After losing the first two road games, the Ducks finally got a road win with a 3-2 victory over Edmonton on Friday night. The Ducks are now 12-20-5 on the road this season, so winning one out of three is about average.
It is also part of the reason why the Ducks are not in playoff contention for the first time since 2004, prior to the lockout. You have to win more than 1 in 3 to be a contender.
Knowing that they were out of it, although not yet mathematically eliminated, the Ducks decided to give the youngsters a look, with a view towards next season.
Curtis McElhinney got his first start in goal, giving Jonas Hiller the first night off in 20 consecutive games. McElhinney made 34 saves for the win and performed well for the team.
Nick Bonino, a Boston College standout who was signed last week, got his first taste of the NHL. He got to play part of the time on the top line with Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan. Ryan Getzlaf, who re-tweaked his ankle in the previous game, did not play and could use some time off to fully heal his injury. Bonino, a center, played 13:39 in his debut, and was 57% in the face off circle. If he had any nerves, they didn’t show and he didn’t make any glaring errors.
Veterans Todd Marchant and Jason Blake got to take a seat in the pressbox so that Ryan Carter and George Parros could get back in the line-up. Defenseman Brendan Mikkelson, recalled before the road trip, took the place of Brett Festerling.
Perhaps playing more relaxed with the pressure of making the playoffs clearly off their shoulders, the Ducks managed to get it done. Parros scored a rare goal, with a helper from Carter, at 8:18 of the first period.
Edmonton tied up the game at 5:52 with a goal from Gilbert Brule and the game remained tied until the third period.
The third period kept the officials busy with penalties and a few misconducts, including one by former Duck, Ryan Whitney, at the end of the game. That led to several power play opportunities, including a 5 on 3 that the Ducks capitalized on.
Perry got the first one at 12:30, and :08 seconds before the second penalty could expire, he did it again to make it 3-1. Teemu Selanne got assists on both of Perry’s goals, giving him the sole possession of 56th all time on the assists list with 652 assists, passing up Brett Hull.
Edmonton pulled Jeff Deslauriers for the extra attacker and with a 5 on 3 of their own, it became a 6 on 3. Then it became 3-2, with Marc Pouliot scoring with :20 seconds left.
Luckily the Ducks held on for the win, with Scott Niedermayer making the final clear and allowing a sigh of relief.
Next up is the Dallas Stars on Monday, another team that has struggled this year and will also miss the playoffs. Prior to the game, Selanne will be honored for goal #600 and Jari Kurri, sitting with 601 goals, will fly in from Finland for the ceremony.
Perhaps Selanne will score #601 and #602 in front of Kurri? At this point, it’s all that Ducks fans have left to look forward to.