Maybe the Ducks feel that the new CHOC plaza needs more trees. Maybe they enjoy blowing two goal leads and living on the edge. Maybe they are just slow learners. Whatever the reason, the Ducks went to their third shootout in as many games.
In a scenario that is beginning to feel like the movie, “Groundhog Day,” the Ducks once again had a two goal lead going into the third period against the Calgary Flames. Just like the two prior games, the Ducks allowed the opposition to get back into the game, tie it up and go to overtime. And just like the two prior games, the Ducks needed a shootout to decide the final outcome. In this case, it went Anaheim’s way, with a 3-2 win.
“It’s not the typical way you want to win hockey games,” said captain Ryan Getzlaf. “We did get the points that we needed here.”
Even though Calgary had played the night before, the Ducks seemed like the tired team for much of the game. Despite being outshot, the Ducks managed to capitalize on their chances.
Lubomir Visnovsky scored at 12:46 of the first period. When he put the puck behind Henrik Karlsson (giving Miikka Kiprusoff a rare night off), it was the first shot on goal in the past 10 minutes. No wonder Karlsson was caught unaware, but the resounding clang off the post and in woke him up.
The Ducks continued to be outworked and outshot in the second period as well. Nonetheless, Dan Sexton finished off a nice pass from Brandon McMillan at 16:29, careening into the end boards and celebrating from his back. Sexton had a busy day that began in Syracuse. After being recalled in the morning, he landed in Anaheim in the afternoon in time for the game. Scoring a goal is a nice way to forget the hassles of air travel these days.
The third period should have shown signs of fatigue on the Flames. Instead, they were the perky ones on the ice and kept Jonas Hiller hopping. Hiller made a total of 37 saves in the game, but the biggest save was the Ducks butts, as Hiller bailed them out time and time again.
“The problem is we start thinking too much about it,” Hiller said. “We’re thinking about what could happen instead of just keeping going and wanting to score the next one.”
Calgary, who has not won a regular season game in Anaheim since January 19, 2004, came really close to breaking that streak. Olli Jokinen got a power play goal, his second in as many nights, just 6:58 into the period. That gave the Flames plenty of time left to even things up or even go ahead. Mark Giordano had a wicked shot from the point that was deflected in by David Moss at 13:25 and the game was tied.
At that point the Flames had outshot the Ducks 37 – 18, but the Ducks woke up long enough to keep the game tied. Their efforts in the overtime period should have been on display in regulation.
Hiller continued strong in the shootout, with only Alex Tanguay’s shot trickling past his pads. Getzlaf and Corey Perry put their pucks behind Karlsson and the Ducks walked away with another squeaker of a win and Pinnacle Landscaping had another tree to donate to CHOC for their efforts.
The Flames? Got to go home with another loss and feeling exactly like the Ducks do whenever they visit Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
The Ducks now have one more game at home on Sunday before taking their show on the road for seven games. While winning in the shootout is good, because they are getting points, keeping a lead and finishing off an opponent would be even better. Maybe they should try that on Sunday.