The Avalanche made a visit to the Honda Center for the first time this season. After losing the past five meetings with the Ducks, Colorado wanted to end that statistic. If they could end the Ducks 11 game home winning streak, all the better. Coming back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Ducks in their own building with a final score of 4-3 was great for Colorado. Not so good for the Ducks.
“We played one period of hockey and we didn’t play very well after the first period,” said coach Randy Carlyle. “They turned it up. We stopped doing what we needed to do. We started to get cute, too soft around the puck. We didn’t get into the dirty areas. And some individuals had bad nights.”
The Ducks had a good first period, outshooting the Avs 14-2. Even more important was the Ducks had the lead. They were ahead 1-0 thanks to a power play goal from Jason Blake at 16:11. Bobby Ryan got the puck to Blake, who was positioned right next to the net and was able to jam it in behind Craig Anderson.
Teemu Selanne extended Anaheim’s lead to 2-0 at 4:37 of the second period. Blake got the puck to a wide open Selanne and goal #598 went in the net. Two more to go to 600.
After that, Colorado decided enough was enough and turned things around in their favor with a very strong period. They took advantage of two power play opportunities to tie up the game. First Paul Stastny got his pass through James Wisniewski’s legs to Chris Stewart. Stewart had a wide open net and put the puck behind Jonas Hiller at 9:10, just :15 seconds into their power play.
Later in the period, John-Michael Liles did an excellent job keeping the puck in the zone, diving to prevent it from clearing. Peter Mueller, just acquired from Phoenix in the Wojtek Wolski trade this morning, grabbed the puck and took a long shot from the blue line that made its way past Hiller at 15:43.
Those two goals sucked much of the life out of the Ducks and the crowd.
The Ducks might have fared better if they could have stayed out of the penalty box. A delay of game penalty for a puck out of play gave Colorado their sixth man advantage. Matt Duchene, nephew of Ducks assistant coach, Newell Brown, got his 21st of the year at 8:09. Not so great penalty killing by the Ducks, giving up 3 of 6.
Not so great goaltending, either, by Hiller, who seemed to have some lingering fatigue after playing in the Olympics. He let in goal number four, this one not a power play goal. T.J. Galiardi picked up a juicy rebound from Stastny’s breakaway attempt and lifted it up and over Hiller’s shoulder at 9:19.
Can you say rusty?
Speaking of Rusty, Ruslan Salei took a double minor for high sticking late in the third period. Anderson did a superb job of stopping an onslaught of Ducks shots. The one one he couldn’t stop was Scott Niedermayer’s deflection off of Scott Hannan’s skate to make at 4-3 at 16:55. There was only :23 seconds left in the power play.
The question that remained was could the Ducks tie things up in the remaining minutes? Answer – no.
“It’s disappointing when you come out like that and it ends up this way,” Niedermayer said.
End of franchise winning home streak. No two points in the standings. Not the way to begin the final 20 games.
“Right now every game’s important,” said Hiller after the game. “It’s tough. We had a 2-0 lead and we give the game away. There are 19 games left. We have to play better the next game.”
The Ducks now head to Phoenix on Saturday before they have another seven games at home and a chance for a new winning streak.
In other notes: The Ducks used only five defensemen after trading Ryan Whitney earlier in the day. Neither Aaron Ward nor Lubomir Visnovsky were expected to join the team until Thursday.
Dan Sexton also played in his first game since being recalled from Manitoba.