ANAHEIM – At no point during a team-record-shattering start did it appear the Ducks would ultimately have to hang on for dear life to knock off the visiting Buffalo Sabres.
But despite racing out to a 4-0 lead in a little more than half of the first period, Anaheim had to lean on a huge insurance goal by Troy Bodie late in the game and hang tough over the final minute to secure a 5-4 victory.
It was the eighth straight home triumph for the Ducks, their seventh victory in the last eight games overall and broke up a hot streak for the Sabres. Buffalo came into the night having gone 8-0-3 in their last 11 games and not taking a regulation loss since December 23. Meanwhile, they had yet to lose to a Western Conference team, going 7-0-1 entering the game.
But the Ducks put a stop to all of that on the strength of a 4-0 jumpstart that set team records for the fastest two goals, three goals and finally four goals to begin a game.
Ryan Getzlaf led it off with a tally just 51 seconds after the opening faceoff, as Corey Perry managed to hang on to the puck moving into the slot and got off a shot that caromed off starter Patrick Lalime. Getzlaf took in the rebound and sent a backhander into the open net.
Just 1:02 later, Evgeny Artyukhin chased down a turned-over puck at the red line and raced in on a breakaway before dropping a backhand inside the right post.
Artyukhin played a big part in giving Anaheim a 3-0 lead 5:23 into the game, speeding around two Sabres before sending a pass into the crease that Mike Brown chipped through right in front of Lalime.
And with the period just a little more than halfway over, the Ducks took a 4-0 lead on the power play when Bobby Ryan reached up to tip a Getzlaf wrister from the point. A quick replay to determine if Ryan touched the puck with a high stick ruled in Anaheim’s favor. Those four goals in 10:26 were the fastest to start a game since December 21, 2005, when four different Ducks scored in the first 11:09 against St. Louis.
But as quickly as the Ducks built that four-goal lead, they saw it all but disappear almost as instantaneously in the second period. The Sabres began that session on a power play stemming from an Artyukhin roughing penalty near the end of the first and quickly capitalized. Tim Connolly was able to poke in a loose puck through a scrum in front just 23 seconds into the period to make it 4-1 Ducks. Only 28 seconds later, Clarke MacArthur punched in a rebound to cut the Anaheim lead in half.
At 6:12, former Duck Steve Montador picked off a Steve Eminger pass in the Anaheim end and slipped a backhander from the slot under Hiller to make it 4-3.
And as if things weren’t bad enough for the Ducks, not long after that goal a Matt Beleskey clearing attempt hit Ryan Getzlaf above the right eye, sending Getzlaf spilling to the ice gushing blood. He quickly skated off the ice with a towel applied to the cut and headed to the locker room. Much to the relief of Ducks fans, he returned with about four minutes left in the second and helped the Ducks cling to that 4-3 lead until the end of the period.
"If you have four goals, it can be dangerous," Hiller said. "They knew they had to do something. They scored two quick goals and were back in the game. At the end, we have to take the positives. We found a way to win. That is what it important right now."
Neither team did any more damage for the greater part of the third, partly because of stellar play by the two goaltenders. Jonas Hiller had 41 saves in the game for the Ducks and Ryan Miller was his usual self after substituting in for Lalime after the fourth Anaheim goal.
But the Ducks finally got something past Miller when rookie Bodie supplied a vital insurance marker with just 4:07 left. Bodie intercepted a Jason Pominville pass in the Buffalo zone and quickly lifted a shot past Miller stick side to give Anaheim a 5-3 lead.
Miller was on the bench for an extra attacker when Jochen Hecht punched in a one-timer from in deep with 52.2 seconds left. But that was as close as Buffalo got, as the Ducks gave them few opportunities over the tense closing moments.
"Bodie got a huge goal for us there late in the third period," Getzlaf said. "Those are things that we need to win hockey games. Tonight wasn’t the prettiest effort throughout the whole game, but we were able to get that early lead and hold it."
Anaheim now leaves Orange County to play their next six games on the road, starting with Thursday night at San Jose.
"We’ve played pretty well at home lately," Hiller said. "At least we got the points and found ways to win. We have to do the same thing on the road now. We have that confidence that we can win every game. We have to keep going. It’s not going to come by itself. We have to work hard, especially if we can start like tonight and play 60 minutes."
The Ducks have gone 7-1-0 in their last eight games and 9-3-1 in the last 13.
The club now has an eight-game win streak at HOME, the longest active streak in the league and ties for the second-longest in the NHL this season (Phoenix, 10 and Chicago, 8). It’s the longest at Honda Center since Feb. 17-Mar. 26, 2008 when Anaheim strung together a franchise-record 10 wins at home. The club has picked up points at home in nine straight (8-0-1), 13 of the last 14 (11-1-2) and 16 of 18 (14-2-2).
With tonight’s win, the Ducks extended their win streak vs. Buffalo to four games dating back to Dec. 5, 2007 at Honda Center.
Over the last four games, the Ducks have killed 14 of the last 15 penalties for a 93.3% success rate.
Bobby Ryan has scored goals in two straight games (2-0=2) and earned points in seven of the last eight contests at HOME (6-5=11). He’s also picked up points in four of the last five contests overall (2-3=5). His 22 goals on the season lead the league among US-born players.
Corey Perry has points in seven of the last eight games (3-4=7) overall and in five straight at HOME (2-3=5).
Ryan Getzlaf (1-1=2 tonight) has earned points in 10 of the last 11 HOME games (5-8=13) he’s played in. He’s also collected points in three of the last four contests overall (2-2=4).
Evgeny Artyukhin matched a career-high with his current two-game goal streak (2-1=3). It is the fourth such streak of his career (last: Oct. 6-8, 2009; 2-0=2). His 1-1=2 points tonight also matches a career-high (four times, last: Jan. 3, 2010; 0-2=2).
Troy Bodie has scored a goal in each of the last two games (2-0=2) and his goal tonight marked his first career game-winning goal.
Jonas Hiller has won seven of his last eight games (7-1-0) with a .922 SV % (236-of-256) and 2.65 GAA (20 GA/453 MIN) during that span. His 41 saves tonight were one short of his season-high (42 saves, Jan. 10 @ CHI).
Tonight’s attendance was 15,570.
20:00 - END OF GAME - Despite racing out to a 4-0 lead, the Ducks still have to hang on in the closing seconds to secure a 5-4 victory.
19:55 - Marchant makes a big play to knock the puck away at the blue line.
19:15 - Miller to the bench again.
19:07 - BUFFALO GOAL - JOCHEN HECHT - The Sabres pull within one as Hecht takes a pass from behind the net by Pominville and one-times it just between Hiller and the near post.
18:40 - Miller to the bench. It's 6 on 5 for Buffalo.
18:30 - 44 shots on goal for Buffalo.
That's five goals for the Ducks, so get your free wings from Hooters.
15:53 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TROY BODIE - Absolutely monstrous goal for the Ducks, as Bodie intercepts a Jason Pominville pass in the Sabres end and lifts a shot from the slot over Miller stick side. It's 5-3 Anaheim.
14:28 - Perry picks up a loose puck at the blue line and fires from the low circle just wide.
13:49 - Ducks take a very wise timeout as their unit has to stay out after an icing call and Perry is actually bent over trying to catch his breath.
12:33 - Tense moment as Hiller traps the puck underneath himself and gets a whistle just before Jochen Hecht punches it over the stripe. The official on the scene quickly waves it off.
12:20 - Hiller gloves a shot in traffic. Can he carry this team to the horn?
11:20 - Grier gets on the rush and creates some room to fire a shot from the circle that hits the crossbar. Yikes.
10:51 - Whitney with an absolute rocket from the point that Miller gloves. Man, he's tough.
10:20 - Ryan looks like he might make something happen down the wing on a rush, but lets go of a tame backhander that Miller stops.
9:45 - Ducks get a couple shots at it in front, nothing through Miller.
9:07 - BUF Penalty - Clarke MacArthur, 2 min. interference. MacArthur sends Boynton spilling into the net. Possibly a huge opportunity for Anaheim.
7:21 - Hiller makes a stop on a Montador shot, the 37th of the game for Buffalo. Ducks with 24, just four this period.
5:54 - Hiller takes it in the chest on a Montador slapper.
4:55 - Miller pops out to make a nice save on a Beleskey shot from the slot. He's going to be tough to score on the rest of this night.
3:45 - Right after the penalty expires, Hiller with a big kick stop as MacArthur tries to force one in.
3:00 - Ducks not letting much go on so far on this power play.
1:35 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Getzlaf, 2 min. holding. During the delay, Hiller makes a big stop on a Connolly one-timer from the slot.
0:00 - Here we go in what promises to be an interesting third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - A phenomenal first period gives way to an awful second as a 4-0 lead for Anaheim is now 4-3.
19:57 - Getzlaf gets careless with the puck in the corner and send it right to the middle of the ice, where Roy pounces, but Perry slides on his side to block any thoughts of a shot.
19:31 - Another big penalty kill as Marchant comes racing out of the box.
18:40 - Hiller with a mask save off a hard shot by Myers.
17:31 - ANA Penalty - Todd Marchant, 2 min. holding. Marchant grabs the sholder of Drew Stafford going for the puck in the corner.
17:25 - Bodie with a slap shot on the run, kicked away by Miller. Ducks sure could use one right now.
16:51 - Beleskey with a big blocked shot right in front of the net as big Tyler Myers tries to pour one in.
Getzlaf is back, skating out on the ice after the TV timeout. Great to see. Although, his face above his eye doesn't look to hot.
15:14 - Big kill for the Ducks. Big Del Taco taco for all in attendance.
13:14 - ANA Penalty - Steve Eminger, 2 min. slashing. Eminger takes a swing with a stick into the chest of Derek Roy on front of the net and knocks a flailing Roy down.
It's 3-0 Sharks over the Kings after 1 period, by the way.
We'll try to keep you posted on Getzlaf.
7:15 - Bodie tries to tip one through, but it goes just about a foot wide.
6:36 - Just when you think things can't get worse for the Ducks, a Beleskey pass out of the Anaheim end hits Getzlaf square in the face. He quickly gets off the ice bleeding profusely, getting a towel to stop the bleeding from around his eye on his way to the locker room.
6:12 - BUFFALO GOAL - STEVE MONTADOR - Former Duck Montador intercepts an Eminger pass out of the corner, races into the slot and slips a backhand under Hiller. All of a sudden, the Ducks lead by just one, 4-3.
It's Ducks Trivia Challenge time and Ryan from Dana Point (once the hometown of Adam Brady) is asked -- while Power Player Alex and her killer abs hold the microphone -- the name of the program on NHL Network that gives daily coverage and scores from around the league. From a choice of three that I can't recall, he guesses "NHL on the Fly" and he's right. Something tells me that was a league-driven trivia question.
4:10 - Huge stop by Hiller as Vanek intercepts a pass from Wisniewski and is off on a breakaway. But Hiller forces him wide into a bad-angle shot.
0:51 - BUFFALO GOAL - CLARKE MACARTHUR - Another quick one for the Sabres as a Paul Gaustad one-timer off a pass from behind the net rebounds off Hiller, and MacArthur is able to chip in the rebound past Hiller's outstretched stick. It's an "uh oh" moment for Anaheim, 4-2.
0:23 - BUFFALO GOAL (POWER PLAY) - TIM CONNOLLY - Buffalo gets one back in a hurry, as a Vanek one-timer bounces off Hiller in front, and during a scramble in which Hiller is knocked backwards, Connolly is able to poke it through. Anaheim lead cut to 4-1.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
1st Period 20:00 - END OF PERIOD - An epic, record-breaking first period comes to a close with the Ducks already up 4-0. Wow.
19:33 - ANA Penalty - Evgeny Artyukhin, 2 min. roughing. Ryan Carter gets blasted at the red line with a forearm by Patrick Kaleta, leading to Ducks teammates to come in and start some mess. Somehow, the only penalty goes to Artyukhin. Poor Carter already has a broken nose from that L.A. game last week.
Another record. The FOUR GOALS in 10:26 were the fastest since December 21, 2005, when Selanne, McDonald, Pahlsson and Tyler Wright scored four aginast St. Louis in 11:09.
15:34 - Beleskey with a shot on net that creates a rebound Perry can't chip through. I think the better goalie might be in there right now.
Not much noise from the plethora of visiting Sabres fans right now.
13:58 - Ducks nearly get a fifth as Niedermayer softly throws one on net with a one-timer and Perry repeatedly jabs at it before Miller falls backwards on it. I swear, good things seem to happen when Niedermayer throws that knuckleball in.
By the way, the first two goals in 1:53 were also the fastest in history, the previous mark being 2:18 on December 1, 2002. The three in 5:23 beat the record of 7:24 on the same date (Kariya, Chouinard and Kjellberg).
10:26 - Miller, who started last night for Buffalo, comes in for Lalime.
10:26 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - BOBBY RYAN - With the Ducks 5 on 4, Getzlaf slings a shot on net from the point that Ryan reaches up and tips through from the slot, just out of the reach of Lalime's glove. There is a video replay to determine whether it was touched with a high stick and, though it looked close, they rule it's a good goal. It's the 22nd of the year for BR and the Ducks are remarkably in front 4-0. Most goals in one period for them this year.
8:40 - BUF Penalty - Patrick Lalime, 2 min. slashing. With Perry screening with his back to Lalime, the goalie gets warned for slashing Perry in the ... um .. Coreys with an upward motion. He responds by slashing Perry again and gets the minor. Ducks will go on a 5 on 3 as soon as the Boynton minor expires.
8:10 - BUF Penalty - Paul Gaustad, 2 min. cross checking. After Hiller catches a fluttering ouck out of the air, Gaustad nails Eminger in the back into the net. Whitney goes right after Gaustad, leading to another scrap between the two teams.
7:50 - ANA Penalty - Nick Boynton and BUF Penalty - Adam Mair, 2 min. each roughing. Both guys get tagged after a mini brawl in front of the benches. Is it just me or have the Ducks been playing a lot of Adams lately?
Turns out that WAS the fastest three in Ducks history. More on that in a minute.
5:23 - ANAHEIM GOAL - MIKE BROWN - Artyukhin makes it happen again ("look at the size of that Russian!"), faking both Steve Montador and Toni Lydman out of their jocks before getting low on the left wing and throwing a pass in front that Brown chips through right in front of Lalime. If that's not the fastest three goals in Ducks history, I don't know what is. Sixth of the year for Brown, by far a career high.
1:53 - ANAHEIM GOAL - EVGENY ARTYUKHIN - Henrik Tallinder mishandles a puck that's coming at him after being rimmed around the back wall and it skitters to center ice, where Artyukhin uses his speed to chase it down and get way ahead of any Sabres. He's one-on-one with Lalime and gives a couple of soft dekes before seemingly effortlessly dropping a backhand inside the post. Second in as many games for the big Russian and it's 2-0 Ducks.
0:51 - ANAHEIM GOAL - RYAN GETZLAF - Getzlaf retrieves the puck along the wall and drops it to Perry, who barely manages to control it as he maneuvers from the left wing circle into the slot. He somehow manages to sling a blind shot on net that rebounds off Lalime to Getzlaf, who backhands it into the open net. An early 1-0 lead for the Ducks.
0:45 - Perry tries to tip a Niedermayer shot, saved by Lalime.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
7:07 p.m. - Disney contest winner Christine Berumen delivers the anthem. Starters in bold/italics. Scratches crossed out.