By the time this one began, everything was all over. Every playoff match-up had been determined. There was nothing left to decide between the Ducks and the Oilers, except final positioning in the standings for the Ducks. The Oilers had been at the bottom of the Western Conference and the prime candidate for the first overall draft pick in June for quite a while.
At least the Ducks looked like they cared in the 7-2 victory, their final outing of a dismal season and their worst finish since before the lockout.
The Ducks got off to a quick start with a goal from Ryan Carter at 2:04 and Steve Eminger just :32 seconds later. They sat back briefly allowing Edmonton to get on the board at 8:59 with a goal from Mike Comrie, but that was as close as Edmonton ever got.
Matt Beleskey, having a fabulous rookie season, scored #11 at 13:24 to make it 3-1. It turned out to be the game winner.
It was fan appreciation night at the Honda Center, and possibly Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer’s final game, but even that could not draw a sell-out crowd, something they only did once this season – opening night.
The fans certainly appreciated when Selanne scored his 27th goal of the season, this one on the power play, as usual, just :16 seconds into the second period. The “One More Year!” chants really got going then. Selanne, who only played 54 games this season, still finished 3rd in the NHL in power play goals and still averages a goal every other game. Not bad for a guy who is turning 40 in July.
“This isn’t exactly the way I wanted to finish the season,” Selanne lamented while talking to various media for at least 20 minutes after the game. “We are way too good of a team to miss the playoffs. It’s still hard to swallow when you believe you have a better team.”
Selanne’s status for next year is unknown, although it was clear he is ambivalent. He told the crowd, who refused to stop chanting for more playing time, “let’s see what happens.” He also admitted that if he was playing bad, it would be an easy decision. Perhaps for the Finn, it will be a good thing to have a long off-season with time for the family and time for rest and reflection. By the time September rolls around, fans can only hope that he will be hankering for a little more ice time.
The third period saw the Ducks keep rolling, despite a goal from former Duck, Ryan Whitney at 2:50. For some reason the crowd booed him mercilessly every time he touched the puck, as if he were Chris Pronger. Perhaps if Whitney had played better and seemed less sour about the trade to Edmonton the crowd would have been more forgiving, but this is a tough bunch of folks who expect a lot, reasonable or unreasonable.
Carter got his second goal of the game at 9:34 for his first two goal game since he scored his first two NHL goals in New Jersey on February 8, 2008.
George Parros, the ultimate fan favorite, took advantage of a turnover and showed the wicked shot that he has, getting another one past Jeff Deslauriers at 11:42.
Kyle Chipchura’s first short-handed goal at 16:46 just sealed everything up for the Ducks and gave the fans a nice way to end the season, albeit extremely disappointing. Fans weren’t the only ones disappointed.
“As high as we can be after scoring seven goals and a very entertaining hockey game for our last game, it’s very disappointing for our group,” said coach Randy Carlyle. “We play this game to win and we didn’t win enough.”
Now the Ducks can only go on and watch the playoffs from afar and sit and reflect on what to do better next year. Done in April is a strange feeling, and one they do not want to get used to having.
In other notes: Jonas Hiller made 18 saves before exiting the game with back spasms late in the second period. He made a stop on Andrew Cogliano that looked awkward and then proceeded directly to the locker room without returning. Curtis McElhinney came in and made 11 more saves. Todd Marchant was out with a strained oblique muscle suffered on April 3. Ryan Getzlaf will have the entire summer to rehab his ankle sprain. Brett Festerling had his bell rung in St. Louis on Friday and sat out the final game as well.