The Ducks got the privilege of starting off a seven game road trip against a cranky Washington Capitals team who are struggling of late. The Capitals had lost six in a row prior to taking on Anaheim, including a 7-0 blowout at the hands of the New York Rangers on Sunday. Anaheim was well aware that Washington wanted to right their listing ship and did not care who the opponent was.
Despite their efforts, Anaheim stuck in there with very good goaltending from Jonas Hiller, who made 31 saves, and a little bit of luck coupled with perseverence. They were rewarded with a 2-1 overtime win and two points to start the road trip on the right foot.
The Ducks were not at their best in the first period and were outshot 17 – 7 by the Capitals. All the Capitals had to show for their efforts was a 1-0 lead going into the second.
Brooks Laich got a rebound behind Hiller at 14:22, the only puck that made it across the line. Laich could have made it 2-0 just a few minutes later as his shot managed to get between Hiller’s legs. Ryan Getzlaf made it to the crease just in time to clear the puck before it could cross the line.
“We won’t be able to win any games if we play like we did in the first period,” commented coach Randy Carlyle, who was clearly relieved that his team did not play like that for the rest of the game.
In the second period Washington had several opportunities to further their lead. Alexander Ovechkin got a breakaway and clanged the puck off the post. Later, there was a beautiful tic tac toe play that should have been in the net. Instead, Hiller got a piece of Nicklas Backstrom’s puck that got behind him, managing to again keep it from crossing the line.
“Our goaltender gave us a chance,” said Carlyle. “He did more than his fair share of that.”
The Ducks were able to get back into the game on a power play goal from Joffrey Lupul at 12:47 of the middle period. Once the Ducks got even, they knew they had a chance and that was all the momentum that they needed to carry them through the rest of the game.
Things remained even through regulation, sending the game to overtime, something the Ducks have seen plenty of lately. Rather than wait for a shootout, Getzlaf finished the game with just :56.6 seconds remaining.
“We’d like to see him shoot the puck a lot more,” Carlyle stated.
Whether it was playing “back-up” to Hiller or scoring the game winner, either way, Getzlaf’s contributions were huge.
Now the Ducks can take the win into tomorrow night’s game against the New York Islanders. Sort of a scenario from one extreme to the other. While the Capitals have high expectations to be a potential Stanley Cup winner this season and are still in second place in the Eastern Conference, despite a seven-game losing streak, the Islanders are at the bottom of everyone. They have only five wins this season and continue to struggle.
The danger for the Ducks is not going for the jugular when they play their second of back to back games and keeping their game elevated, regardless of their opponent. This is something they have struggled with mightily over the years. Time to figure it out and add two more points to their total and two points closer to their goal of reaching the playoffs once again.