ANAHEIM – Bobby Ryan was asked by a TV reporter between periods what he thought would make the perfect birthday present.
"Two points," he said.
And on the day he turned 23 years old, he helped make that happen. The Ducks winger found the net twice, including a huge insurance empty-netter late in the third, to pace the Ducks to a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. It was the second straight win for the Ducks, and the second in a row over a Western Conference power, as they took down frontrunner San Jose on Sunday.
It was also the third win in four meetings for the Ducks over the Hawks, who have dropped three straight and four of their last five overall. The Ducks, meanwhile, appear to be bouncing back from a five-game skid with little time left to climb into the playoff race.
"It was an emotional game and both teams were desperate for points," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "We knew them coming in here and having lost their last two hockey games that they were going to be a little bit of a grouchy hockey club. We have to be grouchy in the situation we’re. It was two teams competing and when the physical element of the game gets up there, it’s up to people to respond."
Ryan tied his career high (set in his rookie year last year) with his 31st goal at a time when the Ducks needed the insurance while clinging to a one-goal lead. Seconds after Chicago goalie Corey Crawford headed to the bench, James Wisniewski got the puck to Ryan just past the red line and he put it right in the middle of the net. The goal was followed by a brawl starring Wisniewski and former Duck Nick Boynton in which Wisniewski got the clear decision after landing a series of blows. Boynton, traded by the Ducks to Chicago earlier this month, was recently recalled to take the place of injured defenseman Brian Campbell.
There were also fisticuffs following the go-ahead goal for the Ducks, which came with 5:36 left in the game. Waiting for the puck to come down out of the air, Brent Sopel jumped and fell to the ice with Corey Perry pressing him in the back. That allowed Perry to get the puck to Saku Koivu between the circles and he rifled it through.
"The puck just popped in between the circles and I was able to get a good shot," Koivu said.
Perry, meanwhile, took a retaliatory hit from Chicago’s Dave Bolland, igniting a fracas.
But it did little to take away from a huge Anaheim goal that came in response to Chicago tying the game 5:12 into the third on a tipped redirect by Marian Hossa.
Ryan first filled the net just 4:08 into the game, one-timing a Perry pass from the slot.
But the Blackhawks made it 1-1 when Brent Seabrook fired a wide open slap shot from the high slot, and it got under Jonas Hiller’s arm before deflecting in off the inside of the post.
Seabrook, however, would see his night cut short early in the second period, when he took a wicked hit from Wisniewski (a former Blackhawk) against the glass and crumpled to the ice. Wisniewski, who was avenging a hit earlier by Seabrook on Perry, was immediately confronted by Duncan Keith, who Wisniewski pummeled with a series of rights. Both Wisniewski and Keith got fighting majors, while Wisniewski got two minutes for charging. Seabrook didn’t return to the game with what was officially labeled an upper body injury.
"It was great for James Wisniewski to come in and stick up for his teammates," said Todd Marchant, who had Anaheim's second goal. "We had a lot of that tonight. It just goes to show you how tight this group is and how everybody wants to stand up for one another."
Of Wisniewski, Carlyle said, "It was probably the best game he’s played as a Duck."
A little more than four minutes after the scuffle, Marchant scored a thrilling shorthanded goal that stemmed from a poor decision by Crawford. The rookie came way out of his crease to tip away a rolling puck, and was stuck in no-man’s land when it ended up on Kyle Chipchura’s stick. He quickly sent it to Marchant in the slot, who fired it past Dustin Byfuglien taking the goalie’s place in front of the net.
Crawford was recalled yesterday to take the place of Cristobal Huet, who was out with the flu.
Teemu Selanne, in his quest for his 600th career goal, had a couple of good looks among his five shots on the night, but couldn't get any through. Selanne was questionable for the game after injuring his shoulder in the San Jose game on Sunday. Ryan Getzlaf, who tweaked his previously injured ankle in that game, was scratched tonight.
The Ducks, who can afford few missteps down the stretch of the regular season, get at it again at Honda Center against the Islanders on Friday night.
"We can’t let up for one minute," said Marchant. "We know our situation and where we’re at. We have to keep pushing. You never know what game or point could cost you in the end."
The Ducks are 13-3-2 in the last 18 at HOME.
With tonight’s win, the Ducks are 6-1-0 in their last seven HOME games vs. Chicago. Since 1998-99, Anaheim has compiled a 17-2-3 record in its last 21 HOME games against the Blackhawks. The Ducks complete the season series vs. Chicago with a 3-1-0 record.
With two assists tonight, Corey Perry has established a new career-high in assists with 41 (previously 40, 2008-09). He has 5-10=15 points in the last 14 contests and has earned points in 13 of the last 14 contests at HOME (5-11=16).
With two goals tonight, Bobby Ryan has a two-game goal streak (3-1=4) and 6-5=11 points in his last 11 games. His 31 goals on the season match his personal-high set in 2008-09 (31-26=57). Ryan has scored 12-10=22 points in his last 18 contests at HOME.
Todd Marchant’s shorthanded goal was his third shorthanded goal of the season and 28th of his career. Eight of those 28 shorthanded goals have come with the Ducks, ranking third on the team’s all-time list (Kariya, 16 & Pahlsson, 9)
With his game-winning goal, Saku Koivu has tied Ryan Getzlaf for the team-lead in game-winners this season (5). It was also the 40th game-winner of his career. Koivu has 1-3=4 points in the last two games.
With an assist this evening, Lubomir Visnovsky has earned points in four of the last five games (3-1=4).
In has last two appearances (2-1-0 record), Jonas Hiller has stopped 96-of-101 shots for a .950 SV% and 1.78 GAA (5 GA/169 MIN).
Tonight’s attendance was 15,243.
20:00 - END OF GAME - Second straight great performance for the Ducks, as they knock off another West power, 4-2.
19:45 - Crawford to the bench again.
19:07 - ANAHEIM GOAL (EMPTY NET) - BOBBY RYAN - With the Chicago net empty, Wisniewski sends it ahead to Ryan just in front of the red line and he puts it right in the middle of the cage to put this game away. Second of the game for the birthday boy and it's 4-2 Ducks with 52.8 left. Wisniewki and Nick Boynton brawl after the goal, with Wisniewski beating the holy heck out of his former teammate.
19:00 - Crawford to the bench.
18:07 - Selanne finds the puck in the slot, spins and fires, but Crawford is ready.
17:20 - Brookbank with two straight shots from the point that miss by a mile.
15:43 - Hiller stops and holds on a Keith drive. More of that please.
14:24 - ANA Penalty - Brett Festerling and CHI Penalty - Kris Versteeg, 2 min. each roughing. Both get involved too heavily in the brawl. We're 4 on 4.
14:24 - ANAHEIM GOAL - SAKU KOIVU - Waiting for the puck to come out of the air, Sopel feels Perry in his back and takes a dive to the ice. The puck comes down in the slot, where Koivu sends it for the go-ahead goal. During it all, Perry takes a hard hit in retaliation from Bolland and that ignites a brawl around the net. It does little to take away from the fact the Ducks lead it with 5:36 left.
14:00 - Visnovsky back on the ice after he could hardly walk minutes ago.
13:35 - Bolland a one-timer from the low circle, off the post.
12:40 - Nice save Hiller on a Byfuglien drive.
11:19 - ANA Bobby Ryan, 2 min. hooking. Hiller sprawls out to stop Hossa, who tips the puck to himself to get behind the defense, but Ryan takes the hook trying to catch him.
11:00 - Selanne backhands off a Sexton pass, saved.
9:30 - Hiller with a big stop on Ladd from the slot. He's keeping the Ducks in this.
8:28 - Not sure how it happened, but Visnovsky is banged up and goes to the bench in a lot of pain, limping off to the locker room.
7:20 - Ryan makes a nice pass to Perry in the slot, but his shot is knocked away with the glove.
5:12 - CHICAGO GOAL - MARIAN HOSSA - Keith gets a drop pass along the wall and slings it on net, where Hossa possibly tips it on its way and it appears Bolland tips it enough to change its direction and get it by Hiller. The officials go to the headset for the video review to see if he touched it with a high stick, but it's determined it's a good goal. The official announcement originally gives it to Keith, but it's changed to Hossa. Kind of strange since it looked like Bolland touched it. Either way, we're tied.
2:45 - From a bad angle, Jordan Henry sneaks a shot behind Hiller that dances on the happy side of the stripe.
0:50 - Selanne kicks the puck to himself on a sprint down the wing and fires a shot off Crawford.
0:17 - A few seconds in and Byfuglien rings the crossbar with a point shot. Not a good sign.
0:00 - Here we go in the third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Marchant's shortie puts the Ducks in front 2-1.
19:50 - Ducks get on the rush and a pinching Wiz dives to take in a pass and fire a shot. If he had held back, he had No. 8 behind him wanting to fill that slot.
19:10 - Perry tips a shot by Brookbank off the post. Even if it had gone in, might not have counted since Perry touched it pretty high.
18:40 - BR fires from a tough angle near the post, a bit wide.
12:57 - Selanne makes a great headman pass to set up Sexton on the breakaway. He dekes to the backhand, but can't lift it past Crawford.
12:10 - Selanne hits the side of the net with a slap shot from the circle, fooling some who thought it might be in.
Seabrook has an upper body injury and will not return. I'm guessing it's the head, if you saw the way he collapsed after that hit.
8:34 - ANA Penalty - Sheldon Brookbank, 2 min. cross checking. Brookbank gets a little aggressive in front of the net.
7:50 - Scary moment as Niedermayer nearly kicks the puck into his own net, but Hiller's skate kicks it away.
6:27 - ANAHEIM GOAL (SHORTHANDED) - TODD MARCHANT - Thrilling goal for the Ducks as the puck rolls toward the Chicago end and Crawford makes the wrong decision to come way out to meet it. He tries to poke it away, but doesn't get much on it as it goes to Chipchura with Crawford still way out in the circle. Chipchura sends it into the slot to Marchant, who shoots it past Byfuglien standing in front of the net and waving his stick at it. Huge ovation from the crowd and it's 2-1 Ducks. Third shortie of the year and eighth with the Ducks for Marchant, third on the team's all-time list.
Kiss Cam has been given a St. Patrick's Day theme as fans are asked to kiss the animated Blarney Stone shown on the Honda Vision. It's kind of a confusing moment for the lot of people, and the Chicago fan who is booed when he's shown at the end refuses to comply.
6:04 - ANA Penalty - Sheldon Brookbank, 2 min. slashing . Somewhat of an exciting moment when the Blackhawks lose control of the puck during the delayed whistle and it rolls toward the goal that Crawford abandoned. But it's about 10 feet wide.
2:22 - ANA Penalty - James Wisniewski, 2 min. charging and 5 min. fighting and CHI Penalty - Duncan Keith, 2 min. holding and 5 min. fighting. Wisniewski drills Seabrook behind the Chicago net (retribution for a hit seconds earlier by Seabrook on Perry), hitting him so hard he immediately turns into a ragdoll (think Apollo Creed in Rocky IV). Wiz is immediately confronted by former teammate Duncan Keith, who he promptly pummels with several rights to the head before taking him down. Wow.
1:10 - Ducks nearly get one twice, as a point shot rings the plumbing and Blake nearly gets the putback.
0:56 - Visnovsky rockets a one-timer that Crawford gloves.
0:00 - Off and running in the second, the Ducks with two minutes of power play time.
Apparently Stevenson is Scottish and Northern English. Oh well. Bobby Ryan is definitely an Irish name though. So, kinda works.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The Ducks and Hawks battle to a 1-1 draw after one period.
20:00 - CHI Penalty - Ben Eager, 2 min. charging. At the horn, Eager's hit turns into a bit of pushing and shoving and then a 10-man scrum against the glass.
Okay, someone needs to help me out because Google isn't giving me anything definitive. Is Stevenson (Bobby Ryan's original last name) Irish? Anyone out there? Email me.
16:35 - Selanne takes it from Perry on the rush, but can't get an angle on it and fires wide.
15:36 - CHI Penalty - Dave Bolland, 2 min. hooking. First power play for either team.
12:55 - Slap shot from the point by Keith gets under Hiller and squirts just wide.
11:16 - CHICAGO GOAL - BRENT SEABROOK - Defensive breakdown for Anaheim, as Seabrook is given way too much time to fire a slap shot from the high slot, and it gets under Hiller's arm before hitting the inside of the post. It's 1-1.
9:53 - The puck gets sent to the point and slips under Brookbank's stick, but Hiller comes waaaayyy out of the net to slap it away, just beating Byfuglien to it. He loses his stick in the process, but is able to recover it.
7:30 - Hiller with another great stop, as Kane gets the puck on the doorstep and tries to stuff it in, but Hiller kicks out the pad.
6:55 - Toews picks up a turnover and races on a breakaway, but Hiller wills him into shooting it too high.
Green t-shirts for the Power Players on our first timeout. But not to worry. Still bare midriffs.
6:00 - Festerling with a nice takedown of Byfuglien (that's BUFF-lin) behind the Anaheim net.
4:08 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - And the birthday boy pots one. Perry gets the puck behind the net from tonight's linemate Ryan Carter and immediately feeds a charging, who slaps it home from the slot. It's the 30th of the year (after scoring 31 last year) and it's 1-0 Ducks.
1:30 - Birthday boy Ryan fires from the circle, a little wide.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
7:07 p.m. - Nicely done on the anthem by Brad Haynes.
Selanne is in for the Ducks and Getzlaf is out with the ankle injury. Starters in bold/italics. Scratches crossed out.