You have to feel sorry for the Calgary Flames. If nothing else, as a Ducks fan, you certainly have to empathize with them.
The Flames have come into the Honda Center 18 times now and 18 times the Ducks have won. This goes back to January 19, 2004. A decade of suffering in a building that seems impossible to win in, with the latest loss coming the day after Thanksgiving in a 5-2 drubbing.
Every time Anaheim visits the Joe Louis Arena, they get the same feeling. Four wins in 20 years. Calgary has had three wins in Anaheim.
It isn't as if the teams have rolled over and handed their opponent an easy victory. There is just something about the mojo in the building.
Regardless of who their opponent was, the Ducks were just happy for a victory after a 6-3 loss in Dallas on Tuesday night.
"We were in a position where we needed a good rebound game," said Ryan Getzlaf.
Rebound they did. The Ducks dominated for the majority of the game, outshooting the Flames 42-21.
Sami Vatanen got his third goal of the year at 12:20 of the first period to get the scoring started. The assists came from Andrew Cogliano and Saku Koivu, who was back on the ice for the first time since suffering a concussion more than a month ago.
"I felt physically pretty good," said Koivu, who ended up with two assists on the evening, rejuvenating the second line again. "You can only get into contact so much in practice. I felt fine. We have a second tough game Saturday, so hopefully things remain well."
The Ducks did not take much time to make it 2-0 with Corey Perry tipping in an easy shot from Ben Lovejoy at 13:14. The puck slipped through Swiss goalie Reto Berra's legs and into the net.
Dustin Penner got his first of two goals at 3:52 of the second period on the power play. Getzlaf shot the puck and Penner tucked it in behind a wide open Berra.
The problem with the Ducks dominating at one end, it left Frederik Andersen a little lonely at the other end with not much work to do. Sometimes it is easier to get in the zone when you are being shot at consistently.
Former Ducks defensive prospect, Ladislav Smid, put Calgary on the board at 5:51 with a puck that just barely snuck behind Andersen. Andersen had sprawled back, gloving the puck and tossing it out, but not before it crossed the blue line. It was a quick review to confirm the goal.
The Ducks regained the three goal lead with Cogliano's seventh of the season. He took the shot and took the hit into board as well, not even able to see the puck go in, but he knew it was good when the horn blew and the crowd cheered.
Calgary got a little life and finished off the period well. David Jones made it 4-2 at 12:17 after seeming to catch Andersen unprepared for a shot (it had been a while, who could blame him?) After that Calgary had a wee burst of energy and finished off the period strong and looking dangerous. It didn't last.
Penner's second of the game at 11:26 of the third period saw the end of Berra in net for Calgary. Kari Ramo came in relief, although by then the damage had been done and the game was over.
"Obviously, playing with Getzlaf and Perry, and the way we read off of each other, we’re opportunistic," said Penner, who has five goals in the past three games. "It’s not like I’ve been doing anything different. I still have the same mindset I’ve had the past two years. I’m getting more of an opportunity now."
Not much consolation for bitter Kings fans, who saw Penner score a total of 11 goals in 117 games. Penner has 9 in 21 for Anaheim.
"When you're a happy hockey player, you do things better than when you're not a happy hockey player," was coach Bruce Boudreau's assessment of Penner's success.
Clearly Anaheim is not just Teemu Selanne's happy place.
So now the Ducks head up to San Jose for the second of back to back games, currently tied with them for the Pacific Division lead.
"It’s going to let us know where we are in the next four games," said Boudreau. "San Jose, Los Angeles, Chicago and St. Louis are the top-four teams in the league. It’ll give us a real good barometer of where we’re at. In that sense, we’re looking forward to seeing where we’re at."