The Ducks put on a good show for their fans in at the Honda Center in the final game of the regular season. However it was not good enough for a win, as they lost to the Coyotes, 5-3.
Anaheim outshot Phoenix 46 – 30, but Jason LaBarbera made sure that most of the pucks stayed out the net, making several amazing saves.
Viktor Fasth did not get nearly as much work, and looked a lot more pedestrian in net. Not a good sign going into the playoffs, but then again, Jonas Hiller is more than happy to start the first series against the Detroit Red Wings.
“I wanted to win," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "I wanted to get a good structured effort, and I think we had breakdowns in a lot of areas. The one thing we did get was effort. The opportunities to score were as many as we’ve had all year. We just didn’t put them in.”
The Ducks had plenty of chances to score early on, but after a barrage of pucks sent LaBarbera's direction proved futile, Phoenix was the first the land on the scoreboard. The first of Radim Vrbata's three goals came at 8:14 of the opening period and seemed to surprise Fasth.
Teemu Selanne tied up the game at 10:21, proving that LaBarbera was human after all. Selanne and his linemates, Patrick Maroon and Nick Bonino, were dangerous all night long, but Selanne's 675th goal was all they had to show for it on the scoreboard.
The Coyotes regained the lead when Kyle Chipchura's shot trickled through Fasth's legs at 17:36. Not a good goal to give up.
The game evened itself back up at the start of the second period. Still on a power play that started at the end of the first, Francois Beauchemin wasted no time making it 2-2 just :14 seconds into the middle frame.
The Coyotes held their own the remainder of the game. Vrbata put Phoenix ahead for the final time at 6:46, knocking in a big fat juicy rebound that Fasth left lying around. His shorthanded goal at 7:43 of the third pretty much sealed the deal for the desert dogs. An absence of Phoenix fans meant that only two hats fell to the ice to honor the hat trick.
Bobby Ryan, who had sat out the previous two games with the flu, brought Anaheim back within one goal at 9:33. That was as close as they came.
The empty netter by Antoine Vermette with 1.2 seconds remaining sent most of the building out the doors and to the parking lot.
"It was a fun night," said Selanne. "We lost, but I think we were still battling all the way through until the end. Overall, I think everybody's happy. Nobody got hurt and we move on to the real games."
Those "real games" are the playoffs. Ducks are moving on against Detroit next week. The Coyotes are just going home and packing up.
Let the real games begin!
In other notes: The "black aces" were called up from the AHL on Saturday. Called up were defensemen Mat Clark, Nate Guenin, Hampus Lindholm and Jordan Hendry. Forwards Max Friberg, Peter Holland and Harry Zolnierczyk were also recalled. Goaltender John Gibson rounds out the bunch. They will practice with the rest of the team during the duration of the playoffs and will add depth if necessary.