ANAHEIM – For the second time in the last five nights, a Ducks team desperately needing a victory got little resistance from the cellar-dwelling Colorado Avalanche.
It wasn’t as clear cut as Wednesday’s 7-2 victory in Colorado, but Anaheim left little doubt in the third period in a 4-1 victory over the visiting Avs. It was the sixth win in the last seven games for the Ducks, who avoided falling back in the tight Western Conference playoff race. It was the seventh straight defeat for Colorado.
|Bobby Ryan had two goals, including the eventual game-winner, as the Ducks took down the Avs to remain in the Western Conference playoff hunt.
Bobby Ryan had two goals, including one early in the third period that gave the Ducks a comforting two-goal lead in helping the Ducks dispatch an Avs team that remains last in the Western Conference. It was a game the Ducks badly needed, as they had fallen from seventh in the conference to 10th by virtue of a loss last Friday night to Edmonton and some timely wins from their closest competitors. Seventh-place Nashville and eighth-place St. Louis were both victorious Sunday before the Ducks and Avs dropped the puck, so Anaheim needed to two points to keep from losing more ground.
"Everybody in the room realized we dropped one that we felt like we should have had there on Friday night against
Ryan helped make that happen with his goal 4:05 into the third period, as he wristed a shot from the right wing circle through the legs of a Colorado defenseman and underneath goalie Peter Budaj. Ryan had put the Ducks in front for good with a pretty backhand goal on the power play that gave Anaheim a 2-1 cushion. Ryan took in a perfect feed from the point by Ryan Whitney, and moving to his left, backhanded it top shelf for the only goal of the period.
After Ryan’s big goal in the third, Drew Miller added to the Anaheim lead a little less than two minutes later. In a scramble in front of the Colorado net, Andrew Ebbett managed to kick a loose puck to Miller, who dispatched it into the open net.
The Ducks scored the first goal of a relatively dreary first period, as Corey Perry came through with his sixth goal in the last seven games (including two last time against Colorado) at 12:50. T.J. Galiardi lost the puck near center ice, and it ended up on the stick of Perry, who was still hanging out in the attacking zone. He headed toward the right wing circle, where he hammered a slap shot into the top corner of the net.
|Jonas Hiller was very strong in net, with several acrobatic stops among his 26 saves on the night.
Colorado found the equalizer on the power play with 3:21 left in the period, with Chris Pronger in the box for hooking. After a lengthy battle in the corner, T.J. Hensick found the puck and fed John-Michael Liles, who got lost among the Anaheim defense as he charged into the slot. Liles one-timed it off Hiller and it trickled over the goal line.
That was the only damage to Hiller on the night, as he was outstanding in net with 26 saves, including a few acrobatic ones. He also took a big chance midway through the second by coming way out of his crease to dive and knock away a bouncing puck, which ended up on the stick of T.J. Galiardi. But the Ducks were able to block his shot while Hiller scrambled to get back in net, and he made another big stop a split seconds later.
"I think you have to talk about the team performance, about those two points, that is all that counts," Hiller said. "Every single guy in here has his work to do. I’m sure I had a couple of good saves tonight. But in the end, it’s the two points that count right now. They were important. We know that and we’re happy that we won that game."
And one of the first Ducks off the bench to congratulate Hiller after the final horn with a head bump was Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who struggled in net during a 5-3 Ducks loss to Edmonton on Friday night.
The Ducks face those same Oilers again Tuesday night in another huge game for both teams. Anaheim then heads to Vancouver on Thursday before playing San Jose in a weekend home-and-home that promises to be crucial.
"I think that probably the way it’s going to be the rest of the way, out right to the bitter end, we’re going to be fluctuating with the other teams pretty easily," Ryan said. "We know every two points is incredibly valuable, especially when you look around and other teams are winning as well. It’s important for us to control our own fate here and put another run together like we did last week."
The Ducks have won six of their last seven games (6-1-0) and seven of the last nine (7-2-0). At home, the Ducks have won three of their last four (3-1-0).
The Ducks have scored at least one power play goal in four of the last five games, going eight-for-25 (32.0%) during that stretch.
Over the last five games, Anaheim has scored 22 goals, averaging 4.4 per game.
With two goals tonight, Bobby Ryan recorded his third multi-goal game of the season. He now sits three goals behind the club record for regular season goals by a rookie (Penner, 29).
In his last seven appearances (5-1-0), Jonas Hiller has stopped 185-of-196 shots for a .944 SV% and 1.64 GAA (11 GA/403 MIN).
With an assist tonight, Ryan Getzlaf has moved to within one point of matching a career high for points in a season (82, 2007-08).
Corey Perry has recorded 4-2=6 points in the last three games.
Drew Miller has four goals (4-2=6) in his last eight games with the Ducks.
James Wisniewski has four assists (0-4=4) in his last three games.
Tonight’s attendance was 17,182, a sellout.
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