The Ducks had no choice but to get a win in Colorado if they wanted to remain in the playoff race. The Western Conference refuses to unclump itself, so the only thing you can do is keep winning games to keep pace. A 6-2 victory over Colorado moved the Ducks up one single solitary notch in the standings, but they could bump right back down depending on the results of Saturday’s games.
“We can’t afford to miss points when everybody else is winning around us,” said coach Randy Carlyle. “That’s the situation we’re in. We can’t afford to give up points at this point of the season.”
Nothing is going to be easy for Anaheim in the remaining 14 games. Nothing.
Colorado has not done much in the winning department lately, now losing seven straight, but that makes them all the more dangerous. They were exceptionally dangerous in the first period.
The Ducks were only behind 1-0 after the first period, but they could have been down by at least two more goals.
Francois Beauchemin swiped away a puck from the crease midway through the first, coming to Dan Ellis’ rescue. Ryan O’Reilly finally got a puck through at 19:16, taking advantage of a turnover off a Ducks’ skate. He nearly added a second goal :14 seconds later on a mishandled puck by Ellis.
Knowing they needed to change things, the Ducks came out strong in the second period.
“We came out in the second and played our style game,” said Corey Perry, who had the game winning goal.
It was Saku Koivu who got the scoring started for Anaheim :34 seconds into the middle frame. A power play goal from Ryan Getzlaf at 3:26 gave the Ducks their first lead.
While 4 on 4, David Jones tied up the game again at 4:52, but Perry returned the lead to Anaheim just :28 seconds later.
The Ducks started to pull away thanks to a great play by Brandon McMillan. McMillan and Dan Sexton had a 2 on 1 and McMillan patiently timed his pass right through Milan Hejduk’s legs, placing it perfectly for Sexton to tap in behind Brian Elliott.
Bobby Ryan deflected another one of Lubomir Visnovsky’s shots that seem to have a heat seeking missile trained for the net at 10:00 exactly in the third period. That gave the Ducks a bit of a cushion and Ducks fans got free wings from Hooters for the second game in a row.
The icing on the cake was a goal from Brad Winchester at 12:13, his first in a Ducks uniform. The Ducks did not face much opposition after that and hung on to win the game.
“These are all must-wins for us,” Getzlaf stated.
With eight of the final 14 games against Pacific Division opponents, must win is an understatement. Cannot afford to lose a single point would be a better description.
Phoenix is the next team up on Sunday, and even though the clocks change on Sunday morning, the Ducks better be awake from the very first shift of the game. You might be able to get away with taking an opponent lightly against a team that is struggling for any victories, but you cannot do that against a team that has a playoff berth.
Every game from here on out is a playoff game seven situation. If nothing else, it will be good preparation for the team if they do manage to sneak into a final playoff spot, but there is still a long, long way to go until April.