankly, there are a lot of guys in Portland who could be called up, too. We’ve drafted pretty well here in the last few years, and made some good trades, so we’re pretty deep. It’s a good sign for our organization.”

Giguere did his part, too, registering 28 saves in his second appearance of the season after having missed the opening six games while recovering from sports-hernia surgery. The lone blemish was a goal 2:24 into the third period by Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter, who scored from the low slot after a nice pass from winger Alexander Radulov.

Suter’s first goal of the season erased a Ducks lead built on Corey Perry’s team-high fifth goal, which came 20 seconds before the end of the first period. A breakout pass by defenseman Kent Huskins, who scored his first NHL goal in Monday’s 6-3 victory over Detroit, sent Parros up the right wing with speed. Parros delivered a nice feed for Wirtanen, who poked the puck past Predators defenseman Greg de Vries and waited patiently for Chris Mason to commit before tapping a shot past the Nashville goalie’s outstretched right skate.

“It was a moment I couldn’t even imagine,” Wirtanen said. “Waking up this morning, I just wanted to take this as a normal game, but of course you’re a little bit nervous. The chance came and I put it in — and it just felt awesome.” Miller took a cross-ice pass from center Andy McDonald, eluded Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis near the Ducks’ blue line, outraced de Vries and beat Mason between his pads with a quick shot from the slot. “It was a big goal for our team, so it was nice to get that first one out of the way,” Miller said.

GOOD CHEMISTRY Wirtanen and Parros skated on the fourth line with left wing Brad May, reuniting a trio that shone at times during the exhibition campaign, including a game at Vancouver in which Wirtanen scored two goals. “We were psyched to have him up because we did have a couple of great games in the pre-season,” Parros said. “It worked again tonight. We’re happy to have him.”

NOTES Wirtanen became the ninth player in Ducks history to score a goal in his NHL debut, following Bobby Ryan, who did so in this season’s opener against the Kings in London. … Marchant skated briefly Wednesday morning and said he would try to practice today.