Losing two in a row in regulation, the Ducks had to win against Calgary. Win in regulation? Even more important.
Anaheim knew they needed both points and could not afford to give up a point to the Flames, who they are chasing in the standings. They accomplished their goal, but it was close.
Calgary, who had played the night before in Phoenix, recalled Leland Irving from their minor league team. Leland who? The 23 year old rookie netminder started in just his sixth NHL game instead of veteran Miikka Kiprusoff. Irving is much easier to spell, but he was not much easier to get a goal past. He made 35 saves, keeping the Flames in it.
The Ducks did not start off their “must win” game very well. They took two penalties early on, including too many men on the ice. Bad plan.
Calgary converted. Curtis Glencross, who played two games for the Ducks, extended his goal scoring streak to three games by trickling the puck past Jonas Hiller at 3:06. 1-0 Flames and once again the Ducks gave up the first goal.
Anaheim tied up the game a few minutes later. Teemu Selanne patiently waited for just the right moment to pass to Bobby Ryan. Ryan had no difficulties beating Irving at 5:58.
After a goal from each side, it was time for a couple of fights. Luca Sbisa squared off with Tom Kostopoulos and three minutes later, it was a rematch between Francois Beauchemin and Jarome Iginla. Beauchemin and Iginla faced each other during the 2006 playoffs, where Beauchemin surprised Iginla by being a lefty. Iginla knew what he was getting into this time and it was a decent fight.
In the second period, Corey Perry broke the tie at 7:41. Irving was focused on Ryan Getzlaf and could not move in time when Getzlaf passed instead of shooting. It was a good decision and Perry made it look easy.
The Flames, despite being outshot, were not about to give up. Alex Tanguay tied up the game once more at 4:27 of the third period and it remained that way until late.
Sure, getting a point out of the game would be nice, but getting two in regulation would be even better. With less than a minute left, the Ducks managed to secure the win and continue Calgary’s losing streak at the Honda Center. (They have last won in Anaheim on January 19, 2004. Sort of like how the Ducks feel every time they visit Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.)
Ryan Getzlaf, who had not scored in 17 games, finally put one in the net. With roles reversed, Perry got the puck to Getzlaf who actually shot it. Even better – it went in the net behind Irving. 3-2 Ducks with only :46 seconds remaining in the game.
Even with Irving having vacated the net, the Flames were unable to get another one past Hiller.
“It was an emotional one,” Getzlaf said. “That’s a big win for our group. We’ve got half the battle won this weekend. Tonight’s an emotional one and we’ve got to enjoy it right now and get ready for the next one.”
How long could they enjoy it?
“About eight more minutes,” said Getzlaf.
The next one comes quickly. They head up the freeway to play the Los Angeles Kings in another must win game that cannot afford to go to overtime.