The Ducks must feel like they are on a treadmill lately. They are not making any progress, so it seems, in the Western Conference standings, but have to keep winning just to stay in the same place. On the other hand, staying place is better than falling off and landing flat on your face.
Anaheim stayed with the rest of the pack after a 2-1 overtime defeat of the Los Angeles Kings, handing them their second loss in a row in their own building after having gone 4-0 on the road.
The Kings loss was the Ducks gain, and they desperately needed the two points after teams ahead of them got points of their own earlier in the day.
Ray Emery got his second start in a row after performing admirably in the 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. Emery has played just two games plus one period in relief of Dan Ellis and has a .972 save percentage and 0.86 goals against average. Not bad for a guy who was not sure he would ever play in the NHL ever again.
Emery made 31 saves on the evening and kept the Ducks in the game.
Brandon McMillan got his 10th goal of the year at 15:24 of the first period. McMillan took advantage of a loose puck and put it behind Jonathan Quick.
Quick, who was nearly as perfect as Emery at the other end, did not appear to be in a giving mood and the Ducks were challenged to get anything more by him.
For a while, it appeared as if the Ducks would be ok with just one goal in the playoff like game. The Kings had other ideas.
Los Angeles appeared to tie things up in the second period, but it was deemed that Alex Ponikarovsky interfered with Emery and a goal was waived off. In the third period, the Kings had one that could not be disputed.
After the Kings sixth power play had expired, Dustin Brown was waiting at the side of the net. Michal Handzus made the perfect pass to Brown, who put the puck in behind Emery. Emery had no chance on the shot and the game was tied.
Already exhibiting plenty of energy, the Kings tried to finish off Anaheim before regulation ended, but Emery would have none of that.
Going into the extra period, the Ducks took advantage of their opportunities. Anze Kopitar fell to the ice at one end and the Ducks had numbers going the other direction. Corey Perry made a great shot and even though Quick got a tiny piece of the puck, it made a beeline into the back of the net at 1:32.
Game over. Dejected Kings. Dejected Kings fans. Defeating their rivals at Staples Center? Priceless.
The Ducks get no time to revel in the win as they get right back to it at Honda Center on Sunday evening. Their opponent? The Calgary Flames, with whom they are tied in points in the standings. A win would bump them up a couple notches. A loss? With both Chicago and Nashville playing on Sunday as well, one does not want to think about the potential ramifications of a loss to the Flames. Falling off the treadmill and hitting the ground hard does come to mind.
But for now the Ducks are hanging in there.
They meet the Kings twice more to finish the season in back to back meetings. If you don’t think those games will be huge, you are deluding yourself. If they can duplicate the results from this evening, however, they will be ok.