Two bad losses and the Ducks needed a road trip to turn things around. OK, the ship is still not straight, but it is veering closer to the right direction after a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Gaining a point in the loss was certainly a vast improvement over zero points and pulling Jonas Hiller from net because he looked, to be quite honest, awful.
Some morning discussions with coach Randy Carlyle with both the defense and the forwards, maybe helped shed some light on the situation for everyone involved. The efforts on Tuesday night while not stellar, were clearly a positive step for Anaheim.
Hiller rebounded in net, even though there was a question if Dan Ellis would start the road trip in goal. His calm, steadying efforts in the 5-4 loss to Phoenix on Sunday certainly boosted his stock with the team. Instead, Carlyle went with Hiller, giving him a chance to redeem himself.
He did, with a 33 save performance, at least two of which made the difference in the Ducks gaining a point or going goose egg for three in a row.
The Ducks got a rare power play goal from Ryan Getzlaf at :58 seconds of the second period. Getzlaf, who seems to prefer to pass rather than shoot, has taken a new approach lately. Shoot it. It seems to be working, as he has three goals in the past two games.
The Blackhawks, who were one of the least penalized teams in the NHL, gave the Ducks plenty of power play opportunities, but that was the only one that Anaheim could convert on. Perhaps Chicago saw their power play statistics (11.4%, 25th in the league) and figured if they were going to take penalties, this was the game to do it.
While the Blackhawks did not have to worry too much about being down a man, neither did the Ducks, whose penalty killing has been very good at 90.6%, 6th overall.
Although the Ducks took the lead, Marian Hossa continued his hot streak and got his fifth of the year at 10:16 to even things up. Patrick Kane made an amazing spinning move to pass the puck, while being draped with a Ducks defenseman. Kane still got the puck to Hossa, who merely had to tip it in the net.
Ageless wonder, Teemu Selanne, gave the Ducks the lead once more with a classic move at 16:22. You knew it was going in the net behind Corey Crawford. Crawford probably knew it was going in the net. #640 of Selanne’s career and it was a beauty.
Patrick Sharp tied up the game at 5:57 of the third period and the Blackhawks did their best to win things in regulation. Point blank spectacular saves on Michael Frolik and Hossa kept the Ducks in the game. Hossa once more gave Ducks fans a heart attack as his shot hit the post behind Hiller with just :01 second left in regulation.
The Ducks have fared well in shootouts, but Crawford bested Hiller in this one, stopping Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Only Selanne got his shot through. Hiller could not stop Jonathan Toews, and Kane’s shot went right through the five hole to give Chicago the extra point and bragging rights.
Carlyle was unable to win game #500 of his coaching career with Anaheim, which also began in Chicago.
Next stop for the Ducks – Minnesota on Thursday.
In other notes: Patrick Maroon played in his first NHL game alongside Perry and Getzlaf on the top line. Devante Smith-Pelly was scratched with the flu.