The last time the Montreal Canadiens and the Ducks got together, Montreal won handily. The second meeting, this time in Anaheim, also ended in the Canadiens favor, but the 4-3 shutout loss at least yielded a point for the Ducks.
Both teams battled hard in the seesaw game and things could have gone either way. The six round shootout could have ended sooner were it not for a couple of inches.
Kyle Palmieri had his shootout attempt hit one post, bounce off the other one and rookie goaltender Dustin Tokarski swept it out of the crease before it crossed completely over the line. Key word is completely.
It went to Toronto for a long and protracted review, with the overhead camera seeming to provide the best view. It danced precariously along the line, but never fully went past it.
"I saw it go off the post and head towards the net, but by the time it was bouncing off, I didn’t see it hit the other post," said Palmieri. "I looked back and the ref called a goal, but when they went to review it, it didn’t go in. There’s not much you can do about it."
"That’s the difference between winning and losing," said coach Bruce Boudreau.
Finally it was Andrei Markov's goal that was the eventual game winner, zipping past Jonas Hiller, who made 28 saves.
Montreal scored the first two goals of the game and seemed to be heading to another blowout of the Ducks, but Anaheim isn't the number one team in the NHL for naught.
Goals from Brian Gionta at 8:23 and Max Pacioretty at 12:36 gave Anaheim that uh oh feeling.
"We came out a little slow and had to start catching up," said Hiller. "We weren’t focused enough starting from me all the way up front. Pucks were getting away from us, and we weren’t strong enough on the puck. We had a really good second period, fought all the way back. The third period was a pretty even game on both sides."
The second period was definitely better than the first and Anaheim rebounded and finally figured out Tokarski, who got the surprise nod in net for Montreal to make his debut. Tokarski had been called up due to the injury to Carey Price and probably did not expect to see much time in net beyond practices.
"He was outstanding," praised his coach, Michel Therrien. "Good for him. He made some key saves at the right time."
Saves he could not make was Tim Jackman tipping in Luca Sbisa's shot at 7:08 of the middle frame. Jackman had two thirds of a Gordie Howe hat trick by adding a fight with George Parros, who came back to Anaheim for the first time since leaving as a free agent in 2012.
Francois Beauchemin also got his third of the year at 9:07, the only power play the Ducks managed to take advantage of in six opportunities. Add another power play goal and that could be the difference maker.
The Ducks took the lead for the first time at 18:11 with a goal from Daniel Winnik. Brendan Gallagher tied things up again with :36 seconds left in the period, putting both teams on even footing in the final 20 minutes.
Nothing changed in the final period or in overtime, thus going to the shootout.
"We got the point," Palmieri said, "but it’s disappointing we didn’t get the second point."
The Ducks are looking for two points on Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are dominating the Eastern Conference. It should be another good battle between two Stanley Cup contenders, but if they want to win, they need to start well and figure out how to convert on the power play. If they do that, they have a good chance.
In other notes: Teemu Selanne was out ill for the game, so the Ducks dressed seven defensemen. Rickard Rakell was called up from Norfolk on Thursday.