A victory for the Ducks over the Canadiens was an itsy bitsy teeny weeny baby step for Anaheim. After seven losses in a row, the Ducks desperately needed a victory to keep any semblance of morale amongst the team. They got the boost they needed against Montreal and hopefully the momentum they need to put Nightmare November (or Miserable Movember) behind them and delve into a (God willing) Delightful December.
The Canadiens scored first, which has been the kiss of death for Anaheim. Their record for the season when the opposition nets the first one? 0-10. That is right folks. If the other team scored first, your chances were excellent that you could turn off the tv at that point or just exit the building and avoid the traffic going home, because nothing was going to change.
On Wednesday night, the Ducks finally did the improbable. They overcame the initial deficit and went on to win.
Teemu Selanne was the culprit in the Canadiens first goal. Turning over the puck at the blue line, Tomas Plekanec happily took the gift and made the perfect pass to Andrei Kostitsyn. Kostitsyn said “thank you very much” and put it in the net behind Hiller at 3:10 of the first period.
The Ducks followed that up with some time in the penalty box. Never a good idea when you are already behind in the game.
Rather than continue to implode, the Ducks had some decent penalty killing, a few good saves by Hiller and with less than a minute to go in the period they tied up the game. Ryan Getzlaf broke a 14 game scoreless streak with a goal at 19:41. Just as Plekanec had executed the perfect pass to Kostitsyn, Corey Perry made an equally flawless pass to Getzlaf in front of the net.
How good did that feel for the Captain, who had been bearing the brunt of a lot of criticism of late for perceived lack of leadership?
“It is nice to get the monkey off his back and get him going again,” said Perry. “We need him to score big goals and he did that tonight.”
Apparently in a pact to make sure the penalty boxes remained warm and cozy with bodies, both teams continued to make sure the seats did not go vacant for long.
Devante Smith-Pelly gave the Ducks the lead on the power play at 6:26 of the middle frame. It was Smith-Pelly’s second goal of his career, first on the power play, and a bigger smile could not have been had from the 19 year old. Considering that his first goal had been a tip in off his knee that was not even credited until after the game ended, this goal felt more like the first time, and it could not have come at a better time.
In the third period, Perry added another power play tally at 2:55 to make it 3-1. You know Ducks fans were wondering what was going to go wrong at that point.
Nothing went wrong. In fact, it was the Canadiens who decided to parade into the penalty box rather than make a concerted effort to come back in the game.
The final joy for the Ducks was Niklas Hagman getting an empty net goal to seal the deal at 18:31. 4-1 Ducks and assured of a win at that point.
Maybe it was a good thing the Canadiens put Peter Budaj in goal instead of Carey Price. Maybe it was a good thing that Montreal struggled. But it was a better thing that the Ducks maintained their composure, stayed the course, and did not veer from it.
They needed a win. Something to build upon. Something to gain confidence from and take with them to the next game.
“It’s a frustrating thing,” said Getzlaf. “It’s one of those things where you’re working and working and working and not getting the results that you need. This is the first time I’d ever been through something like that. We’re going to take tonight and enjoy this one and get back to work.”
Back to work is tomorrow morning at practice in preparation for the next game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday. Can the Ducks make it two in a row after having won only one game in the previous 14? Can this truly be a righting of the ship?
Regardless, like those slot machines in Las Vegas, the way they keep coming back is by paying out from time to time. A win from the Ducks is like a payout that might keep you watching. Anaheim was beginning to look like a dud machine in a casino that was never going to give you any coins back. Ever. It was very satisfying to know that they aren’t quite dead yet. They got better.