After the 2-1 defeat of the Minnesota Wild by the Anaheim Ducks, no one in the state of hockey is happy. Except Zach Sikich, but more on him later.
The Wild were robbed. Plain and simple. They outworked, outplayed and outlasted the Ducks for the first two periods of the game. Anaheim was outshot 22-7 after the first 40 minutes of play and things did not look like they would improve in the third period.
The only reason the Ducks were down by a single goal was because of Jonas Hiller, who was spectacular and he had to be.
Hiller wasn't even supposed to start the game. Viktor Fasth got the nod. Then Fasth got injured in the morning skate. Bad enough that he could not sit on the bench. So the Ducks called up Jeff Deslauriers, but he could not get there in time for the game to start.
Enter Sikich. The 32 year old Minnesota native who runs a goaltender school got to add three minutes of NHL time to his resume. Sikich was signed to an amateur try out contract which paid him $500 and threw in an official Ducks jersey with his name on the back.
Sikich had been used as a practice goaltender last year by the Ducks, but to get this kind of opportunity after never having played higher than a few ECHL games was a highlight.
Sikich's very, very brief NHL career came to an end when Deslauriers made it to the rink, albeit a little late. The two goalies switched places during a review of Torrey Mitchell's almost goal at 2:27 of the first period.
The puck never crossed the line, so no goal. And for Sikich, that was the end for him as well.
The Ducks spent a good portion of the first period in the penalty box, giving Minnesota three power plays, including 1:30 with a two man advantage. Given enough opportunities, scoring will happen, and Devin Setoguchi finally put the Wild officially on the board at 18:00.
The second period was no less awful for Anaheim and they continued the march to the penalty box.
The most egregious was a major interference penalty on Corey Perry at 4:21. Perry caught Jason Zucker's head on a late hit that caught Zucker unaware. Zucker spent a long time down on the ice and Perry was given a quick exit from the game.
Perry faces a disciplinary hearing this morning in a telephone conference to determine if further punishment is to be doled out.
EDIT: Perry was handed a four game suspension for the hit.
Despite all the adversity, Hiller remained strong in net and kept Anaheim in the game and the penalty killers did their job. By the time the third period began, if the Ducks could steal a point, that would have been better than expected results.
Never say never with these Duckies, though. There is no quit in them and they continue to find ways to win.
Patrick Maroon tied up the game at 3:05 of the third with a one handed deflection behind Niklas Backstrom. It was his second goal of the year.
The game appeared destined for overtime until Luca Sbisa found a great time to get his first goal of the year at 16:56.
The shocked Wild and their fans got to see not one but two points go right out the window as Anaheim held them off for the remaining three minutes of the game.
"You gotta be honest with yourself," said Sbisa. "I don't think we played to the standard you need to play on a nightly basis. But it shows the character of this team to battle through it."
The Ducks can now get out of Minnesota, who are happy to see the team go, and take this crazy show on the road to Dallas in the second of a three game road trip.
Perhaps Anaheim might try the tactic of playing a full 60 minutes to avoid these come from behind nail biters?
In other notes: Nick Bonino was placed on IR for a low body injury and Devante Smith-Pelly was sent back to Norfolk. Sikich is still floating on cloud nine for his experience and new found media attention!