In the most recent battle for the underhyped title of who-should-the-Ducks-have-kept-as-their-backup-goalie, both Jonas Hiller and Ilya Bryzgalov looked very disinterested in claiming bragging rights.
Ten goals, 63 shots on goal, and clearly the message to the Ducks’ skaters got through. With Bob Murray putting his team on notice over the weekend that he’s willing to shake up the roster if they can’t play themselves into contention, maybe every man (finally) played this game as if he could be on the trading block. (Clearly, Hiller wasn’t bothered by this prospect).
The lines were back to “normal”:
Anaheim allowed only nine first-period shots on goal, but the defense was pretty tight. It didn’t seem like that many. The power-play goal they allowed came as a result of aggressive greed — three short-handed defenders swarmed the puck as it neared the blue line, but the Coyotes kicked it back down low and were able to score an easy goal off Mikkel Boedker’s stick.
Ryan Getzlaf answered with the highlight-reel play of the game. Crossing in front of the net after a bad Phoenix turnover, he made a no-look pass (OK, maybe a one-look pass) on the go behind his back to Chris Kunitz, who shot past Bryzgalov to make it 1-1.
After Corey Perry scored on a tip-in to make it 2-1 early in the second, Steve Goertzen engaged Travis Moen almost immediately after the goal. That seemed to spark Shane Doan, who almost immediately scored on a breakaway shot from the right circle that fooled Hiller.
Kunitz hacked away at a loose puck under Bryzgalov’s pads until it crossed through for the Ducks’ third goal later in the second. Rob Niedermayer deflected a deep Chris Pronger slapshot off his chest to make it 4-2.
Doan got his second goal of the game off a Ducks turnover, toeing left to right in front of Hiller between several defenders to make it 4-3.
With 1 second left in the middle period, Moen alertly went to the front of the net when Scott Niedermayer wrapped behind Bryzgalov and fired toward the crease. It took a pinpoint pass from the captain to elude Bryzgalov and a Phoenix defender, off Moen’s stick and 5-hole into the net.
2:17 into the third, Bobby Ryan collected a long rebound all alone to the goalie’s right, flicking it in before Bryz could recover. That extended Ryan’s streak to four games with a point. Perry made it 7-3 by crashing the net and jamming the puck home for a rebound, his second goal of the game. The fantasy-hockey value was surprisingly low for such a high-scoring game, as no Duck had more than two points. Darn.
Back to reality, the Ducks drew even with the Coyotes in the standings, tied for fifth at 53 points apiece. It’s also worth noting that Teemu Selanne made the trip, but wasn’t in the lineup. He could be close — we’ll try to find out tomorrow.
Ducks Head Coach Randy Carlyle: “A lot of things went our way and you gotta take the positives out of the game. We thought that we started very well. Even though we gave up the first goal, we thought we had a great start to the hockey game… We were lucky enough to establish our forecheck and that got our game going for us. That’s the most important thing, you need a good start and we were able to get that start on the road… First game after the All-Star break, there’s lots of sloppy play and there’s lots of plays where pucks bounce away from you instead of for you and tonight we found ways to get those things over the goal line…”
Ducks Forward Travis Moen: “I think every night we try to go out there and handle adversity the right way. Tonight it just seemed like everything clicked right… There’s still some areas we can work on, but for the most part it was a pretty solid game…”
Ducks Forward Corey Perry: “We rallied around one another and we picked up the slack during the game. We rebounded well and that’s how we have to play. We have to play with a little emotion…”
Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky: “The reality is that we played against a team that knows the situation and knows where they’re at, they understand where they are in the standings and they basically just wanted to win the game more than we did… We had too many turnovers, too many battles that we lost over loose pucks. We didn’t have that same want that we had last week against Detroit… Every game is going to be like this. We have to be prepared. We have to take a hit to make a play, we got to get to loose pucks, and that’s how you play playoff hockey.”
Coyotes Forward Shane Doan: “You’re going into the last minute of a period and you never want to give up one, especially when you have a faceoff deep in their zone. You have to give them credit, they drove the net every chance that they got, they got second and third opportunities and buried them. The last three games that we lost were right there in the pack with us. We as a group have to except that we are going to have to work hard and battle, and there are going to be a lot of teams coming after us because the playoffs are pretty much going to be from now on. We have to find a way to win 4 out of every seven and keep going like that.
Coyotes Forward Mikkel Boedker: “I think we worked hard and battled hard but they were just a little stronger than we were tonight. (On the last second Ducks goal) Obviously it’s a big help for them, they get up two goals against and that cracked a little bit. But we kept our heads held high but they out battled us in the third. As a team we are a good group and we will bounce back.