Going into Phoenix with a six-game losing streak to meet a team with a seven game winning streak, the hottest in the NHL, the Ducks did not seem to have a lot of hope. A 6-4 victory over their Pacific Division rivals was not exactly what was expected, but it sure felt good.
A lackluster performance against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday was followed up with a strong performance on Saturday night.
Phoenix scored first at 14:40 of the first period with a goal from Derek Morris, but the Ducks followed that up with a goal from Jason Blake at 18:37. It was Blake’s fourth of the year, but he certainly has had plenty of good opportunities in the past few games.
In the second period Lauri Korpikoski and Keith Yandle gave the Coyotes a 3-1 lead.
Then everything changed.
Bobby Ryan scored two goals in a row to tie up the game on a breakaway and partial breakaway. The first ever NHL goal for Brandon McMillan at 6:39 of the third period was followed by a goal from Corey Perry at 7:44. At 8:15, Ryan scored his third of the game for his second career hat trick. 6-3 Ducks.
Ilya Bryzgalov yielded a total of six goals in the previous four games. Tonight – six goals in less than an hour. Well, after all, it is only a game.
Scottie Upshall added one more for Phoenix at 14:03, but that was as close as the Coyotes would get.
“We’ve been fighting the puck, all three of us,” said Ryan of himself and linemates Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. “We haven’t been getting through the neutral zone and haven’t gotten the offensive zone time we need. Hopefully it’s a ball that starts rolling for us because we need to be productive every night.”
Ryan’s line had 10 points on the evening, certainly making up for their performance the previous evening, which Getzlaf had described as “awful.”
“I’d say our penalty killing bailed us out,” said coach Randy Carlyle, whose team killed 5 of 6 penalties. “And our big guys that get paid all the money scored some goals for us.”
They need to keep scoring goals if they want to have more than a single victory in the past seven games.
Next up is Los Angeles on Monday. At one point the Kings were on top of the entire NHL. Now the Ducks and Kings are just one point apart in the standings and seeming to have more than two points on the line in the upcoming game.
In other notes: Teemu Selanne missed his third game with a groin strain and Lubomir Visnovsky joined him on the sidelines with back spasms. Joffrey Lupul, who has not played a game since December 2009, was sent to Syracuse on a conditioning assignment and played with the AHL team this evening. When finished with his conditioning stint, Lupul should be ready to rejoin the Ducks line-up.