Despite sitting out some of their top players to give them some much needed rest before the playoffs, the Ducks still kept rolling along and dominated the Vancouver Canucks 3-1. Anaheim got contribution from their depth players, a good sign heading into the post season.
Teemu Selanne? Out. Saku Koivu? Out. Bobby Ryan? Still stick from that icky stomach virus. Captain Ryan Getzlaf? Out. Luca Sbisa still is nursing a lower body injury. The old guys merely need rest after a compressed season of games. Even the not so young have extra aches and pains.
So in their place were some depth players and Patrick Maroon and Devante Smith-Pelly, who were called up from Norfolk to help out.
"I expect the other guys to be just as good as the guys sitting out," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "I tell them that, and whether they believe or not, that's my expectation. Whoever puts that sweater on, this is an opportunity for them."
It would be easy to discount the Ducks, playing in Vancouver's home arena on their fan appreciation day. The Ducks did not discount themselves and met up to their coach's expectations and ended up dominating the Canucks in their final road victory of the regular season.
Were it not for Roberto "my contract is too big for anyone to want to make a trade for me" Luongo, the score would have been much more than 3-1. Luongo was kept exceptionally busy as Anaheim outshot the Canucks 25-9 after the first two periods.
The Ducks finally solved Luongo with a power play goal at 6:44 of the second period from Matt Beleskey. It was an easy redirect of Cam Fowler's shot. Then at 8:21 Brad Staubitz, who has spent more than half the season as a healthy scratch, got his first goal of the year that ended up being the game winner.
"It was just nice to get one," said Staubitz, who only has 10 career goals in 230 games. "Good to get in a few games and being able to contribute is huge."
Luongo was pretty surprised that Staubitz' shot made it in the net. He was not happy about it, to say the least, but accepted the blame for it.
"I didn't read the release and it kind of handcuffed me a little bit but that's not an excuse," said Luongo. "I have to make that save 100 times out of 100."
Selanne, not known to enjoy sitting still, actually watched on from the equipment area in the third period. You could tell he was itching to be on the ice, but for now, he had to be content being the oldest stick boy ever.
Jonas Hiller finally saw some action in the third period, after having caught up reading the paper in the first two periods. The Canucks finally woke up and outshot the Ducks 20-5, as Anaheim sat back a little. It almost cost them.
The Canucks scored on a 5 on 3 at 16:42. Jason Garrison put the Canucks on the board and made the Ducks a little nervous for the remainder of the game.
They pulled Luongo to make it 6 on 4 in the final minute plus and came very close to tying the game. The penalty killers were exhausted and had nothing left in them, but Andrew Cogliano managed to lift the puck and finally send it soaring down the middle of the ice. It went in with less than :28 seconds remaining and was the insurance marker Anaheim needed.
The Ducks ended up with a road record of 14-5-5 (.688 win percentage), their best ever and their best since their Stanley Cup championship year. Even though the Ducks have home ice for at least the next two rounds, the ability to win on the road will come in handy during the post season.
Anaheim now has one final home game on Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes. They will not know who their first round opponent will be until Saturday evening, as the final spots are still up for grabs.
Also up for grabs is who gets to be in goal during the post season? Both Hiller and Viktor Fasth have virtually split the season with games, although Fasth holds the slight edge in his stats.
"We have two good goalies," said Boudreau. "I don't think (I) can screw it up by putting either one of them in net for the playoffs."
Not a bad situation to have.