After playing the night before and being shutout against Vancouver, the Ducks turned things around and got a 3-2 shootout win over Nashville on Saturday night.
The difference between Friday and Saturday's games was night and day. Jonas Hiller, who has let in 12 goals in the first three games, including five on Friday night, was given the evening off. Time to see what Viktor Fasth could do in the net.
Fasth, making his NHL debut, had the benefit of a much more disciplined Ducks team and made 19 saves, including all three in the shootout to earn his first ever win in his first start. But at 30 years old and two-time goaltender of the year in the Swedish Elite league, this guy is no rookie.
Nonetheless, the NHL was always the goal.
"I've been waiting for this moment for 30 years," Fasth said in a post-game interview. "I feel great."
Nashville, who is used to dominating the Ducks in recent history, probably does not feel as good.
The Predators got off to a good start, with Brandon Yip taking advantage of a mishandle by Bryan Allen at the blue line. Make that 1-0 at just 1:52 in. Not a very auspicious beginning, but the Ducks recovered.
Most importantly for Anaheim was the discipline. They realized that staying out of the penalty box was a good idea. Seeing as how nearly every penalty came back to bite them against Vancouver, they made the right choice.
"I just tried to do my job," said Fasth. "The guys in front of me played incredibly good today. They helped me a lot out there, so they made it easy for me. They did a really good job today."
Bobby Ryan got his first of the year to tie up the game at 19:27 of the second period. He tipped in Teemu Selanne's shot past Pekke Rinne and breathed a sigh of relief. One down, at least 29 to go if he wants to score 30 or more goals for the fifth season in a row.
In the third period, David Legwand put Nashville back ahead at 10:09. The Ducks did not waste much time in pulling even again.
Daniel Winnik got his fifth of the season at 11:12. He is the first Duck to have five goals in the first four games of the season. Yes, that is better than even Selanne and his former linemates Paul Kariya and Steve Rucchin or more recently Joffrey Lupul. They only managed four goals in the same time frame. At this rate, the Ducks win when Winnik scores.
After a lively four on four overtime, the Ducks faced their first shootout of the year. Anaheim sent out the usual suspects in Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Selanne. Only Perry got the puck past Rinne, but it was enough for the victory.
Fasth stopped Martin Erat, who pinged his shot off the crossbar, and Mike Fisher. If he could stop Legwand, the Ducks would win, and Fasth made a beauty of a glove save with a quick one-two snatch of the puck.
When asked how he felt in the shootout, knowing that final stop would give Anaheim the win, Fasth very confidently said, "that's why I want to be a goalie."
Clearly the man loves the pressure that comes with the position. His coach, Bruce Boudreau, claims to never have wanted that job, but did have praise for Fasth.
"He’s just as calm as a cucumber. That’s the demeanor that they have to have to be successful. Even in the shootout, he was pretty relaxed and made two really big saves. That’s good. It was a great debut for him and hopefully he’ll keep it up."
Will he get to continue in net on Tuesday against the undefeated San Jose Sharks? To be determined, but if Fasth is able to keep up this good play, Hiller has some healthy competition and the Ducks will be doing well.
In other notes: The Ducks sent defenseman Jordan Hendry and center Peter Holland down to Norfolk. Hendry played in the first game of the year when Cam Fowler was out ill. He has not played since. Holland saw one game, the one against Vancouver, and apparently that was enough for Ducks management. Flying west are defenseman Sami Vatanen and winger Emerson Etem. It is unknown if either of them will be see on Tuesday against San Jose.