Two games in two days with two shootouts. Unfortunately for the Ducks, there were not two wins as well. While victorious over the Edmonton Oilers, the Vancouver Canucks prevailed in the second consecutive shootout, defeating the Ducks 5-4.
Anaheim certainly had their chances in regulation, despite looking a bit haggard by the end of the game. Playing three hours and ten minutes worth of hockey in 24 hours will do that to you and that is not taking into account the extra time for a 10 round shootout that was required the first night.
Coming home with three out of four possible points in a quick road trip should be a positive for the Ducks, who have only two more games at home before a seven game stint on the road.
Corey Perry got the Ducks on the board with the power play at 4:37 of the first period. The Canucks have been exceptionally efficient at killing penalties this year, but the Ducks have been the rare exception to that. It was Perry’s 300th point in his 399th game.
The lead did not last long as Ryan Kesler got the first of two goals at 6:20, also on the power play. If you blinked, you would have almost missed the next goal from Jeff Tambellini just :11 seconds later that put the Canucks in the lead. While Kesler’s was impossible to stop, Tambellini’s was due to miscommunication between the Ducks and Curtis McElhinney, seeing a rare start in goal.
McElhinney was exceptional the rest of the way and the Ducks climbed back up on top.
Joffrey Lupul scored his first goal of the season at 9:35 of the second period, exactly one year since his last goal. Only back for three games since recovering from back surgery, Lupul has helped provide an offensive spark and should only improve as the rust continues to fall off.
The game appeared to be heading into the third period tied when Teemu Selanne got what seemed to be his millionth power play goal at 19:43. You cannot help but marvel at Selanne’s ability to put the puck in the net, a skill that has not diminished one iota over his 19 year career.
The Ducks extended their lead to 4-2 with Cam Fowler’s third goal of the year, greatly assisted by Alex Edler and Roberto Luongo, who ping ponged the puck in the net behind himself off the skate of his own defenseman at 11:36 of the third.
With only two shots on goal during the third period by Anaheim, it seemed inevitable that Vancouver would get back into the game. Especially as neither of the Sedin twins had made it on the scoreboard yet, a rare occurrence indeed. Getting McElhinney out of the game helped, too.
Christian Ehrhoff took a powerful shot that hit McElhinney right in the forehead, digging his helmet into his head near his eye and leaving him bloodied and in need of stitches. The rebound of Ehrhoff’s shot was finished off by Daniel Sedin at 12:48. There was no contest by McElhinney, who was writhing on the ice from Ehrhoff’s shot.
“What’s the call when a goalie gets hit in the mask with a slap shot?” said coach Randy Carlyle. “(The referee) said it was too quick. Four sets of eyes out there. There are two linesmen that are supposed to make the call out there and that clearly is cut and dried.”
Cut and dried or not, McElhinney was out, Jonas Hiller came in cold and the Canucks were within a single goal from tying the game.
“It’s the worst thing that can happen to you as a backup, especially in a one-goal game,” Hiller said. “It was not easy, but I thought I had a couple of good saves.”
Hiller had 12 saves on 13 shots – quite a few considering he went into the game with only 7:12 left to play.
The one he missed was Kesler’s second goal at 19:38. The Canucks net was vacated for the extra attacker and they capitalized with persistence, banging the puck over and over, nearly willing it to go into the net.
That sent the game to overtime, where the Ducks had more shots on goal in the extra five minutes than they did in the entire third period.
As it did last night, overtime proved insufficient to determine a winner and the game went to a shootout. This one did not last 10 rounds. Unable to put anything past Luongo, the Ducks came out the losers when Tambellini got the only tally against Hiller.
The Ducks are still barely holding on to 8th place in the Western Conference, but having played more games than any other team in the NHL, that will undoubtedly change. The Western Conference is so tight a mere 12 points separates first place from 15th, so every point counts. The Ducks have an opportunity for two more on Friday night against Calgary at home.
In other notes: Aaron Voros was activated off the IR after a seriously nasty bout with the flu. As a result, Matt Beleskey was sent back down to Syracuse to make room on the roster.