Saku Koivu scored a pair of goals, Brandon McMillan scored short-handed, and Teemu Selanne’s power-play goal with 2:07 left in the third period sent the game to overtime tied at 4.
Curtis McElhinney got the start with a healthy Jonas Hiller serving as the backup. He got help from a post in the third period, a missed breakaway opportunity in overtime, and finished with 21 saves. Rene Bourque, Olli Jokinen, Jarome Iginla and Curtis Glencross scored the Flames’ goals.
Calgary lost for just the second time in its last 10 games and suffered the same fate as conference-leading Vancouver two days before. Anaheim can complete the Western Canada sweep Sunday in Edmonton – an easy one to overlook but also the most winnable game of an otherwise tough trip.
The first 11 minutes, 15 seconds of hockey at Honda Center rendered the next 48:45 moot. Almost.
At least, it made for fairly easy writing on deadline. Seeing Jonas Hiller allow three goals in that early span, before heading to the bench, was a rare sight. Just as rare were the nature of the goals – each a little less excusable than the one before. Hiller said he didn’t see Jason Demers’ shot from just inside the blue line until it was in the back of the net. A few seconds later, Hiller was on the bench, and the Western Conference standings were guaranteed to be a gnarled mess.
The Sharks (27-19-6) and Ducks (28-21-4) each have 60 points now, cosmetically tied for fifth place in the standings but San Jose has the advantage of having one game in hand. Clearly, playing the Phoenix Coyotes the night before was a tremendous advantage, as the Sharks’ quick start was too much for Hiller and the Ducks.
“I think when they scored on the first shift it should have been a wake-up call,” said Bobby Ryan, who had one of the Ducks’ three goals. “We let them build off it. I don’t think you can discredit Jonas. He stood in there and some of the goals were tough to see, especially the third one. You don’t see it much.”
Cam Fowler and Joffrey Lupul also scored goals, with Lupul netting his first since Dec. 28. Curtis McElhinney made 17 saves – 10 more than Hiller – allowing only a power-play putback by Ryane Clowe at 15:39 of the second period.
The longtime captain of the Canadiens could only sit and watch from the penalty box as Max Pacioretty jammed a rebound past Jonas Hiller with 12.6 seconds left in the third period to tie the game at 3.
But for the second time in three games, Bobby Ryan saved the day. Using the same forehand move on Carey Price that he used four days earlier to win a game in Ottawa, Ryan scored the only goal of the shootout, and Jonas Hiller stopped all three Canadiens attempts on the other end, to give the Ducks the win.
Cam Fowler and Corey Perry scored power-play goals in regulation, and Ryan scored at even strength, to give Anaheim (27-20-4) a 3-1 lead heading into the third period. Goals by Pacioretty – his second of the game – and Mathieu Darche allowed the Habs to tie the game in a third period that saw them outshoot the Ducks 23-5.
Hiller, who made 37 saves, was his usual outstanding self in a head-to-head matchup with Price. By getting the win, Hiller matched Price for the NHL lead with 24 wins.
With one stop left (Tuesday in Columbus) on a four-game road trip, the Ducks have collected four of a possible six points to move into a tie with Nashville for fourth place in the Western Conference standings.
The city of Montreal has a unique relationship to the sport of hockey, and Saku Koivu has a unique relationship to all who have worn the uniform of the Montreal Canadiens. It goes beyond the fact that his sweater had a “C” stitched on it longer than anyone else’s – though, if that sounds trivial, it would be wise to invest 35 minutes, 44 seconds watching or listening to Koivu’s press conference (below).
The Ducks center will play in the Bell Centre Saturday for the first time as an opposing player. On Friday, Koivu – who called the arena “like home ” – took time to take questions from the media. There were many.
A transcript would only do partial justice to the mutual respect between Koivu and the city that shines through, so here’s the full video (courtesy of the Ducks’ website):
They were exhorting Bobby Ryan to shoot from every section of Honda Center except for two – sections 408 and 409, which were occupied by enough teal-clad Sharks fans to have filled six buses on a round-trip tour to and from San Jose.
Ryan dangled the puck on his stick from the left wall, through the left faceoff circle, through the slot, and through the right circle, before he finally released a shot at 14:29 of the second period. It was worth the wait for Ryan and for the fans (except those sitting in sections 408 and 409). The wrist shot sneaked through a scrum including Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle, Ducks forwards Joffrey Lupul and Brandon McMillan, and of course goalie Antti Niemi, for the only goal on Sunday.
“Their defenseman (Marc-Edouard Vlasic) made a good play and followed me,” Ryan said. “I kept trying to wait for him to stop and he never did. So I finally hit the brakes. There was so much traffic in front, Lupul and McMillan were creating a stir, so I just tried to put it through the traffic. They haven’t found holes in the past month. I’m glad they are finding them right now and I’ll try to continue to do it.”
Ryan has scored four goals in the last five games, all in the absence of injured center Ryan Getzlaf. Before that he had gone seven games without a goal. Ryan’s 18th goal of the season puts him three behind Corey Perry for the team lead.
It also spoiled an otherwise perfect night for Niemi, who had the unfortunate task of being opposed by Jonas Hiller, who recorded his second shutout in as many games.
More interesting than how each team is playing is how each team got to this point. Since the teams last met on Nov. 9, rookie forward Logan Couture has 13 goals and eight assists in 29 games to become the Sharks’ leading goal-scorer. They have six forwards (and one defenseman, Dan Boyle) entering play Saturday with at least 27 points – something no other NHL team can claim.
A lot of things culminated for the Ducks tonight – an awesome month for Jonas Hiller, a revamped power play, the maturation of the young defensemen, and whatever strain of influenza is running through the visitors’ dressing room.
Randy Carlyle wasn’t afraid to highlight the latter in explaining the Ducks’ most lopsided win of the season and their largest on home ice since Dec. 20, 1996, a 7-0 win over Calgary.
“We were able to establish that template,” Carlyle said. “When we do
get on the puck and establish that strong forechecking game, we are a
hockey club that can be effective. Tonight was one of those nights. We
caught Columbus when they were a flat hockey club. They had the flu go
through their team. We seemed to have a half step on them tonight.” Continue reading “Ducks 6, Columbus 0.” »
Jason Blake and Lubomir Visnovsky had two goals apiece, and Bobby Ryan added another to lift the Ducks to a 5-2 win in their first game since Ryan Getzlaf’s potentially serious injury.
Ryan centered a top line with left wing Matt Beleskey and right wing Corey Perry. Other than that, the lineup looked mostly the same, with the Masterton Line of Blake (two goals), Teemu Selanne (two assists) and Saku Koivu (two assists) coming up the biggest. Defenseman Toni Lydman also had two assists for the Ducks, including a precision
pass to spring Blake on a breakaway for his first goal of the game.
Jonas Hiller made 35 saves and stood tall after Jeff Carter’s goal brought the Flyers within 3-2 at 3:30 of the third period.
Visnovsky’s goal, with 3:10 left in the game, gave him 100 for his career and completed the scoring.
The Ducks blocked 14 shots, including four by Andy Sutton and three by Visnovsky. Cam Fowler blocked another late that appeared to injure the 19-year-old defenseman, but Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said that Fowler was OK after the game.
Despite the return of Teemu Selanne, the Ducks couldn’t overcome a natural hat trick by Eric Staal in the game’s first 22 minutes en route to their second straight loss.
Ryan Getzlaf scored both goals for the Ducks, the latter coming during a 6-on-3 shift with 1:48 left in the third period. Saku Koivu nearly knotted the game at 3 less than a minute later, but Cam Ward made the biggest of his 43 saves when he miraculously gloved down Koivu’s 9-foot shot to preserve the Hurricanes’ one-goal lead.
Joe Corvo provided the final score by scoring into an empty net with six seconds left.
Staal scored twice on the power play, at 7:27 and 19:33, as Carolina scored on its first two power plays of the game. He completed the hat trick with an even-strength goal after some good passing in traffic at 1:41 of the second period.
While hats littered the ice, Randy Carlyle shuffled his forward lines and saw the Ducks respond with several scoring chances against Ward. Their 45 shots on goal were their second-most of the season and marked their highest total since Nov. 19 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Selanne, playing his first game back from a groin injury, led the way with eight shots on goal in 20 minutes of ice time. He switched places with Bobby Ryan, skating with Getzlaf and Corey Perry for the final two periods. Bobby Ryan finished the game on a line with Koivu and Joffrey Lupul; Todd Marchant skated with Nick Bonino and Brandon McMillan; Jason Blake skated with Kyle Chipchura and George Parros.
Paul Mara re-entered the Ducks’ lineup, and Andreas Lilja and Andy Sutton were both healthy scratches. Mara skated on a third pairing with Luca Sbisa.
The Ducks weathered a slow start in the nation’s capital en route to their third straight win, getting a goal from captain Ryan Getzlaf with 56.6 seconds left in overtime.
Joffrey Lupul scored in the second period for the Ducks (17-3-4) and Brooks Laich scored in the first period for Washington (18-11-4), which has lost seven in a row.
After outshooting the Ducks 26-14 through two periods, the Capitals seemed out of gas in the third. Anaheim controlled the play, leading 7-5 in shots on goal, but couldn’t score on Semyon Varlamov, who finished with 22 saves.
In overtime, Jonas Hiller was only called upon to make one of his 31 saves. The Ducks looked like they were on the way to their third shootout in their last four games until Getzlaf carried the puck up the left wing, put on the brakes near the goal line, spun back around and used Scott Hannan as a screen for his game-winning wrist shot from 11 feet out.
Teemu Selanne made the trip but decided to rest his sore groin. Lupul took his spot on the second line, but got his goal on the first power play, flinging a puck that deflected to him underneath Varlamov at the 12:47 mark. It was Lupul’s second goal of the season in his sixth game back.
Saku Koivu centered the Ducks’ second line and played little more than 20 minutes after missing the last game with the flu. Selanne, center Kyle Chipchura and defenseman Paul Mara were the Ducks’ scratches.