The Ducks continued their winning ways with a 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars, extending their winning streak to six games in a row.
The Ducks are now 10-7-1 on the season and in a quirky note, every single one of those victories have been by only one goal. The two exceptions? Both games against Dallas. This one and their first match-up on October 26 that resulted in a 5-2 victory.
Granted, the Stars were a tired team after playing the Los Angeles Kings the night before. Nonetheless, Dallas is always a dangerous team and games against your division rivals are extremely important.
The Ducks took advantage of the Stars in the first period and came out hard. In fact, it was one of their best starts all year. They outshot the Stars 18-5 in the first twenty minutes, surpassing their shot total of 14 for their game against the Islanders. Unfortunately they only had a tie game to show for their efforts.
Saku Koivu remained hot, scoring his fourth goal in five games at 13:56. Koivu, Teemu Selanne and Jason Blake continue to show their chemistry and have developed into a solid second line for coach Randy Carlyle.
Teemu made a great pass and it hit my skate and went in,” Koivu reflected. “Luckily it was called a goal.”
The lead was short-lived when Brandon Segal tied up the game at 14:52, putting the puck past Jonas Hiller.
“It’s not easy,” said Hiller. “I’m used to getting more shots. You have to stay focused.”
Hiller remained focused enough, and ended up making 27 saves in the game. The most important had to have been on Jamie Benn’s penalty shot midway through the third period. Hiller was beaten on Benn’s deke, but still managed to get his pads onto the ice to prevent the puck from going into the net. A little more lift from Benn and the game might have been different.
Instead, the Ducks maintained their two goal lead, thanks to goals from Ryan Getzlaf at 1:53 of the final period and a power play tally from Bobby Ryan at 9:36.
Brad Richards did bring the Stars back within one goal after he received a weird bounce that landed right on his stick. Into the net it went at 16:22.
Apparently the Ducks don’t want to have boring blow out games, but rather keep the fans in their seats until the bitter end. They also made it interesting by giving the Stars a power play with just 3:02 remaining, even pulling Kari Lehtonen with a minute left to play.
The puck taunted and teased at the open net, but Ryan finally sealed the game up at 19:46 by placing it firmly in the wide open net.
For the Stars, all they could do was wonder what went wrong again. A penalty shot here, one of at least three clanging post shots there, and the game would have been a different ending.
“We’d like to think we’re better than a .500 hockey club,” said captain Brendan Morrow. “But we’re not — we’re not finding ways to win games.”
The Ducks are finding ways to win games. Ugly ones. Mildly unattractive ones. Ones with errors. But they are finding ways to win and hold on. And in the end, a win is a win.
Good, solid goaltending from both Hiller and Curtis McElhinney have been key. Penalty killing has been exceptional as well. Secondary scoring coming into play. An ability to persevere, be patient and stick to the game plan. Better discipline. All of the little things are adding up to big results.
Six in a row and time to take the show on the road for three games – Chicago, a revisit to Dallas, and a trip to Minnesota. If the Ducks can keep earning points, they will be in a much better position moving forward. For now, they can be content in knowing that they are headed in the right direction after a disastrous start.