Best of the West versus the best of the East. Both the Ducks and Penguins showed why they are on the top of their conference and both are pretty evenly matched.
Even though the Ducks lost in the sixth round of the shootout (for the second game in a row), it could have gone either way in the 3-2 defeat.
Both teams came out of the gate strong, despite Pittsburgh having played the night before in San Jose. Anaheim definitely was the stronger team in the first period, outshooting Pittsburgh 12-3, but came out of the period tied 1-1.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves in the game and was the reason the Penguins got one point, much less two.
"It was huge," said Sidney Crosby. "The first two periods weren’t great. Definitely in those first two, he held us in it. In the third, I thought we went after it more. But he really had to make some saves, pretty consistently, for the first two periods to keep us in it and allow us to get ourselves back in the game."
Corey Perry was able to get two by Fleury. The first one came at 3:54 of the first period, after the Ducks had poured it on and kept coming in waves at the Penguins end. The second one came at 1:10 of the third period. Ryan Getzlaf assisted on both of the shots that were highlight reel goals.
The Penguins would not quit and with the talent they have, you knew it would be a matter of time before they got on the scoreboard.
Deryk Engelland tied up the game in the first period at 7:47 and Evgeni Malkin had a power play goal at 8:57 of the third period to tie up the game again.
The game remained tied and went into overtime, which was no less exciting and interesting than the first three periods of the game.
A sure sign of depth and talent was obvious in the shootout. Crosby scored, as did Perry in the extra round. Former Duck Chris Kunitz also got one in behind Jonas Hiller, but Teemu Selanne evened things up again. Finally Brandon Sutter got one in the sixth round and Getzlaf could not keep things going.
Two points Penguins. One point Ducks. Pretty satisfied fans in the sold out, standing room only building.
"I thought we played a great game," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "Take away their power play, and I think they had 10 or 11 shots, which is great. We followed our game plan to a tee. We just lost in a shootout."
Although it is rarely the two top teams who face each other in the Stanley Cup Finals, this one would be an amazing match up if it gets that far.
"That’s a very good team over there," said former Penguin Ben Lovejoy. "I thought both teams played really good hockey. They wanted to get into a transition game, and we wanted to play a physical game down low. It went in waves where they carried the play and we carried the play."
The Ducks now finish up their five game homestand against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night. It will be the first time former coach Randy Carlyle comes back to Anaheim.