The Ducks squandered a two-goal lead, didn’t score or allow a goal in overtime, then rolled the dice in the shootout. Sound familiar?
Friday’s 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames followed the same script as Anaheim’s last two outings, a win in Edmonton and a loss in Vancouver.
Lubomir Visnovsky and Dan Sexton scored in the first and second periods, respectively, to stake the Ducks to a 2-0 lead. After goals by Olli Jokinen and David Moss knotted the game at 2 in the third period, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry scored in the shootout to seal the win. Hiller preserved the victory with a glove save on Rene Bourque on the other end after Perry’s goal in the third shootout round.
The Ducks have gained points in their last three games, and in six of their last eight. But about squandering those two-goal leads …
“The problem is we start thinking too much about it,
instead of just playing,” Hiller said. “We’re thinking about what could happen. It’s a
mental game. We have to do better and we’re going to work on it.”
If there was something new under the Orange County sun, it was this strong declaration by Randy Carlyle after the game: “Probably the strongest part of our team is goaltending,” he said. “You can’t
complain with their work ethic and the amount of big-time saves.”
Hiller played for the third time in four nights. After getting the win Tuesday he was called upon Wednesday to relieve Curtis McElhinney, who couldn’t continue after suffering a cut above his eye late in the third period in Vancouver.
But Hiller didn’t look any worse for the wear, stopping 37 shots through 65 minutes, plus two more in the shootout.
As a tandem, Hiller and McElhinney rank 21st in the league in goals-against average, but are tied for 10th in the league in save percentage – indicating that they’re playing behind a defense that has let a few too many shots get through.
Sexton’s breakaway goal came off a precision pass from linemate Brandon McMillan and gave the Ducks’ “kid line” a rare goal.
Center Nick Bonino got the rush started on the other end by winning a faceoff; the only reason Sexton was there to finish it was because of injuries to Teemu Selanne (strained groin) and Aaron Voros (broken orbital bone). Among the “kids” who have rotated on and off the line, Sexton has two goals, McMillan has one, and Kyle Palmieri has another.
Visnovsky’s one-timer from the slot, created by his own good skating on a breakaway, was his first goal since Nov. 9.
A few more notes:
Andreas Lilja logged 19:43 in his first game since Nov. 27 after being a healthy scratch in six straight games. Sheldon Brookbank and Andy Sutton were healthy scratches. Sutton had played in nine straight games since his return from a thumb fracture. Lilja blocked three shots and wasn’t “credited” with any giveaways.
The Ducks were a solid 40-30 (57 percent) in the faceoff circle.
Sans Selanne, the power play reverted back to its old shortcomings, failing to score on any of its five chances.