After stumbling to one of their worst starts to a season in recent memory, the Ducks have emerged to win six straight.
One reason for the quick turnaround has to be the emergence of secondary scoring.
Second-line center Saku Koivu extended his point streak to a season-high five games with the game’s first goal, on a redirect of a centering feed by Teemu Selanne. Bobby Ryan scored the Ducks’ final two goals to give him seven on the season. Ryan Getzlaf’s second-period goal — off a beautiful no-look pass from Corey Perry — was his seventh this year. All four players — Ryan, Getzlaf, Koivu and Selanne — are all on pace to score more than 30 goals this season.
For as much as their offense has come through, the back end has jelled sufficiently to give the Ducks the element they missed the most when the season started.
Goalies Jonas Hiller and Curtis McElhinney have posted a 1.96 GAA (12 GA/367 MIN) and .936 SV% (175-of-187) during the streak. Hiller made 27 saves Friday, including a sprawling pad save on a penalty-shot attempt by Jamie Benn, and along with Koivu was instrumental killing off a minor penalty with three minutes left in the third period. Speaking of the goaltenders, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle told reporters “that’s probably been the strongest part of our game.”
Keeping Dallas under 30 shots for the game was also a testament to progress of the Ducks’ defensemen. Rookie Cam Fowler had his first multi-point game in the NHL, contributing two assists in 24:16 — second only to Lubomir Visnovsky in ice time among blueliners. He has one goal, six points (third among all rookie defensemen) and a minus-1 rating through 12 games.
Luca Sbisa played another solid game since returning from the AHL, putting four shots on goal in 13:04 on a third pairing with Andreas Lilja. Should Sbisa continue to fulfill his promise at the NHL level, Sheldon Brookbank — who was a healthy scratch for the first time all season — could have a hard time getting back into the lineup.
“We didn’t give them a whole lot of momentum swings, which we’ve done the past few games,” Ryan told reporters. “That was huge.”
Some more notes:
- Randy Carlyle confessed that he had a tough decision in choosing tonight’s starting goalie. “I lamented over the decision to play (Hiller) because Curtis McElhinney had just pitched us the shutout,” he said, “but we felt in this situation, with a division rival, we’d go with our No. 1 guy. He delivered again for us tonight. He’s been rock-solid. We need that steady level of goaltending. Both of our goaltenders have been very strong.”
- The Ducks outshot the Stars 18-5 in the first period and Dallas was fortunate to head to intermission tied at 1. Their 37 shots on goal for the game matched their second-highest single-game output this season.
- Getzlaf, Selanne and Brad Richards (whose goal Friday brought Dallas within 3-2 with 3:48 left in the third period) are tied for fifth in the league in scoring with 19 points.
- The six-game winning streak is the Ducks’ longest since Feb. 17-Mar. 3, 2008. It equals the longest current win streak in the NHL (The Washington Capitals have also won six straight). This is the first time in franchise history that the Ducks have opened the month of November with a 6-0-0 record.
- The Stars failed to convert either of their power-plays, extending the Ducks’ streak to 17 straight penalty kills.
- Brookbank will also have to fend off Andy Sutton for playing time. The veteran defenseman should return soon from the hand fracture he suffered on opening night in Detroit.
- Matt Beleskey (goal, assist) and Dan Sexton (goal, two assists) combined for five points tonight for the Syracuse Crunch in a 3-0 win against the Albany Devils.