ANAHEIM – It’s a mantra repeated one way or another more than once during this Ducks winning streak – it wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it.
The Ducks, looking a bit sluggish in the second game of a back-to-back, were still able to use a Saku Koivu goal and Curtis McElhinney’s first career shutout to blank the visiting New York Islanders 1-0 at Honda Center.
"We knew it was going to be tough," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. " We were playing a young, energized Islander team. Having played last night in San Jose, we knew it would be a tough struggle. These are the type of games that you almost have to win. In our situation, we couldn’t accept anything other than a win. That was our focus."
Two strings stayed intact in this one, as the Ducks (winners last night in San Jose) won their fifth in a row and the Isles dropped their eighth straight.
"It’s never easy to play back-to-backs, especially when the other team had a couple of days off," Koivu said. "They were fresh and were coming hard at us in the first period. You were able to tell that we didn’t have the jump that we usually have.
"When you have a tough schedule, with a lot of games and travel, you’re going to have nights where you’re not going to feel your best. Good teams find ways to win these games. We did tonight."
Anaheim got off to a rough start, not getting its first shot on goal until 18:14 into the first period, when Koivu fired one off Isles goalie Dwayne Roloson with the Ducks shorthanded. Koivu also had the most important Ducks shot of the night, as he scored the game’s only goal 3:40 into the third, his fourth in the last four games. On a Ducks rush, Teemu Selanne dropped the puck to rookie Cam Fowler, who deftly fed Koivu in the slot for the one-timer that sailed over Roloson’s glove.
That turned out to be all the Ducks needed, as they held strong in their own end and leaned on McElhinney’s 27 saves, as he earned Anaheim’s first shutout of the season. The 27-year-old got the nod after Jonas Hiller faced 41 shots in last night's 3-2 overtime win over the Sharks.
"It feels great," McElhinney said. "The last couple of games I’ve played it was five goals each night. This was a nice turn of events. To come back after a big game in San Jose last night and be able to keep the winning streak alive felt good."
The five straight wins is the longest Ducks streak since Jan. 5-13 of last season. It also equals, with Washington, the longest current win streak in the NHL.
"We didn’t play our best," Koivu said, "but when you get two points that is what matters. We have to keep working on things that we can improve."
Over the last 14 games, Anaheim has gone 9-4-1.Tonight also marked the Ducks’ first shutout of the season.
The Ducks also have a four-game winning streak at HOME dating back to Nov. 3 vs. TB. The club has gone 6-1-1 in its first eight contests at HOME this season.
Tonight marked Anaheim’s first shutout as a franchise at HOME vs. the New York Islanders. Anaheim has gone 4-4-4 in 12 contests vs. the Islanders at Honda Center.
Saku Koivu extended his point streak to a season-high four games (4-2=6). Coincidentally, it was Koivu who scored the OT-winning goal (ninth of his career) the last time the Islanders visited Honda Center on Mar. 19, 2010 in a 5-4 victory.
Teemu Selanne has points in five of the last six contests (2-6=8). He has also collected 5-8=13 over the last 11 and 7-10=17 in the last 14. His 7-11=18 points on the season rank tied for fourth in the NHL with Ryan Getzlaf and Brad Richards (Dallas).
20:00 - END OF GAME - Ducks win an ugly one, 1-0 as McElhinney gets his first career shutout.
19:30 - Finally Roloson to the bench.
19:15 - Isles can't send Roloson because they can't get it out of their end.
16:50 - Selanne gets on a partial breakaway after stealing the puck from Comeau, but Roloson nicely dives to poke the puck away on the deke.
16:30 - Islanders putting the pressure on, looking for that equalizer.
15:49 - NYI Penalty - Zenon Konopka, 10 min. misconduct and game misconduct. Konopka loses his you-know-what again, screaming at the official before being sent to the locker room and breaking his stick against the wall on his way there.
15:41 - Big kill for the Ducks, but no celebration as they ice the puck soon after Vish gets out of the bin.
13:33 - ANA Penalty - Lubomir Visnovsky, 2 min. delay of game. Vish lifts the puck over the glass in the corner.
13:15 - Perry has a ton of room on the right wing after a stretch pass, so he fakes a shot and tries a low wrister into Roloson, and he almost tips in the rebound.
9:07 - Ducks being outshot 25-10, but lead in the most important category.
3:40 - ANAHEIM GOAL - SAKU KOIVU - The Ducks finally break the ice when on the rush, Selanne drops the puck to Kid Fowler, who feeds to the high slot to Koivu for the pounded one-timer that flies over Roloson's glove. It's 1-0 Ducks on the sixth of the year for Koivu, fourth in as many games.
3:00 - Islanders missing the net a ton tonight. They've had a few scoring chances gone awry.
2:05 - Tavares gets in a little too deep for comfort, but Mac with the save just as Lilja shoves him down.
1:02 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Carter, 2 min. holding. Carter lifts up Martin in the corner and holds onto his leg for a little too long.
Just made a pact with a girl on our game night staff. No more press box cookies for either of us for the rest of the year. First to cave pays the other $20.
0:00 - Off and running in the third. First to score wins?
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Another less-than-barn-burner as we're still scoreless, with the Ducks being outshot 18-7. Just to add some excitement, Konopka shoves Visnovsky from behind for no reason whatsoever. Visnovsky shoves back, but no penalties, it appears.
18:00 - Soon after the Ducks escape on a 2 on 1 thanks to a shot way over the net, they just barely miss an open net as a pass to Selanne gets by him.
13:36 - ANA Penalty - Bobby Ryan, 2 min. holding the stick. Just as a lackluster power play is ending, Ryan dives for the puck to keep it in the zone and grabs ahold of the standing Nielsen's stick. Ryan not pleased.
11:34 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Carter, 5 min. fighting and NYI Penalty - Radek Martinek, 2 min. cross checking and 5 min. fighting. After Martinek cross checks Carter in front of the Anaheim bench, the two shake off the gloves and give it a go, with Carter landing a very hard right at the end before they fall to the ice. Give that one to Carts. Martinek gets two extra for the cross check.
Is it just me or does Isles coach Scott Gordon look like Eric Karros?
8:30 - ANA Penalty - Todd Marchant, 2 min. holding. Marchant gives Weight a bear hug from behind, perhaps flashing back to their brief time as teammates here. And Roloson continues to have a tough time, as he skates toward the bench during the delayed whistle and falls on his face.
7:50 - Roloson ddoesn't like that Perry bumps his head after the whistle, so he tries to fire the puck at him and throws it into his own net. That can't be good for business.
During the timeout, it's '70s Fan Cam, which basically means they show fans to the tune of a disco song. At one point,. the camera lands on a guy in a Kings t-shirt, who gets soundly (and deservedly) booed.
6:15 - Selanne gets on a rush with Koivu and makes a pass well behind him. Such a rare sight for 8, it was almost jarring.
4:38 - McElhinney makes a big stop on a Moulson one-timer, then Wisniewski tries to bat the puck in over his own head and it's quickly waved off. That happened last night in San Jose and the Ducks scored less than a minute later.
3:43 - Lilja launches a high wrister from the point that ties of Roloson, who falls over himself gloving it.
2:15 - Perry with a nice touch pass to a pinching Fowler, but he can't find the handle in the slot. Ducks looking much better so far in this one.
1:30 - Perry tries to force it in, and the puck gets under Roloson into the blue paint before it's swept away.
0:20 - Mara with a shot from the point of Roloson. Took 18:14 for the first shot, then just 20 seconds into the second period for the second one.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Not a period they'll be showing people to convince them to like hockey. Ducks get off just one shot to New York's seven and we're scoreless.
18:14 - Shorthanded, Koivu heads down the right wing and fires the first Anaheim shot of the game off Roloson, drawing sarcastic cheers from the home crowd.
Brookbank officially out with a strained right hamstring and listed as day to day (aren't we all).
4:11 - No shots on the PP for the Ducks, then they nearly give one up on the other end to Bailey, who beats Mara, but loses the handle in front of the net.
2:11 - NYI Penalty - Zenon Konopka, 2 min. kneeing. Former Duck Konopka sticks out the knee to flip around Blake at the blueline.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
7:08 p.m. - Cool moment before the opening faceoff as they honor the men and women of the military, showing some soldiers on the Honda Vision as the crowd applauds. We'll have photos of the Ducks skating in camouflage jerseys during warmups later.
McElhinney in net for the Ducks, Roloson for NYI. Luca Sbisa in the lineup for Anaheim. Starters in bold/italics. Scratches crossed out.