Nothing says satisfying like defeating the best team in the NHL and handing them only their fourth loss at home. The Ducks were satsfied after their 4-3 win over Vancouver that keeps them in the playoff hunt.
It was a busy Wednesday for the Ducks, who traded Joffrey Lupul, a prospect and draft pick to Toronto in exchange for Francois Beauchemin early in the day. Aaron Voros cleared waivers and was sent to Syracuse, which made room for the return of Ryan Getzlaf to the line up.
The Ducks got the strong start they needed in a building that has been difficult for virtually all teams visiting this season. Jason Blake scored just :56 seconds into the first period.
In the second period, Brandon McMillan and Bobby Ryan scored :46 seconds apart to make it 3-0. Dan Sexton made a well timed play getting the puck to McMillan, who put the puck in behind Cory Schneider at 3:26, not long after a Canucks penalty had expired.
The Ryan goal itself was not a thing of beauty, but the Getzlaf pass was! Getzlaf faked everyone out but his teammate, making the Canucks believe he was going to shoot the puck. The goalie went down, the defense prepared themselves and then Getzlaf spun around and sent a behind the back pass to Ryan who had no problem finishing the play.
Getzlaf, who missed nearly six weeks with fractured nasal passages and came back wearing a visor, clearly had less rust than would have been expected.
“I think he hadn’t missed a beat,” Ryan said. “There were a couple of shifts early where Getzy has to get his timing back. He missed a lot of hockey, but the on-ice intangibles, the plays that he makes and the passes that he feeds — like on (my) first goal. You can’t replace that. We’ll take our captain back, and (Perry) and I will certainly take our center back.”
To say the building was quiet after the third goal would be an understatement, but the Canucks showed their tenacity and skill and got back into the game.
On the only power play they had, Daniel Sedin put the Canucks on the board at 7:22. It was a wise thing to be disciplined against Vancouver, who will happily make you pay for your sins. Curtis McElhinney, who was in net again while Jonas Hiller recovers from fatigue and lightheadedness, saw his bid for a second shut out in a row end.
Early in the third period, Alex Burrows brought the Canucks back within one goal at 5:42. It was Burrows 100th career goal, but more importantly got the crowd back into the game.
Coach Randy Carlyle, sensing a momentum shift by the Canucks, took a wise time out for his team. His players responded on the next shift with Ryan’s second goal of the game at 6:10. Somehow it found it’s way in on the short side off the post.
Never say never for the Canucks, and their coach pulled Schneider with 2:16 left in the game, in the hopes that the Canucks could tie things up. They almost did.
Ryan Kesler scored with :20.2 seconds remaining, making the empty net that Corey Perry missed by a fraction of an inch that much more frustrating.
The Canuck storm did not let up until the final horn sounded and the Ducks hung on for the 4-3 win. McElhinney’s 35 stops were critical to the Ducks success.
The scariest part of the game came just after Ryan’s second goal. Dan Hamhuis was behind the Ducks net and Getzlaf hit him cleanly in the shoulder. Hamhuis, who had begun to turn to avoid the hit, was spun around, slammed into the glass and clearly unconscious when he fell to the ice limply. After a long period on the ice, Hamhuis was helped off by the trainer and teammates, but did not return to the game. There was no penalty called on Getzlaf and it was deemed a clean hit. Hopefully all is well with Hamhuis and he recovers quickly.
The Ducks now head to Calgary, where Beauchemin is expected to play with the team.