By Adam Brady (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ANAHEIM – One of the NHL's hottest teams didn’t always look that way in its return to Honda Center, but the Ducks did just enough to earn their fifth straight win and ninth in the last 10 games.
Having come off an ultra-successful 5-1-0 road trip, Anaheim packed together first period goals from Peter Holland and Ryan Getzlaf and got some insurance from Corey Perry on the way to a 3-2 victory over the visiting Blue Jackets. Columbus dropped its third in a row and fifth in the last six.
"We knew it was going to be a tough test coming off of a successful road trip," Perry said., "It’s not easy when you come home and you have to play two nights later. We did what we had to do tonight and we got away with two points."
Jonas Hiller, who sat out the last five games with an injury while backup Viktor Fasth rolled to a 8-0-0 start to his career, recorded 25 saves and helped the Ducks hold a tenuous lead down the stretch. Columbus had pulled to within a goal with 7:54 left after Derick Brassard punched in a rebound, but hardly threatened in the closing moments as the Ducks held on.
“I always said it’s nice to have a good backup goalie and it definitely helped me to be able to take one or two extra days to come back and not feel rushed," Hiller said. "If I want to come back, I want to play as good as possible. There’s some competition, but at the same time, we’re on the same boat. As long as we’re still winning, it doesn’t really matter who plays.”
Anaheim took its first lead on two goals in a span of 21 seconds in the first, but an insurance power-play strike by Corey Perry 8:44 into the third proved vital. With the Ducks up a man, Perry backhanded the puck on net, and it rolled over goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s shoulder and went in off his back.
That was a long-awaited score after the Ducks struck twice in that short window in the first, getting the first goal from Holland with four minutes left in the first and the second a short time later from Getzlaf.
The Ducks got off to a sluggish start, getting outshot by Columbus 9-0, and went down a goal just 3:30 into the game courtesy of Vinny Prospal. A tipped puck hit Prospal in the right shoulder, and he gathered it at his feet before sending it past a scrambling Hiller.
"We know what they’ve been through and what they’re going through, so we knew that they were going to come out and skate hard and be aggressive," Perry said. "We knew that right from the start. We weren’t ready the first 10 minutes. We finally found our legs, got a couple goals in the last 10 minutes and held on.”
With Anaheim on the power play late in the first, Ben Lovejoy took the puck away and sent it ahead to Bobby Ryan, who made a pinpoint headman pass to Holland to set up a breakaway. The young center went in all alone and wristed a shot past Bobrovsky to tie the game.
Just as the cheers were dying down for that goal, the Ducks struck again, as a Matt Beleskey shot caromed hard off Bobrovsky and Getzlaf buried the rebound to give Anaheim the lead.
Neither team found the net in the second, but both were robbed of what looked like certain goals, including a play in which Francois Beauchemin jumped into the crease and stopped Brassard while Hiller was out of position. Beauchemin also slapped a bouncing puck out of the crease in the final seconds of the game to help secure the victory.
"One of these days it’s not going to happen, but you know it’s there," said coach Bruce Boudreau of his team's ability to win on an off night. "The guys can dig deep all the time. And again, we got a tremendous performance out of [Hiller]. We could’ve been down 4-0 after the first 10 minutes but he kept us in there until we battled back."
The Ducks don’t play again until they host Colorado six nights from now, on Sunday evening back at Honda Center.
Anaheim’s 12-2-1 (25 points) record to start the 2012-13 season is currently the second-best mark in the NHL (Chicago leads NHL with a 12-0-3 record and 27 points). It is also Anaheim’s second-best start to a season in franchise history (11-0-4, 26 points in 2006-07).
The Ducks’ 5-1-0 (10 points) start at HOME equals the best start in franchise history. The club amassed 10 standings points through the first six HOME contests on two previous occasions (5-1-0 in 2005-06 and 4-0-2 in 2006-07).
The Ducks are riding the league’s longest active winning streak (5) and longest active home winning streak (5). It marks the club’s longest win streak at HOME since Jan. 6-22, 2012 when they won six straight. It is the club’s longest win streak OVERALL since Jan. 13-22, 2012 (also five games).
The Ducks have won nine of their last 10 games overall (9-1-0) and are now 12 points ahead of last year’s pace after 15 games (5-7-3 in 2011-12, 13 points).
The club is now 7-2-1 when opponents score first, compared to 0-7-1 through 15 games last season.
Ryan Getzlaf scored his fifth goal of the season as part of a two-point night (1-1=2). He has collected 2-3=5 points with a +4 rating in the last four games. In addition, he has an active four-game point streak at HOME (2-3=5).
Scoring Anaheim’s game-winner this evening, Corey Perry has an active three-game point streak (2-2=4).
Matt Beleskey has a three-game point streak (2-2=4), tied for the longest in his career (fourth time, last: Dec. 2-6, 2011; 0-3=3).
With an assist on Peter Holland’s goal, Bobby Ryan has now picked up 3-3=6 points over the last five contests.
Tonight’s attendance was 14,713.
20:00 - END OF GAME - Ducks hang on to win it, 3-2.
19:58 - Koivu slides to block a Wisniewski shot just before the horn.
19:45 - Beauchemin plays the hero roll, slapping the puck out of the crease.
19:26 - Jackets go 6 on 4.
19:26 - Timeout Columbus.
19:26 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry, 2 min. holding. During the delayed whistle, Hiller slides over to make a big save on a one-timer.
18:50 - Bobrovsky to the bench.
12:06 - COLUMBUS GOAL - DERICK BRASSARD - A shot from the point deflects just outside the right post, where Brassard first gets denied by Hiller, but stays with the puck to send it over his skate and make it 3-2. Delayed penalty was coming to the Ducks on the play.
9:24 - CBJ Penalty - Mark Letestu, 2 min. high sticking. Just like that, another Anaheim PP.
8:44 - ANAHEIM GOAL - COREY PERRY - The Ducks strike quickly on the power play, as Getzlaf sends it down low to Perry, who flips a backhand off Bobrovsky's shoulder and it goes in off his back, just as Beauchemin takes a mid-air wack at it. He never touched it and it's Perry's goal. Ducks lead it 3-1.
8:36 - CBJ Penalty - Nick Drazenovic, 2 min. holding - After the whistle, Lovejoy gets tangled up with Foligno, and Aucoin decides to come over and give him a hard shove in the back, sending him to the ice. No penalty there.
And Mr. Roboto makes an appearance during the rolling of the out-of-town scores during the timeout.
6:23 - Not a ton going on the last two periods, but with the Ducks leading by a goal, not sure I want a ton to go on.
2:58 - Shot ricochets off Hiller and hits Dorsett square in the head. He should be alright, but didn't look great at first.
0:00 - Off and running in the third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Not a ton of action in this one, and we're tied 2-1.
14:50 - Selanne with a great feed right in front to Winnik, but Bobrovsky slides over to take away a sure goal. Both teams have gotten robbed tonight, and it's still 2-1.
8:50 - Perry with a pretty big hit on Boll at center ice. Boll used to like to fight Parros back in the day.
5:18 - Not sure how, but Ducks survive a flurry in front of their net, as Hiller is down, but Beauchemin sneaks in behind him to make a save on Brassard. Big-time robbery for Beauchemin. Almost feel sorry for Brassard on that. Almost.
3:10 - Ducks with a big kill, staving off a few Columbus chances.
1:10 - ANA Penalty - Saku Koivu, 2 min. holding the stick. Koivu gets tangled with Collins.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks start sluggish, but get goals from Holland and Getzlaf in a span of 21 seconds to go up 2-1.
19:10 - Palmieri gets absolutely robbed by Bobrovsky, who makes a flailing glove save. Wow. Palmieri feeling his back pocket for his wallet right now.
18:52 - Maroon gets denied right at the goal line. That was close.
16:17 - ANAHEIM GOAL - RYAN GETZLAF - The Ducks captain hits Beleskey in the slot, whose shot is stopped by Bobrovsky, but he leaves a fat rebound that Getzlaf pounces on and sends through. Just like that, the Ducks are up 2-1.
15:56 - ANAHEIM GOAL - PETER HOLLAND - Lovejoy beautifully takes the puck away from Dorsett in the Anaheim end and gets it ahead to Ryan. He makes a picture-perfect lead pass to Holland, who is all alone before he wrists it past Bobrovsky. We're tied.
15:27 - CBJ Penalty - Fedor Tyutin, 2 min. interference. Tyutin knocks down Bonino after a pass from Cogliano on the shorthanded rush.
13:50 - ANA Penalty - Peter Holland, 2 min. interference. Holland knocks down a Jacket in front of the net.
13:30 - Maroon, Holland and Palmieri out there right now. Some high numbers on that line. That's a combined 187.
11:10 - Koivu tags a one-timer from the slot, but right into Bobrovsky's gut. Ducks looking better in the last few minutes though.
Ducks are 6-2-1 when giving up the first goal, FYI.
9:00 - Tip in front off a Lydman try goes just wide. Ducks now with a couple shots on net.
Dude with a goatee out-lip-syncs 20-something blonde girl to "I Will Survive" during the timeout. That's a mild upset, as she gets booed and he get a hardy cheer from the crowd.
5:10 - Lovejoy sends it on net and it's easily gloves by Bobrovsky. No shot on goal since it was going wide and Columbus has an early 5-0 advantage in that category.
3:30 - COLUMBUS GOAL - VINNY PROSPAL - Ducks go down early when a tipped puck hits Prospal in the shoulder, and he quickly gathers it at his feet to send it past a recovering Hiller. Officials review it to determine if Prospal knocked it down with a high stick before he played it, but it's confirmed: good goal.
1:15 - Hiller makes his presence felt early with a couple of big stops right in front.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
Jonas Hiller will get his first start since February 8.