The Ducks are far from the best team in the NHL but, when they get rolling, might just be the most frustrating — certainly on a good night, like Tuesday.
They take a lot of penalties and on a good night (like Tuesday) will survive; they give up a lot of shots and on a good night (like Tuesday) will survive; they have some forwards with extraordinarily gifted hands and on a good night they’ll all find the scoresheet. On Tuesday, George Parros did too, which tells you what kind of a night it was for Dallas.
Anaheim survived another game-ending injury — this one to Matt Beleskey — plus five minor penalties and 37 shots against to beat the Stars. Jonas Hiller (35 saves) outplayed counterpart Kari Lehtonen (21 saves), who allowed a pair of goals to Bobby Ryan, and one each to Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry and Parros.
Dallas gained the zone with ease early and led the shot tally 30-16 over the first two periods. The Ducks got away with it behind some outstanding saves by Hiller and a solid penalty kill that allowed only a Loui Eriksson goal at 16:06 of the opening period. Todd Marchant spent nearly 5 minutes on the ice in penalty-kill situations (a team-high 4:58, to be exact, rare for a forward) and earned his keep with a team-best four blocked shots.
Despite being outplayed, the Ducks could take solace in trailing by only a goal after one period, and Ryan’s deflection of a Lubomir Visnovsky shot 28 seconds into the second period tied the game at 1.
Ryan got his second goal of the game, and Visnovsky his second assist, when the two connected on an odd-man rush and Ryan finished with a one-timer from the left circle at the 10:30 mark.
Less than a minute later, Parros scored his first goal of the season and the 14th of his career in highly unusual fashion for an enforcer — on a solo breakaway. The burly winger created his own chance by blocking a point shot by Dallas’ Karlis Skrastins, rumbled in the other direction with the puck, then somehow fooled Lehtonen onto his side, forcing the goalie to stack his pads in the air. Parros’ shot tipped off Lehtonen’s top leg and into the net to give the Ducks a 3-1 lead.
The Ducks had to kill off two more Dallas power plays before the period was over, which might have merely made for more momentum in the third period.
Former Duck Brian Sutherby brought the Stars within 3-2 at 6:08 of the third, but that was as close as the game would get.
Anaheim drew the next penalty when — in an instance of karmic redemption — Marchant was hooked to the ice by Brad Richards, who was skating a step behind. Selanne converted with his 223rd career power play goal, the most among active players, off a nice backhand feed from Perry at 10:11. The 611th goal of his career also moved Selanne into sole possession of 15th on the all-time list, breaking a tie with Bobby Hull.
On the very next shift, Beleskey’s night ended when he was hurled helmet-first into the boards on a check by Stephane Robidas. Beleskey took his time getting up and leaving the ice, looking woozy, but had full mobility after the game and was set to take the team flight back to Anaheim for an evaluation.
Robidas, meanwhile, was hit with a five-minute major penalty for boarding that gave the Ducks a lengthy 5-on-4 power play. Six seconds after the penalty expired, with 4:30 left on the clock, Selanne returned the favor to Perry for the game’s final goal.
In what could be a season of survival for the Ducks, “survival” was the theme on this 2-2 road trip. Rookie Cam Fowler — arguably the team’s best defenseman prior to the trip — didn’t play after breaking his nose in the most recent home game against Phoenix. Dan Sexton was lost to a broken nose, too, early in Saturday’s last-second loss in Detroit.
Anaheim is still allowing more shots than any team in the league (a stat that was lowered Tuesday to 39.7 per game) and still relying on too few players to score. Other than Parros, only six players registered a point — two each for Ryan Getzlaf, Perry, Selanne, Ryan, Visnovsky and Lydman.
Jason Blake went from the second line, to the third line, to a healthy scratch in Dallas. That gave the Ducks a more traditional defense-first third (Marchant, Ryan Carter and Troy Bodie) and fourth (Voros, Kyle Chipchura and Parros) lines. Randy Carlyle might have liked this configuration enough to use it again Friday when the New Jersey Devils visit Honda Center.
More than anything, the Ducks are relying on Hiller and Curtis McElhinney to make several outstanding saves in each game.
When they do — which was the case again in Dallas — it’s proven to be enough to frustrate the other team into submission.