The last time the Ducks played in Anaheim it was February 8 and they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime. Two weeks later, the Ducks finished off their long eight game road trip in Carolina. This time they defeated the Hurricanes 3-2 in a shootout.
Now the tired Duckies can come home, satisfied at earning a 5-1-2 record during their grueling trek around the US. It gives them 62 points in the standings, only four points out of a playoff spot.
“If we could reach the 60-point plateau, I thought we could still be in the hunt,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “To get more than that is really big.”
Anaheim earned every point and did it by playing very good teams. They had a chance to win every single game, which is quite impressive.
When the Ducks faced Carolina earlier this month, Cam Ward was in net. This time they got to see Justin Peters holding down the fort because Ward has a “lower body injury.” Peters was just as formidable in net, making 35 saves, and making it difficult for the Ducks to score.
Jerome Samson put Carolina on the board first at 13:52 of the first period. Once again, the Ducks would have to come from behind. They evened things up quickly at 14:40 with a goal from Luca Sbisa, his fourth of the season.
In the second period, Jamie McBain restored the Hurricanes lead with a power play goal at 5:40. Carolina held on to that lead until the third period.
Jonas Hiller held Carolina to just the one goal lead, giving his teammates a chance to tie things up once again.
“I kind of saw we weren’t playing our game tonight and the guys looked a little tired,” said Hiller. “That was not too surprising after such a long trip. (Carolina) had a couple of really good chances and I just didn’t want to get scored on. We played better in the third and that changed the game around.”
The Ducks finally were able to tie up the game midway through the final period. Corey Perry got his 30th goal of the year at 9:35 on the power play. This was despite his coach’s lack of confidence in his team with the man advantage.
“Our power play has been so dismal,” said Boudreau. “So for the third power play in the third period, I said, ‘Decline it.’ Perry looked at me as if I had two heads. Then he went out and scored because I think he was so (ticked) at me. But that was the first power play goal we got outside of Columbus on this trip.”
Being tied meant they got at least a point. Nothing was decided in the extra time, so the Ducks had to stay a little longer to finish it up in the shootout.
Saku Koivu was the only successful shooter for the Ducks. Hiller was able to stop every single Carolina shooter, so the Ducks came away the victors with two more points to send them home happy campers. Tired campers. But happy campers.
The Ducks only get to play one game at home (Sunday against Chicago) before heading back to the airport for another road game in Colorado. Then they can settle into their beds a little better and buckle down for the remaining 21 games.
Will they make the playoffs? Who knows? But they are certainly in better position than they were just a short time ago.