It's been a long road trip, and it is starting to show on the Ducks. Nonetheless, once they shook off their travel malaise (visiting their seventh city in 14 days will do that to you), they were able to handily defeat the Buffalo Sabres 6-3.
The Sabres are the worst team in the NHL (2-13-1) and can't seem to even buy a win, but that did not mean they rolled over for Anaheim. In fact, Anaheim might have been in more trouble early on if they were playing a team at the top of the standings.
"I think we got a little mad," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "We didn't play very well in the first period and then they scored the first goal. I think it was really important for us to lift our spirits and by getting (Ryan Getzlaf), being the leader that he is, coming right back and scoring the goal."
Cody Hodgson got Buffalo on the board at 7:15 of the second period after a scoreless first. Once again, the Ducks specialty teams continue to disappoint. The penalty kill is only 73.5%, second worst in the league, so that is something that needs to be cleaned up.
Fortunately the captain took matters into his own hands. Less than two and half minutes later, Getzlaf scored on Jhonas Enroth and the game was tied.
Getzlaf now has three goals and seven points in the past five games and continues to lead by example.
"It took us about a period," observed Getzlaf. "I'm happy with our effort after that first period, getting back in the hockey game and displaying the will to win."
Get back in the game they did, and then some.
Sami Vatanen became the first Ducks defenseman to score this season at 15:18 and Emerson Etem got his first of goals :34 seconds later to give the Ducks a 3-1 lead going into the third period.
Corey Perry continued the momentum into the third adding yet another goal at 4:50. Etem got his second of the game :39 seconds later to give the Ducks a resounding 5-1 lead.
Henrik Tallinder and Tyler Myers got pucks past Jonas Hiller, who only had to stop 14 shots on goal for the victory. Perry's second of the game came quickly after Myers' goal and stopped any forward momentum that the Sabres had.
And 6-3 would stand up as the final score, even though the Ducks did their best to give Etem one more shot at his first hat trick.
"It's a big win," said Etem. "When you've had a little support from your teammates trying to get you that third one, it's just nice to see. Great teammates and that showed."
What seems truly miraculous is that the Ducks have an 11-3-1 record with a lousy penalty kill and a brutally awful and virtually non-existent power play. The power play remains league worst at 6.9% (4 for 58 and two short handed goals to boot).
"If we can ever get this power play going, we'll be an elite team in this league," was Getzlaf's apt summary.
Scary to think where the Ducks could be once things ever start clicking for them. For now, their 5 on 5 play is doing the job, and that is all that matters in the long run.
The Ducks now head to New York City to face the Rangers in their final game of the road trip. At 4-2-1, they will finish over .500 regardless of the final, but you know they want to come back home on a positive note.
In other notes:
Vatanen was hurt and left the game in a never ending game of "which Duck get hurts tonight?" Vatanen is day to day. Rickard Rakell was recalled from Norfolk, as was Luca Sbisa, who had been sent there on a conditioning assignment after spraining his ankle in the pre-season. Peter Holland was reassigned to Norfolk.