The Ducks came about as close as they could get to a rare win at the Joe Louis Arena on Friday night. The Red Wings hung on and prevailed 2-1 in a shootout. It has been four years since their last regular season win in Detroit but getting a point for their efforts was almost as rewarding as getting two points. Almost.
The last time the Ducks played in Detroit it was November. Detroit won, handily, and they have not lost at home since then. 19 games and counting.
Too bad Anaheim did not pull off the miracle victory to ruin their streak.
It sure started off miraculous. The Red Wings have been without their All Star goaltender, Jimmy Howard, who is out with a broken finger. Instead of Ty Conklin, who was supposed to be back up, Joey MacDonald has won the starting post and Conklin is still warming the bench during games. Surely the Ducks would have better luck getting pucks past the third string guy?
George Parros scored his first goal of the season with a tip in at 16:17 of the first period. That clearly qualifies as miraculous, since Parros has not scored since December 2010. And the Ducks actually had a 1-0 lead, in Detroit.
So much for miracles. With plenty of traffic in front of Jonas Hiller, Justin Abdelkader got a little touch on the puck to redirect it behind him at 18:42.
The 1-1 score stayed the same for the remainder of the game.
Power plays? Plenty of them, but the Ducks could not get anything in the net. They hit posts, they narrowly missed wide open nets, but nothing on seven opportunities.
“We think we deserved a better fate,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “But when you go 0 for 7 on the power play, even if you get three-four good looks, you don’t expect to win.”
The Red Wings met a similar fate at the other end of the ice, so the game had to go to overtime. Maybe with 4 on 4 hockey there would be more room, more chances? Heck, with penalties called, there was 3 on 3 hockey.
Cam Fowler came oh so very very close to getting the Ducks the extra point at 3:20 of overtime. Gaping net. Sprawling MacDonald. Puck hit the goal post.
The Ducks’ Cam Fowler hit the goal post on a breakaway with 1:40 left in overtime and the teams playing three on three.
“I’m not sure if he [MacDonald] got his glove on it but I saw it hit the post,” said Fowler, still in disbelief that the puck did not go in. “It would have been such a great goal to score.”
Instead, the game continued and went to a shootout. You would think that Hiller, who has much more experience in the shootout than MacDonald, would have the better chance at prevailing. That was not the case.
Neither goaltender could stop Pavel Datsyuk or Teemu Selanne. But Todd Bertuzzi was the deciding factor in the third round. Bertuzzi, who skated with the speed of a little old lady driving in the slow lane, found his quick reflexes again right in front of Hiller, who could not stop the shot.
“Eighteen straight and you’re in a shootout and you know you have three shooters [to face],” pondered MacDonald after the game. “We scored. Datsyuk got a nice one and when Bertuzzi got that one, it put a little more pressure on me. I didn’t want to go into any extra shooters. I just tried to stay out and stay big and made the save.”
Bobby Ryan was denied on the final attempt by Anaheim and the game was over. Two points Detroit. Their streak continues and Anaheim continues their winless streak in Detroit.
Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. In hockey games, the final score is all that matters.
The Ducks now head to Columbus for game two of an eight game road trip. One point at a time won’t get them anywhere but a great pick at the draft in June. They have to have two points on Sunday.