The Ducks finally got another win on the road, this time a 2-1 shootout victory over Tampa Bay. Having gone 1-3 on a crucial road trip, two points over the Lightning was critical.
As has been their modus operandi in the past, the Ducks allowed the first goal against them in the game. While playing 4-on-4 midway through the first period, Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis took off down the ice with only Ryan Whitney to defend. Stamkos made a quick pass and St. Louis wasted no time putting it behind Jonas Hiller, who was back in goal for the Ducks.
Miraculously, the Ducks tied up the game in the second period on the power play. On their first power play attempt, James Wisniewski landed his shot behind Antero Nittymaki at 6:36. When was the last time the Ducks got a power play goal on the road? Longer than they would like to count.
Going into the third period, the game was tied at 1-1, same as it had been in Atlanta and against Washington. Nittymaki stopped everything else the Ducks threw at him, making 31 saves on the night. Hiller also stepped up, stopping 30 shots. As a result, the game went into overtime and then a shootout.
Were it not for the power play goal, the Ducks would have been on the losing end once again.
Instead, things changed as they found themselves on the winning end of the shootout thanks to Wisniewski. The defenseman once again used his puck-handling and shooting skills to win the second shootout in a row. On Saturday, against the St. Louis Blues, Wisniewski was the shooter in the seventh round and made some nice moves to beat Chris Mason. Tonight, coach Randy Carlyle went with the hot hand and used Wisniewski as the third shooter. With a totally different move, Wisniewski nailed it again, giving him a perfect 2 for 2 record in the shootout.
The most important “two” was the two points the Ducks earned. Did it help that Tampa sent out some unlikely shooters in Jeff Halpern and Brandon Bochenski, rather than use some of his more predictable choices? Sure, but regardless of the reasons, Hiller stayed firm, only letting in Stamkos’ shot, and Ryan Getzlaf and Wisniewski did their part.
Now the Ducks hang out in Tampa Bay for a little while longer to enjoy the sun and good weather before going a little further south in Florida to meet up with the Panthers on Monday night. They can go into their final game of the road trip with a little momentum and more confidence. They might also be able to enjoy the return of Teemu Selanne, who joined the team in Tampa and is still getting back up to speed since breaking his jaw on January 13.
The Ducks have a chance to end the road trip at .500 if they can defeat the Panthers.