The Ducks have been accumulating wins to start the season, but they aren't doing it the easy way. Their latest 3-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes was a sigh of relief, because until late in the third period, it appeared the Ducks were headed to their first loss at home and only their second loss since losing in Colorado to open the season.
Instead, the Ducks are now 6-1-0, with their best record ever to start the season (and that includes the year they won the Stanley Cup.) Winning six in a row is the longest active winning streak in the NHL.
This from a team whose power play is non-existent and at the bottom of the league. Imagine what they can do when they get that thing going?
"It’s familiar to us," said Nick Bonino, who had the game tying goal. "Last year, we found ways to win no matter how we played. I think everyone here will agree our last two games haven’t been our best games, or our sharpest games. But, winning teams find ways to win no matter how ugly it is."
Teemu Selanne, who opened his personal ketchup bottle of scoring in the last game, got the scoring started in this one as well at 6:38 of the first period. Selanne makes it look easy every single time, and took a nice pass from Mathieu Perrault and finished it off under goaltender Mike Smith. He had plenty of chances to add to that total, but Smith said "no."
"It was his best game of the year, by far," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "(Selanne) looked like he was 33 again. He didn’t score a goal in the shootout last year in five attempts, but I knew what he was going to do, and I just felt he was going to score. He was on his game."
Antoine Vermette tied up the game for Phoenix at 11:11 of the first and Rotislav Klesla gave the Coyotes their first lead at 7:54 of the second.
Jonas Hiller made 30 saves and kept the Ducks in the game. If the Ducks can actually score on a power play opportunity, perhaps they would not have to work so hard.
It was not until late in the third when the Ducks could finally get another puck past Smith, who had 37 saves.
Bonino used Dustin Penner as a screen and lobbed the puck on net. Penner had to duck and Smith never saw it as it went in with 2:02 left in the game.
"I had an extra second and I knew Penner was stationed in front," said an elated Bonino. "I just tried to put it on net. About halfway there, I noticed the line the puck was on was looking pretty good, and that Smith had no idea where it was. It went in, and I was happy."
So was the rest of the Anaheim team and their fans.
The Ducks took that boost of energy and nearly won the game in regulation. After nothing further being resolved in overtime, it was time for a shootout.
Bonino started things off right with a goal and Corey Perry was successful, too. Goals from Radim Vrbata and Mike Ribiero, who had a highlight reel goal on Hiller, kept the shootout going beyond the usual three rounds.
Boudreau has a ridiculously long line of excellent shootout options and while Saku Koivu missed his attempt, Selanne was successful with a tiny fake out that beat Smith cleanly. Jakob Silfverberg, who is now 5 for 8 in career shootout attempts, reinforced what a wickedly fast release he has and ended up with the game winning goal in the shootout. after Hiller stopped Shane Doan's final attempt.
"I watched their shots (Perry and Selanne)," said Silfverberg. "Wherever is open, I try to go there and that turned out great."
The crowd at Honda Center agreed.
"I thought it was a good hockey game," said Boudreau. "It’s two teams that have played against each other for a while. We know how tough they are, and they know how tough we are. We got a lucky goal and continued to fight. I thought we had a lot of really good chances. It was a seesaw game."
The Ducks will take on Dallas on Sunday for their final homestand before heading out for eight games on the road. They want to maintain their perfect record at Honda Center and keep their winning streak alive.
In other notes: Viktor Fasth tweaked something in practice on Thursday and so Frederik Andersen was recalled to back Hiller up. Fasth is listed as day to day.