By Adam Brady (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ANAHEIM – The term “better late than never” couldn’t be more appropriate for the Anaheim Ducks.
Seemingly on their way to victory over the visiting Dallas Stars in regulation, the Ducks gave up a shocking late goal to force extra time. But they pulled out the win in a shootout to put the finishing touches on a postseason berth that came via a torrid late stretch to their season.
|Forced to extra time after a late regulation goal, the Ducks pulle out a 4-3 victory over the Stars, and with it came Anaheim's fourth straight postseason berth.
Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne converted in the shootout and Jonas Hiller stopped three of four Dallas attempts to grab a 4-3 victory that probably should have never required the extra time.
The Ducks appeared poised to run out the clock and seal the victory in regulation, pinning the puck in the Dallas end for most of the final two minutes. But with time running out, the Stars made one last dash for the Anaheim net, and Steve Ott one-timed a shot from the slot past Hiller with 13.1 left on the clock. That was the 40th shot of the game for Dallas, which combined with the Ducks for 84 shots on goal on the night.
When the clock hit triple-zero at the end of regulation, the Ducks actually clinched a playoff berth, since they only needed one standings point after Nashville lost 8-4 in Minnesota in a game that ended during the first period of Ducks-Stars.
But that did little to mask the disappointment of the sellout crowd of 17,531 at Honda Center, which audibly gasped when the Stars found the net with seconds remaining. But their regret turned to elation in the shootout, starting with Getzlaf’s game-saving goal in the third round, a conversion the Ducks needed after Dallas’ James Neal had put the Stars on top in the second round.
Hiller got a break when Mike Modano hit the post on his third round attempt, and Selanne got the game-winner on a pretty start-and-stop move. Selanne skated with fury toward goalie Marty Turco, before skidding to a semi-stop and wristing it over the prone goalie. Hiller followed with an easy save on Loui Eriksson that sealed the game and brought the home crowd to a rousing ovation that was tinged with both jubilation and relief.
It was the 10th win in the last 12 for the Ducks, who recovered from an up-and-down season to charge to their fourth straight postseason berth. "We’ve come together to push us into the playoffs and give us an opportunity to see what we can do there," said Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer. "It’s always nice to have that opportunity. We’ve had more consistency and playing the way we need to."
|Hiller kept the Ducks in it with several huge stops among his 42 on the night.
The Ducks had carried a 3-2 lead into the home stretch of the game thanks to a Andrew Ebbett goal with just over six minutes left in regulation. That goal came just 13 seconds after Dallas’ Fabian Brunnstrom tied the game with 6:17 left, punching in a rebound after both he and Ott took shots on Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller.
But the Ducks countered even before that goal could be announced, as Teemu Selanne came around the back of the goal to make a pretty feed to Ebbett, who one-timed it inside the near post to regain the Anaheim lead.
The Ducks had initially built a one-goal cushion in that period on Scott Niedermayer’s 14th of the year, one-timing a nice feed from Corey Perry.
That goal was a nice bounce back from a lackadaisical first two periods for Anaheim, which may have been reflective of their four straight days without a game entering tonight. That lull started in the first, when the Ducks were lucky to escape with a 1-0 lead. Todd Marchant potted the only goal midway through the period, off a great cross-ice feed from Rob Niedermayer that set up Marchant to go top shelf.
But the ice was tilted heavily in Dallas’ direction in that period, and again in the next one, and it finally caught up with the Ducks 4:10 into it. Following a Rob Niedermayer hooking penalty, Ott punched in a rebound goal to tie the game 1-1.
We didn’t come out and play the way we wanted to in the start," Scott Niedermayer said. "As the game went on, we just got better and better and back to doing the things that we have done in the last stretch here. That is good.
And Jonas Hiller ensured the Stars would do no further damage, with several huge stops among his 29 over the first two stanzas. He finished with 42 on the night.
It was the first game for Francois Beauchemin since Nov. 14, after the defenseman had been out since Nov. 14 following surgery for a torn ACL. Beauchemin played 15:23 on the third defensive pairing with Sheldon Brookbank.
"Overall, I think I felt alright," Beauchemin said. "I got the puck early on a couple of breakouts, offensive zone faceoffs and all that stuff. I didn’t run out of breath. Conditioning-wise, I felt actually almost better than ever. The knee had no problems. I hit a couple of guys. I didn’t feel a thing tonight. That is good news."
The Ducks headed to the airport soon after the conclusion of the game, where they fly to Phoenix to finish their regular season. But prior to that departure, they took part in Fan Appreciation Night festivities, where they gave their game jerseys to lucky fans picked in a random drawing.
The Ducks will look to hold onto their seventh spot in the Western Conference and could conceivably move to sixth with a victory in Phoenix tomorrow night.
"We’re in," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "You work all year. You start in September with your group and you have visions of playing in the playoffs. It’s a marathon that we just are about to complete with one more game in Phoenix. It again is an important game for us from a standpoint of improving our position. It’s amazing that all of these games have had a certain degree of importance. Tomorrow is no different."
With tonight’s win, the Ducks have clinched a berth to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, a franchise record, and the seventh time overall. The Ducks’ first-round opponent and series dates will be announced on Sunday, Apr. 12.
Tonight the Ducks reached the 90-point mark for the fourth consecutive season and the fifth time in club history.
The Ducks have won two straight, five of the last six games (5-1-0), 10 of the last 12 (10-2-0) and 11-of-14 (11-3-0).
Tonight’s win brought Anaheim’s shootout total to 7-2 on the season. The Ducks have won their last four consecutive shootout appearances.
Andrew Ebbett has earned 3-5=8 points in the last 10 games, including a goal tonight.
With an assist tonight, Teemu Selanne extended his point streak to six games (3-4=7).
Jonas Hiller has won eight of his last nine starts (8-1-0, one no decision), stopping 42-of-45 shots in his 23rd win of the season. During that span, he has stopped 270-of-293 shots for a .922 SV% and 2.34 GAA (23 GA/589 MIN). Hiller has gone 5-1 in the shootout this season.
With an assist tonight, Corey Perry extended his point streak to four games (3-3=6). He also finishes the Ducks 2008-09 regular season on a six-game point streak at HOME, earning 5-3=8 points during that span.
Scott Niedermayer has earned 2-4=6 points in the last five games. His two points tonight (1-1=2) accounted for his 16th multiple-point game of the season (one multi goal, 11 multi-assist).
James Wisniewski has collected six assists (0-6=6) over the last eight games.
Todd Marchant scored his fifth goal of the season and has earned points in consecutive games (1-1=2).
Petteri Nokelainen has earned points in consecutive games (1-1=2).
The Ducks finished the season having sold out five consecutive contests and nine of the last 12. Anaheim finished the 2008-09 regular season with 19 sellouts at Honda Center.
DAL Loui Eriksson's attempt is NO GOOD, as he tries to come in on Hiller, but makes a soft shot that Hiller easily stops. The Ducks win it in a shootout.
ANA Teemu Selanne's attempt is GOOD, as he skates hard at Turco, then stops and wrists it top shelf with Turco lying on his side.
DAL Mike Modano's attempt is NO GOOD, as he wrists it off the post.
ANA Ryan Getzlaf's attempt is GOOD, as he dekes left, then right, then wrists it home.
DAL James Neal's attempt is GOOD, as his quick wrister gets past Hiller.
ANA Bobby Ryan
's attempt is NO GOOD, as he tries several dekes on Turco, but can't get the shot high enough.
DAL Fabian Brunnstrom's attempt is NO GOOD, as he can't put a good shot on Hiller.
ANA Corey Perry
's attempt is NO GOOD, as Turco stacks the pads and blocks Perry's path.
5:00 - Nothing doing for either side and we're going to a shootout.
4:20 - Selanne and Niedermayer get on a 2-on-1, but their angle is cut off and no shot is taken.
3:30 - A bombined 83 shots on goal in this one.
3:55 - Wisniewski winds up and rips a slap shot from the wing that Turco stops.
0:00 - Underway in an OT that should never have happened.
20:00 - END OF REGULATION - Unbelievable turn of events as we're going to OT. But with the point, the Ducks are officially playoff bound. Just not the way they hoped to do it.
19:46 - DALLAS GOAL - STEVE OTT - With 13.1 remaining, Ott takes a pass in the slot from Brunnstrom and one-times it past Hiller. Absolutely heartbreaking for the Ducks, who appeared to be just content with running out the clock. It's 3-3.
19:35 - Crowd gets even louder.
19:20 - Getzlaf, strangely enough, passes up a wide open shot.
18:30 - Ninety seconds left and the crowd rises to their feet. Ducks on the verge of qualifying.
16:00 - Four minutes left for the Ducks to hang on.
13:56 - ANAHEIM GOAL - ANDREW EBBETT - Selanne chases the puck into the corner and peals around the back of the net to emerge on the other side. He quickly feeds a charging Ebbett, who one-times it past a lunging Turco inside the near post. Huge counter for the Ducks and they lead again.
13:43 - DALLAS GOAL - FABIAN BRUNNSTROM - Brunnstrom puts a shot on net from a bad angle, and it's saved by Hiller, as is the rebound try by Steve Ott. But Brunnstrom comes back to punch it through and tie it 2-2.
13:35 - Hiller gets a break as a Dallas shot rings the plumbing.
12:35 - Perry has an ugly collision with Ryan Getzlaf
and he goes down. He looks a little shaky as he gets up and gets help from trainer Tim Clark, but he'll hopefully be alright. Looks like he took a shot to the head. He's in obvious pain as he sits on the bench.
12:01 - And they get that kill.
10:01 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Getzlaf
, 2 min. holding. The Ducks need a kill here.
Two scores on the out-of-town scoreboard get a big ovation: Nashville losing 8-4 in Minnesota and the Angels leading the Red Sox 3-1 through seven across the street.
9:45 - Turco stacks the pads to rob Ryan again from close range. Both goalies are keeping their teams in this one.
8:43 - Turco robs Bobby Ryan
with a glove save on a one-timer from point blank range. The goal light actually goes on, but shouldn't have.
7:03 - ANAHEIM GOAL - SCOTT NIEDERMAYER - As Niedermayer and Corey Perry both chase the puck into the corner against Grossman, Perry comes out with it behind the Dallas net. He skates into the left wing circle and slings a pass across the ice to Niedermayer, who one-times it to paydirt. Absolutely huge goal for a mostly listless Ducks team and they lead it 2-1.
5:52 - Another nice stop by Hiller. He's got 31.
3:55 - Parros drills Begin into the wall.
0:24 - Still on the power play, Perry and Getzlaf try to jam the puck through, but Turco won't give way.
0:00 - Off and running in the third. If this game goes to overtime, the Ducks are in the playoffs. But I'd rather see the Ducks get the win.
During the newest Tim Marchant: Ace Reporter segment shown on the Honda Vision, he asks the Ducks who their "Hollywood Crush" is. Two of them say "Julie Roberts," which destroys my theory that men don't find Julia Roberts attractive. And when George Parros explains his crush in Jessica Biel because "she's a good actress," the crowd actually laughs.
A nice-looking young woman girl wins the Honda Pilot during the intermission, getting the lucky key that opens the driver's side door when she tries it. She looks overwhelmed and gives a big hug to Wild Wing after realizing she's won. Pretty cool moment.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Not a good second at all for the Ducks, and they're lucky to only give up the Ott goal. It's tied 1-1, but again, the Ducks take some power play time into the third.
18:26 - DAL Penalty - Brendan Morrison, 2 min. hooking. Great give-and-go around the net by Selanne and Christensen, but Turco makes a great kick save on Christensen's shot just before the Morrison hook.
16:45 - I don't think the Ducks have crossed the red line with the puck for a good half hour. Four days off isn't looking so good right now.
15:27 - Ducks just can't get anything going in the Dallas end right now. And for awhile now.
Columbus lost 3-1 to St. Louis, meaning the Ducks could conceivably nab the sixth spot with two wins in their last two. First thing's first -- win this one.
12:28 - Hiller another nice stop of a Sutherby shot from the wing. He's got 24 tonight.
10:15 - Wisniewski with a shot from the right wing on the rush, but a nice stop by Turco.
7:10 - Hiller makes yet another big stop, on an open look from Andrew Hutchinson.
5:27 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry
- 2 min. tripping. Perry takes down a Star behind the Dallas net. A bad first period for the Ducks, and things may be even worse in the second.
4:10 - DALLAS GOAL (POWER PLAY) - STEVE OTT - This one was only a matter of time, as Ivan Vishnevskiy rips a shot from the left wing that bounces off Hiller toward Ott, who punches it through. We're tied 1-1.
3:00 - ANA Penalty - Rob Niedermayer, 2 min. hooking.
1:40 Steve Begin takes the second of two hard shots off his body. I can't even Begin to imagine how much he's hurting right now.
1:32 - Big kill for Dallas, as Ribeiro escapes the box.
0:25 - Selanne looks to have an open net on the doorstep, but somehow he can't poke it through.
Anaheim officially needs just one point to get into the playoffs, since Nashville just lost in Minnesota, 8-4.
0:00 - Here we go in the second, the Ducks with 1:32 of power play time.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The Ducks are mostly outplayed in the period (trailing 17-7 in shots on goal) but manage to take a 1-0 lead. They'll also have 1:32 of power play time when we return.
20:00 - After the horn, a little bit of scrapping between the two teams behind the Dallas net. Nothing too serious.
19:55 - Ducks can't get much going on the PP, but they'll have some more time next period.
17:32 - DAL Penalty - Mike Ribeiro, 2 min. slashing and 2 min. unsportsmanlike conduct. Ribeiro gets into it with Chris Pronger and swings his stick at him. Not sure what the unsportsmanlike was, but I do know that Ribeiro was so mad about the call, he slammed the penalty box door like an angry wife.
It's 6-4 Minny over Nashville with two minutes left.
16:44 - Hiller with his 16th stop. He's carrying the boys in black right now.
16:00 - The Ducks are turning the puck over like it's going out of style, and they trail 15-3 in shots on goal. How they're winning this game, I have no idea.
It's trivia time, and the guy is asked, when Jonas Hiller tied a new Ducks record with seven straight victories this year, whose record did he match? The choices are 1. J.S. Giguere, 2. Guy Hebert and 3. Ilya Bryzgalov. The guy yells out, "TWOOOO, GUY HEBERT!" and he's right. His whole row gets cowboy hats, courtesy of the Calgary Stampede. Wait, that's for winning?
13:00 - Hiller sprawls out to make another great glove save, just before Brookbank gives it to Steve Ott with a hand to the face. Retaliation for a hard hit on Brookbank seconds before.
12:28 - Hiller slides out to make a nice glove save on a Grossman shot.
11:51 - ANA Penalty - Chris Pronger, 2 min. cross checking. Pronger gets a little aggressive in front of the Anaheim net.
9:50 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TODD MARCHANT - On a mini-rush, Petteri Nokelainen sends the puck to Rob Niedermayer on the right wing and Niedermayer makes a great cross-ice pass to an open Marchant, who roofs it. It's 1-0 Ducks.
8:05 - A nice one-timer by Selanne on the power play is stopped by Turco.
7:07 - DAL Penalty - Marty Turco, 2 min. high sticking. A little bumping between Turco and Perry in front of the net ends with Turco sticking Perry in the face with his stick, seemingly on purpose. A little history between those two. And the crowd reacts with a roar and a chant of "Tuuuurrrrco!"
5:35 - Ducks get their first shot on goal on a wrister from the wing by Ebbett.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan is sitting a row in front of me in the press box, watching a potential first-round opponent. His Sharks play at L.A. tomorrow afternoon.
1:55 - Even louder as Beauchemin holds the puck behind the Anaheim net. Very cool.
1:30 - Beauchemin hits the ice for the first time since Nov. 14, to a loud ovation from the crowd.
Nashville trails Minnesota, 5-2, in the third. Should the Wild hang on, the Ducks only need a point tonight to get in.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center, the Ducks needing a win (for the time being) to get into the dance.
7:08 p.m. - A moment of silence for Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and the other two victims in the crash early Thursday morning. That's followed by a nice rendition of the anthem from the winner of the "Oh, Say Can You Sing?" contest, Robert Adams.
7:03 p.m. - Very cool opening on the Honda Vision to commemorate Fan Appreciation Night. Check it out here.
Starting Goaltenders - ANA Jonas Hiller
; DAL Marty Turco
Starting Skaters - ANA Ryan Whitney, Chris Pronger, Bobby Ryan
, Corey Perry
, Ryan Getzlaf
; DAL Nicklas Grossman, Andrew Hutchinson, Mike Modano, Brian Sutherby, Jere Lehtinen
Scratches - ANA Bret Hedican, Ryan Carter
, Troy Bodie
, Brendan Mikkelson
; DAL Matt Climie, Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley, Krys Barch, Landon Wilson, Mark Parrish, Joel Lundqvist
Francois Beauchemin is in the lineup for Anaheim, for the first time since Nov. 14.