As the page turns on 2010, the Ducks have at last figured out the secret to success: Just play every game at home.
A come-from-behind win over the Blues on Thursday was the Ducks’ fifth straight at Honda Center, and it gave them a jolt of confidence that they can only hope lasts into the weekend.
Rugged defenseman Barret Jackman scored his first two goals of the season to stake St. Louis to an early lead before the Ducks scored the game’s final three goals over the final 12 minutes to grab a much-needed win.
“At times, it wasn’t a pretty hockey game, but we found a way to win,” head coach Randy Carlyle said. “That is the most encouraging thing for us because we found a way to lose these hockey games before. This time we found a way to win it.”
Matt Beleskey’s second career goal — in as many games — proved to be the game-winner with 2:40 left in the third period. Bobby Ryan, James Wisniewski and Todd Marchant also scored goals, and Jonas Hiller made 20 saves for the victory.
Beleskey might not be a top-six forward for long; Teemu Selanne is due to return from his hand injury during this weekend’s road trip and might take his place. But the rookie, who was recalled from the AHL at midseason, is enjoying the ride while it lasts. He’s also providing a more effective net-front presence than veteran Kyle Calder, who was placed on waivers before being sent to the minors last week.
“It’s really helping playing with them (Getzlaf and Perry),” Beleskey said. “They control the play down low almost every shift, so if I get to the net, there is a good chance there is going to be a rebound or something lying around.”
Ryan tied the game at 2 at 8:18 of the third period by firing between the legs of defenseman Eric Brewer as both skated up the right wing. The goal was his fourth over his past seven games, and his team-leading 20th of the season. But in a physical, frustrating game, Ryan said he needed it.
“I had some shots earlier in the game. For me to get that one, it was a huge morale boost,” he said. “It gives you a second wind, it really does. I thought, ‘let’s get it through his legs and hope for the best.’ I never saw the puck go in. I knew where I was shooting and luckily hit it.”
Saku Koivu picked up the assist on Ryan’s goal, as well as on Marchant’s empty-netter, giving the veteran center seven points in his last six games. The line of Koivu, Ryan and Dan Sexton produced a goal, three assists and finished plus-5 for the game.
You’d never know that the Ducks (18-19-7) are the 12th-best team in the Western Conference by watching them play outside Honda Center. Their current home-ice streak began Dec. 8 but the Ducks have balanced out that string of success with five straight losses on the road. The trick now is to maintain their success in a pair of challenging games Saturday and Sunday in Nashville and Chicago, respectively.