Even though the Ducks were still recovering from a long road trip, the Red Wings were the more tired team. Playing their sixth game in nine nights and their second of back-to-back games, there were points when the Red Wings looked like the dead tired things. Anaheim happily took advantage of the situation in the 3-1 victory.
Things started off well for the Ducks, who got a rare goal from defenseman Ryan Whitney at 1:11 of the first period. His long shot from the blue line managed to find its way past Jimmy Howard and the Ducks got the good start that they needed.
“We gave ourselves a good start and built on that,” said coach Randy Carlyle. “We did a lot of things that we needed to. It’s all about getting points right now. We understand the situation we’re in. We’re looking up at a few teams. We’d like to climb into that other group to give ourselves a chance.”
It was 2-0 after Kyle Chipchura deflected Steve Eminger’s blue line shot off of his forearm at 16:13. The goal was reviewed at length, but it was determined to be a good goal (despite Howard’s protestations otherwise).
The Red Wings woke up a bit in the third period, and having two power plays early helped. Despite peppering Jonas Hiller with shot after shot, there were no holes in the Swiss goalie’s armor.
After Hiller had been the victim of a shooting gallery, the Ducks finally got their second shot on goal in the period and it went in. Bobby Ryan was perfectly positioned in front of the net to finish off a Ryan Getzlaf rebound at 8:55. 3-0 Ducks and a quiet Red Wings crowd.
Finally the Wings were able to take advantage of a third power play late in the period and Pavel Datsyuk had a pretty, pretty goal with just :09.9 seconds left to go in th second. The goal ended Hiller’s shutout streak at 155:03, the longest of Hiller’s career and dating back to a goal from Martin St. Louis in Tampa Bay two games ago.
That was the only thing that Hiller let in and he ended up with 46 saves on the evening.
“It’s fun to play if you get a lot of shots,” Hiller grinned after the game. “But it was also a little tiring, especially on a back-to-back, you don’t want to have that many shots. The whole team is playing really well defensively. Even if I have rebounds, we’re clearing them. Everybody is fighting hard, blocking shots and doing everything back there. I hope we can keep it going.”
The two points could not have been bigger for the Ducks, who need to win 2/3 of their remaining games to have a shot at the playoffs. A loss to the Red Wings would have put them further behind in the standings. Instead, the victory brought Anaheim within three points of Detroit.
“You’ve got to try not to lose two in a row,” said Whitney. “You lose one, you’ve got to come back. We had that stretch in Atlanta and Washington that was unfortunate, but it’s three in a row now and we’ve got to get a win against LA finally.”
Los Angeles is tomorrow night, when the Ducks themselves will be on the second of back-to-back games and will be meeting a team that has won seven in a row, their best run in decades. It will be a challenge, but two more points, especially against their Pacific Division rivals would be nearly as sweet as the points earned tonight.