Losing six games in a row sure makes you hunger for win. Any kind of a win. As Corey Perry stated after the Ducks 4-3 victory (barely) over the Vancouver Canucks, it was ugly, but they’ll take it.
The Canucks had played the Kings the night before. Theoretically they should have been the tired team. Yeah. Like that was the case when the Ducks played a “tired” Nashville team on Wednesday.
Roberto Luongo got the nod in goal for the second night in a row. Perhaps it was to appease all the Canadian fans who seem to enjoy any excuse to come to California during hockey season.
On this Veteran’s Day, the Ducks saluted the military in a number of ways. They handed out flags, gave discounted tickets to military personnel, gave free Wild Winger Kid’s Club Kits to children of military personnel, had real army guys rappel from the roof of the Honda Center, and gave three houses (yes, brand new homes) to three veterans who had been wounded while serving their country.
The Ducks mission was merely to play well and not embarrass themselves.
The first period was definitely better than other periods of late and rather than giving up a goal early, the Ducks and Canucks were tied at 0-0 by the end of the first 20 minutes. The Ducks had their chances, but could not convert on them.
Anaheim took the positives of the first period into the second period and opened with a bang. Saku Koivu got the scoring started just :25 seconds in. Seven minutes later, he nearly had his second goal of the game, but Luongo made another great stop.
The momentum really shifted in the Ducks direction when Aaron Rome took an ill-advised major penalty midway through the period. Elbowing Devante Smith-Pelly in the head, Rome was handed a game misconduct as well. Smith-Pelly got an ice pack, but was no worse for the wear.
The Ducks took advantage of the extended power play time, with Andrew Cogliano scoring at 12:45. Corey Perry added another power play goal at 15:23. Standing in front of the net (something the Ducks did not do enough of) Perry got the puck up and over Luongo.
A couple minutes later, Peter Holland got his first NHL goal at 17:22, that ended up being the game winner. Holland has had an interesting time since being called up to Anaheim. He had his NHL debut in a horrid game against the Red Wings on Saturday and then had his first NHL point taken away due to a scoring change on Wednesday. Tonight, there was no question he’ll remember this moment, and it was worth remembering.
“I don’t think I could feel my legs when it went in the net,” Holland said after the game. “It was pretty cool. I kind of decided that I want to do that again. It was pretty special and something I will never forget. To score it on Luongo, one of the best goalies in the league, that adds to it as well.”
Ducks fans, a little starved for goals and good games, also got a little greedy. Chanting “we want wings,” they yearned for goal number five so they could go to Hooters.
Forget wings, the Ducks needed a WIN.
Going into the third period, ahead 4-0, and tied in shots on goal at 19 apiece, you would have thought it would be smooth sailing in the final 20 minutes. Right? Wrong!
Apparently Luongo had enough and Corey Schneider was put in net. Schneider got about as much work as when he had been sitting on the bench for the first two periods. Maybe less.
In period three it was all Vancouver. All in the Ducks zone for the majority of the period.
First Kevin Bieksa ended Jonas Hiller’s hopes for a shutout at 4:32 with a power play goal. Then Jannik Hansen tapped in Daniel Sedin’s shot at 9:12.
Time out Anaheim to settle down. It did not help. Vancouver continued circling the Ducks net like sharks that smelled blood. Canadian fans were sensing that the tide was turning as well. They were right.
Hansen got his second goal of the game at 13:04, taking a puck that was lying loose in the crease and finishing it off behind Hiller.
Can you say nail biter?
Schneider exited the net with a minute left in the game and then Perry took a late slashing penalty to give the Canucks a 6 on 4 power play. Really? Did Ducks fans need a heart attack?
A huge clear with ten seconds left provided some relief and the Ducks hung on despite being outshot 22 to 2 in the period. Forget playing with fire. The Ducks were lighting the matches themselves and nearly got burned.
But a win is a win, and Anaheim will take it.
“It was pretty tense in some situations there and everything was going against us,” said coach Randy Carlyle. “You could see the ice was tilted and they were winning all the battles. Jonas Hiller stood tall and was a wall in the net. We got the two points and we’ll move forward.”
Forward march to Sunday, when the Ducks take on the Minnesota Wild.