The Ducks knew they needed to bounce back from an ugly 6-2 loss to Phoenix on Saturday night. (It was so ugly, it did not even mention a game recap.) Fortunately there was a quick turnaround for redemption with a game against Edmonton on Sunday.
Curtis McElhinney, who had to come in relief of Jonas Hiller on Saturday, got the start on Sunday. While an infrequent visitor in Anaheim’s crease, McElhinney performed admirably, stopping 23 shots and taking a 2:53 break for stitches in his neck.
Midway through the second period, McElhinney was cut on the neck by Maxim Lapierre’s skate. Referees determined that although it was not a bad cut, it did require stitches and not just a butterfly bandage. McElhinney reluctantly went to the locker room where the doctor immediately took care of the wound and Hiller took care of the netminding in the meantime. Hiller stopped three shots in 2:53 of ice time before McElhinney strode back on the ice and resumed his position in net.
“It was one of those things where I knew I would go back out there as soon as I got stitched up, so it wasn’t that bad,” said McElhinney. “I went to cover the puck and I just kind of fell on the heel of somebody’s skate, I believe. I knew I was cut open but it didn’t feel that bad. As soon as I saw the blood I thought I would just go get it checked out on the bench.”
The Ducks helped out McElhinney by scoring three goals, a cushion they needed to win the game.
Luca Sbisa got his second of the year at 9:23 of the first period on a power play that continues to be blistering hot.
“We’re keeping it simple,” Sbisa commented about why the power play is 9 for 18 in the past five games.
Teemu Selanne, the ageless wonder, got his 1300th career point (and 1301) with two goals. The first, at 17:00 of the first period, was his 13th goal of the year and his 1300th point. Nikolai Khabibulin stopped Lubomir Visnovsky’s shot, but then placed the puck directly on Selanne’s stick. That was easy. The second, at 17:32 of the second, was yet another power play goal to add to his tally and a beautifully placed tip in of Visnovsky’s shot.
It was a good thing that the Ducks scored three goals. Late in the second period, after McElhinney had returned to net, the Oilers decided to take advantage of Ducks mistakes.
McElhinney was unable to control a big fat juicy rebound from Sam Gagner and like Khabibulin, directed the puck inadvertantly to the wrong team. Magnus Paajarvi said thank you very much and put the puck in the net at 18:18. :26 seconds later Gagner took advantage of a turnover, making the score 3-2.
The third period was nothing less than nerve-wracking. Giving the Oilers a 5 on 3 opportunity with less than two minutes to play was not the wisest thing for the Ducks to do. With Khabibulin out of the net, it was a 6 on 3 that became a 6 on 2 when Saku Koivu broke his stick on the face off and had to go to the bench for a new one.
Somehow the Ducks squeaked by and McElhinney stood strong stopping the Oilers from tying up the game.
“We thought this was going to be easy, but there are no easy games in this league,” said Selanne. “Third period they were much better. We had a goalie that stopped everything. Without him this would be ugly.”
The Ducks now take the show on the road for four games before the All Star break. One thing they will have to do to be successful is play a full 60 minutes.
“If you can’t play 60 minutes of solid hockey, you are going to be having some problems,” Selanne wisely counseled.
“And it showed again tonight.”
In other notes: TV play by play announcer, Brian Hayward, worked his 1,000th regular season game this evening. Hayward has been with the Ducks since their inception in 1993, including some time as goaltending consultant. Hayward was recognized by the team in a pre-game ceremony before rushing back up to the TV booth to work.