Will the real Ducks please stand up?
With three wins in a row and about as many goals as hats falling to the ice, you have to wonder, where have these guys been? This is the team that should have been playing all along. Confident. Resilient.
At least they have finally shown up. There is still half a season left to be played. Granted, a 13-22-6 record that has the team 29th out of 30 in the NHL does not bode well for playoffs in the springtime. But if the Ducks continue to play well, winning more than losing, they can at least finish the season with their heads held high and dignity intact once again.
While wins over the New York Islanders (28th place) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (last place), are nothing to brag about, defeating Dallas 5-2, the first time this year, is definitive progress.
If the first two wins gave them confidence, this one should give them something to build on while going on a three game road trip to western Canada.
Getting 16 goals in three games, including two hat tricks in two games, feels like a breath of fresh air for a team that is still third lowest in goals for in the NHL. The ketchup is flowing.
Saku Koivu, who had his second career hat trick, summed up the changes to this formerly hapless Anaheim team.
“Right now the feeling in the room is different,” said Koivu. “Even if, three weeks ago, we didn’t win some games, there’s been a lot of good things, and we’ve been able to build on those things. Little by little, it’s been building and you can see that by our confidence.”
Koivu got the ball rolling at 1:30 of the first period and Luca Sbisa helped the Ducks take a two goal lead at 9:22 of the second period.
The Stars would not remain dormant forever. Steve Ott, who had been rallying his team all game long, got rewarded with a goal at 1:39 of the third period. Alex Goligoski tied things up just 1:04 later.
What would normally be an “uh oh” moment.
“A month, six weeks ago, I think we would have been done,” observed Koivu. (Heck a week or two ago….) “But now we were able to bounce back and got the third goal and then the fourth one, and those are huge goals and really brought the momentum back to our team.”
That third one came from Koivu, but the work was all Teemu Selanne. Playing in his 1300th NHL game, Selanne got the puck and a burst of speed and blew by the defense to head in towards Kari Lehtonen. Drawing more defenders, Koivu was left open and finished things off at 9:32.
Matt Beleskey, who had not scored all season, made it 4-2 at 14:43. To say he was ecstatic after the goal would be an understatement. The last goal he had scored came April 17, 2011 during the playoffs. During the regular season? Nearly a year – January 15, 2011. He was overdue.
The piece de resistance was an empty net goal for Koivu at 19:06, unselfishly handed to him by Selanne. Those fans who lost hats the game before due to Corey Perry’s hat trick, lost another one. Not one single person complained, including Selanne.
“There’s no way I would take the shot myself,” Selanne said. “I knew Saku had a chance to score a hat trick. I’m so happy for him. You don’t see that very often. Usually, he’s the passer.”
Jeff Deslauriers, who was called up from Syracuse, due to injuries to both Jonas Hiller and Dan Ellis, got his first NHL start since April 11, 2010. Ironically, it was against the Ducks while he was still playing for Edmonton.
The Ducks now face the second half of the season on a positive note.
Let’s keep it rolling, boys.