If nothing else, the final 10 games of the season will be good preparation for the playoffs that, God willing, the Ducks will be in this year. For better or for worse, with errors or with extra spark, the Ducks are learning, sometimes the hard way, what it will take to get to the post season.
A 5-4 overtime victory of the Calgary Flames was two points the Ducks had to have. They could have had them without giving an extra point to Calgary, but again, that is part of the learning curve. And something the team will need to correct before April rolls around.
The Ducks scored three goals on their first five shots, chasing Miikka Kiprusoff out of the net. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Francois Beauchemin had the game at 3-0 by 5:49 of the first period. Great start. Bad follow up.
Calgary proceeded to scoe the next four goals while Anaheim remained stalled. Tom Kostopoulos scored two, Rene Bourque added another, and Jarome Iginla gave the Flames the lead on the power play at 7:10 of the third period.
Never fear when you have a late power play and some 40 year old dude is on your team. Teemu Selanne added yet another power play goal to his totals (tying him with Dino Ciccarelli for 8th all time in power play goals). The goal tied up the game at 17:59 and the Honda Center fans went insane.
Dan Ellis made 37 saves to help the Ducks get their two points.
The most important part was overtime. When shootout wins are disregarded when it comes to tie breakers, you want to finish it off while the clock is still ticking.
Bobby Ryan had another penalty shot chance in overtime, his second this season. He could not convert, but Perry got his second of the game on the next shift, deflecting a wickedly hard shot by Toni Lydman.
Game over and the Ducks moved back into 8th place (for at least 24 hours) and could breathe a sigh of relief.
“I’d like to see that we don’t put ourselves in that situation that many times,” Selanne observed after the game. “After all, it doesn’t really matter how you’re going to win the game. You need those two points. Every point is so critical right now.”
Nonetheless, the Ducks will fare much better if they do not put themselves in a situation of having to come back.
The next three are on the road with Dallas, Nashville and Chicago. They are tied in points with Dallas, and one away from both Nashville and Chicago.
Same advice as before – MUST WIN! There are no other options. Not in this playoff race where a mere five points separates fourth and tenth place. If you have any fingernails left by the end of the season, consider yourself fortunate.
Then again, as Selanne said, “it’s exciting.”
Enough excitement already. Just win.