For the Ducks, any win means two points. A win against the Detroit Red Wings is two points and extra satisfaction.
The Ducks were supremely satisfied with their 2-1 overtime win that came on a successful penalty shot by Bobby Ryan. Red Wings fans in attendance were much less pleased.
Detroit had all the opportunities they could fathom to make the game against Anaheim resemble the 7-4 drubbing against the Kings on Monday. Handed nine power plays, and a long 5 on 3 chance, Detroit only capitalized on one advantage.
Pavel Datsyuk broke the scoreless tie at 5:10 of the second period. The rest of the way, the penalty killers for the Ducks were exceptional.
The nearly two minute 5 on 3 in the first period yielded zero shots on goal for Detroit and gave the Ducks the encouragement they needed to persevere.
The Ducks had chances of their own, but Jimmy Howard was strong in net.
Jason Blake finally put a puck past Howard at 1:54 of the third period and the Ducks took things to overtime. Barely. The inability to count led to the ninth penalty of the evening with too many men on the ice with just :12.6 seconds remaining.
Thank goodness for Dan Ellis, who stopped 28 shots on goal and seems to have finally figured out how the ice and boards work in Anaheim. To say that Ellis has stepped up would be an understatement. Used to a back up role while in Tampa Bay, Ellis is now getting back into the groove of playing every night.
“He stole a game for us,” was Ryan’s assessment of the new netminder.
The Ducks managed to kill their final penalty and midway through the overtime session Ruslan Salei pulled down Ryan on a terrific scoring chance. The refs awarded a penalty shot and Bobby made it look easy.
“That shot seemed to work for me in the last couple of shoot outs,” Ryan said. “(Howard) is a different kind of goalie. He challenges and he gets those legs back. He goes off to the side pretty well. There wasn’t any other game plan if that didn’t work out, he was making the save. I just tried to close my eyes and put it in the right place.”
It was in the right place. The net. Game over, two points and in the words of Ryan, who now has 30 goals, “a lot of Red Wings fans leaving unhappy.”
The Ducks have not won a single game when trailing at the end of the second period. So not only did the Ducks get a win, they defeated some pretty steep odds against a tough opponent.
“Every win right now is key going into the final stretch,” Ellis said. “Especially with a team like Detroit. With the firepower they have and with the record they have on the road. I don’t think they have lost in the past six games on the road. We had to find our best game and I think we did tonight. We played a very solid 60-plus minutes and I think it showed by getting the win.”
The Ducks, who started to take baby steps forward in their last game against Colorado, took a huge step forward with the victory over Detroit. The home stand continues against Dallas, Vancouver, and the New York Rangers and the Ducks need every single point they can muster.
Sitting in 9th place in the Western Conference, they are only one point behind both Los Angeles and Dallas. Stringing together a few more wins might go a long way to making it into the top eight. Staying there is another matter.
In other news: Saku Koivu missed his fourth game with a groin strain, although he is skating again. Corey Perry left practice early on Tuesday with a “lower body” injury, but was good enough to go in tonight’s affair. Jonas Hiller is still on the vertigo merry-go-round and waiting to get off. Positional vertigo has been ruled out and the cause is still undetermined.