Things definitely hit bottom for the Ducks in Wednesday's 7-2 beatdown loss to Calgary. A four game losing streak as well as nothing but an embarrassment from a team that has led the NHL for most of the season had to be an eye opening reality check for Anaheim.
They came into the game against Colorado, a team that pummeled them on opening night 6-1, with eyes wide open. And they came with their offense in hand.
It was not the prettiest win ever, but it was gutsy and the 6-4 victory was just what the doctor ordered. How big was the win?
"It was big," said Ryan Getzlaf. "The guys showed a lot of character coming out and playing the way we did. Our goalie played well, and we chased their goalie. That was good for us."
The Ducks needed the boost with a game against the Kings coming on Saturday and no rest in between.
Anaheim came out much better in the first period, but were not rewarded for their efforts. In fact, Colorado got on the board first with a goal from John Mitchell at 12:25 and they took the 1-0 lead into the second period.
There was no lack of scoring in the second, when the floodgates opened up and goaltenders were happy to erase tape. Anaheim scored six goals, a club record for goals in any period, and the fastest six goals in team history at 16:03. The Avs added three goals as well to make it edge of your seat lively.
First Daniel Winnik scored at 3:08, just his fourth of the year. Jamie McGinn, who smoked the Ducks in the first game of the year, gave the Avs back the lead at 5:21 on the power play.
Kyle Palmieri, who had not scored since January 17, decided to make up for lost time and had two goals in one shift. The first came at 7:47 and the second just :47 seconds later. The Ducks never gave up the lead after that.
Ben Lovejoy made it 5-2 at 11:53.
"In between periods Winnik said 'shoot something off the end boards because they're very lively,'" said Lovejoy about his 4th of the year. "Got a lucky bounce. My ninth-grade geometry class helped me tonight."
And they say you never use your high school math!
At that point things added up enough for coach Patrick Roy, who pulled Semyon Varlamov and put in a familiar face in J-S Giguere.
The tide turned quickly as McGinn got his second power play goal at 18:08 with Gabriel Landeskog to bring Colorado back within one goal at 18:41.
No worries, as Mathieu Perreault gave the Ducks a two goal cushion again at 19:11.
"Huge goal," praised coach Bruce Boudreau. "We kept saying 'shoot the puck!' It had eyes tonight."
After an exciting second period, the third period settled down and the score did not change at the end of 20 minutes. Jonas Hiller made 34 saves to let the Ducks hold on for the win.
A gaping empty net for nearly the remaining four minutes of the game proved tantalizing for the Ducks, but the puck was never close enough to go in for #7.
"It was good," said Perreault of the third. "It almost felt like a playoff game. The emotion on the bench got really high. At the end, we got some good penalty kills, and we did the right things to earn the win."
It was definitely like a playoff game and certainly felt like a nasty rivalry. Back in October Roy was yelling at Ducks players and then threatening Boudreau through the glass bench partition at the end of the game. There was no love lost since then, with things getting chippy on the ice and bench once again. Erik Johnson was thrown from the game and given a 5-minute major for shoving his stick into Perreault's face. Getzlaf, annoyed that a Colorado player was impeding his return to the bench, decided to shove the Avs player in there. Winnik got boarded hard by Landeskog. There were further "discussions" around the partition by both teams that had Corey Perry amusingly checking to see if the glass was going to hold up, just in case more hostilities were to erupt.
"They paid the price to win the game," said Boudreau.
Now playing against Los Angeles in back to back games, the Ducks will have to continue to pay the price in order to get another win and keep a razor thin lead in the Pacific Division.