It was Military Appreciation Night at Honda Center on Wednesday.
Other than Saku Koivu’s third-period goal, Curtis McElhinney’s 27-save shutout, and Luca Sbisa’s return to the NHL, there wasn’t much else to appreciate in the Ducks’ fifth straight win.
“With these wins,” Koivu said, “we buy some time for ourselves to get better.”
It’s rare when a team has to try and find bright spots in a winning streak, but such was the case after a 1-0 win in which the Ducks put 14 shots on goal. McElhinney got to enjoy his first NHL shutout, with Jonas Hiller earning some well-earned rest following his 39-save win the night before in San Jose. Sbisa stepped in for Sheldon Brookbank, who also got a day off with a strained right hamstring — one of many bumps and bruises incurred in the Ducks’ overtime win against the Sharks.
Here are a few notes that won’t make tomorrow’s editions:
Paired with Andreas Lilja, Sbisa played 17:41 in his return from the AHL, including 3:48 in penalty-kill situations. Sbisa led the Ducks with six hits, blocked two shots and had no giveaways. He earned praise from Carlyle after the game and spoke openly about regaining his confidence.
“When I was up here, I had pretty much zero percent confidence. I didn’t really believe in myself anymore,” Sbisa said. “I didn’t know what my game was. Down there, I got it back. I went out there and good things started to happen. I’m just trying to do the same thing up here. … I’ve got to prove myself and be consistent.”
Sbisa is the rare flashy skater who doesn’t need to score to have a good game. Wednesday offered a great example.
“Down there (in Syracuse) I was more of an offensive guy,” said Sbisa, who had a team-leading nine points in eight games. “I got a lot of PP time. I got some points, which helped my confidence. But up here I’m a little bit of a different role. I got a lot of PK time today. … They told me to play like I played in the (2010 Winter) Olympics. That’s what I’m kind of trying to do here. … I’m trying to get confidence by taking it shift by shift.”
Scary stat: after starting the season 0-3-0 and 4-7-1, Anaheim has
more points than all but two teams (Los Angeles and St. Louis) in the
Western Conference standings. That stat should be qualified by the fact
that the Ducks have played 17 games, while the Kings and Blues have
played 13 each. The Detroit Red Wings, who also have 19 standings
points, have only played 14 games. Looking at the schedule, the Ducks don’t get a significant break until a five-day layoff between home games on Nov. 21 and Nov. 26.
Scary stat, part II: 40-year-old Teemu Selanne, who got the secondary assist on Koivu’s goal, moved into a tie for fourth in the NHL scoring race (18 points). He almost had a goal, too, getting a breakaway in the third period against 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson. Roloson belly-flopped and stuck his leg out to smother Selanne’s shot.
Koivu has points in four straight games (4-2=6). Coincidentally, Koivu scored the overtime goal the last time the Islanders visited Anaheim on March 19, 2010.
The Ducks’ last five-game winning streak came Jan. 5-13 and equals the Washington Capitals for the longest current streak in the NHL.