After two high tempo, energetic road games against the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues, the Ducks experienced a bit of a let down when facing the New York Islanders at home.
Its always easy to come out strong against two of the top teams in the league. Not so much with a team that is at the bottom of the their division and struggling mightily.
In the end, the Ducks had the beast awakened and were able to defeat the Islanders 5-2 to keep them successful at home. Anaheim is now 11-0-2 in their own building and the only team undefeated in regulation at home. It is their best home start ever for the franchise.
And it almost didn't happen.
"You’re always pleased when you get two points," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "Whether you play good or not, the two points are important. They came out and played really hard. We weren’t ready for them. But it seemed like every time they were outplaying us, we got a goal. We just hung around long enough to get our legs, and once we got to 4-2, I think it took the heart out of them a little bit."
The Islanders were ready to go, and the Ducks were less than stellar to begin the game. As a result, the Islanders scored first to take the lead. Anaheim's penalty kill, which has been terrific of late, was unable to stop John Tavares from putting the puck behind Jonas Hiller at 9:17 of the first period.
The Ducks were fortunate to come out of the first period with a tie, thanks to a goal from Saku Koivu, who batted in Cam Fowler's rebound behind Anders Nilsson at 15:54.
The second period was the difference maker for the two teams.
Thomas Vanek gave New York the lead once more at 4:17. Andrew Cogliano returned the game to tied status at 12:41 after a brilliant pass from Daniel Winnik, who was given the second star of the game for his efforts that earned him three assists on the tally sheet.
Where the Islanders went wrong was pissing off the top of line of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Dustin Penner. The threesome had been pretty ineffective all night until the Islanders woke the beast within and paid for it mightily.
After making his presence known in front of the net, Perry got a high stick in the face from Nilsson. The ensuing mayhem behind the net resulted in Penner and Perry finding their way to the penalty box and finding a lot of motivation to get some justice. It was the Islanders fourth power play, versus none for the Ducks.
Karma being what it is, instead of going down a goal again, Fowler got his first short handed goal ever at 19:27. Even more priceless, it was a 3 on 1 while shorthanded.
On the next shift Perry got knocked down while rushing the net and a penalty would have been called on the Islanders. Except for one little detail. Perry scored. From his knees. With 1.7 seconds remaining in the period. Highlight reel goal and not the first that he has scored from his knees.
Don't get mad. Get even. Or in this case, go up by two goals.
"'Winnik just dropped it to me and I knew there were only seconds left, so I had to make a move," said Perry. "The guy tripped me, and as I was falling on my knees, I got it and found a way to squeak it in."
After that, the life was just sucked out of the Islanders. Anaheim finally got their first power play in the third period, and Perry got his second of the game with a tip in of Nick Bonino's shot at 7:40. It was Perry's 20th of the year. Only Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Steen have more goals in the NHL.
"We didn’t come out and play hockey," said Getzlaf. "We weren’t ready to go. We weren’t making the plays we normally make. It was very uncharacteristic. Our goaltender played well and we got timely goals."
Hiller made 35 saves for the win.
"I thought Hiller was great," said Boudreai. "He was probably the difference in the whole scheme of things."
That, and some guy named Perry.
The Ducks will try to keep things perfect at home against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday.
In other notes: Defenseman Mark Fistric suffered an upper body injury early in the game and did not return, adding to the continued blue line woes for Anaheim.