ANAHEIM – By the skin of their teeth, the Ducks hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche to halt a five-game losing skid.
The Ducks clung to a 3-2 lead in the closing seconds when they pinned the puck in the corner behind their own net. But with 0.8 seconds left on the clock, Milan Hejduk got off a bad-angle shot that somehow beat Ducks goalie Dan Ellis, touched off the crossbar and rang off the inside of the far post behind him as time expired.
"The last shot I didn’t see at all," Ellis admitted. "I was down trying to cover everything low and on that post. All of a sudden the puck came out of nowhere and hit me on the side of the head. I heard it hit a post. I was just praying that it hit the right post. Thank God it stayed out."
Ellis, who came to the Ducks in a trade with Tampa Bay last Thursday, earned his first victory in a Ducks uniform after losing in overtime two nights ago against Minnesota. For Anaheim, it was the seventh straight home win over the Avs, who sit second-to-last in the Western Conference.
"Any time a team goes through a difficult and a little bit of a slump, it’s always a gritty one that usually gets you out of it," Ellis said. "It’s not usually a blowout or a pretty one. The guys really mucked it out tonight."
The Ducks got the eventual game-winner 11:23 into the third period courtesy of Brandon McMillan during a four-minute power play that stemmed from Brandon Yip drawing blood on a high stick on Francois Beauchemin. About three minutes into that power play, Bobby Ryan one-timed a shot from the circle that snuck under goalie Peter Budaj and laid in the crease, where McMillan was able to swipe it through while falling to the ice.
Ryan nearly gave the Ducks a two-goal lead six minutes later when he tried a tumbling wraparound that eluded Budaj but clanged off the post. Regardless, the Ducks were able to hold on down the stretch with some post-related luck of their own.
Anaheim came out of a sluggish first period trailing the Avs 1-0 after Kevin Porter redirected a Matt Duchene pass to open the scoring 12:07 into the game.
"We didn’t have a very good start to the hockey game, but we built on our forechecking and got our game turned around in the second period," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "You have to credit our players. They stuck with the program."
Indeed, the Ducks showed more jump in the second, when Ryan Getzlaf and Todd Marchant both scored to them in front. Getzlaf converted just 1:43 into the period, when a Corey Perry pass kicked off Paul Stastny’s skate to the Ducks captain, who slung a wrist shot into the top corner of the net.
With just more than two minutes left in the session, Marchant got his long-awaited first of the year in sparkling fashion. On the rush, he dropped the puck to Luca Sbisa on the right wing, and Sbisa returned a backhand pass that Marchant knocked in with one hand.
"Jarkko Ruutu made a great play on the wall and got it to me," Marchant said. "Believe it or not, it’s something just about every team practices every day – get it wide and go to the net on a middle lane drive. Sbisa made a great play to put it back on my stick. All I did was just redirect it."
It was the first goal in 70 games for Marchant, dating back to March 17 of last year. "It’s certainly the longest of my career," he said. "I’m not sure what it was prior to this, but it wasn’t anywhere near this. I didn’t let it get me down mentally. I know I’ve got many other roles on this team besides scoring goals. The bottom line is it’s about wins this time of the year. It’s not about how many goals or assists I get. It’s about winning hockey games, getting into the playoffs and see how far it takes you."
The Ducks didn’t gain ground in the tight Western Conference with the victory, since Nashville and Chicago each won tonight, meaning Anaheim remains in 11th place. The Ducks look to keep the good times rolling on this seven-game homestand when they take on Detroit on Wednesday to start off what will be a crucial month of March.
"You have to find ways to get points at this time of the year," Carlyle said. "Hopefully this is a springboard for our hockey club to get back to playing the way we are quite capable of playing."
The Ducks improved their record at HOME to 18-10-2 this season. The club’s season-long seven-game homestand will continue on Wednesday vs. Detroit (Mar. 2). The homestand will close with contests vs. Dallas (Mar. 4), Vancouver (Mar. 9) and the NY Rangers (Mar. 9).
Anaheim has won seven of their last eight games (7-1-0) at HOME vs. Colorado, dating back to Feb. 25, 2007. Overall, the Ducks have won both meetings between the two teams this season (2-0-0) and are 12-2-0 vs. the Avalanche since the start of the 2007-08 season. They also have earned standings points in 15 of the last 18 (13-3-2) dating back to Nov. 22, 2006. The two clubs will meet twice more in 2010-11 (Mar. 11 at Pepsi Center and Mar. 28 at Honda Center).
Over his last six appearances (four with TB, two with ANA), Dan Ellis has stopped 147-of-159 shots for a .925 SV%, 1.98 GAA (12 GA/364 MIN) and 3-0-2 record.
Since his return from injury on Feb. 9, Ryan Getzlaf has collected points in each of the eight games in which he’s appeared (3-9=12). He missed Wednesday night’s contest (Feb. 23 vs. LA) after the birth of his first child.
Corey Perry has scored 6-11=17 points in his last 11 games, including an assist in tonight’s contest. His 31-37=68 points this season currently rank fifth in the NHL. Perry is just one goal shy of matching his career high set in 2008-09 (32).
With two assists tonight, Bobby Ryan has a three-game point streak (1-3=4) and points in six of the last seven contests (4-5=9). He has also scored 8-7=15 points in the last 13 and 14-10=24 in the last 20.
Todd Marchant scored his first goal of the season tonight and first since Mar. 17, 2010 vs. Chicago, ending a 70-game goal drought.
20:00 - Ducks hang on by the slimmest of margins, 3-2.
19:59 - Ducks hold it in the corner forever, but somehow Hejduk gets a shot off that hits the inside of the far post with 0.8 left.
19:47 - Ducks take a smart timeout.
19:47 - Lilja rims it around all the way down, and it misses the net by a couple feet for an icing call.
19:10 - Ducks ice it and Colorado takes timeout with 50.0 left.
18:40 - Budaj to the bench.
17:10 - Ryan gets the puck behind the net from Getzlaf and tries a wraparound as he's falling that clangs the post. Wow. That close.
13:00 - Beauchemin looks to put the Ducks up two goals with a rocket that Budaj just does glove.
11:23 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - BRANDON MCMILLAN - A mostly benign power play finally cashes in, as Ryan fires a one-timer that gets under Budaj and sits in the crease, where McMillan punches it through as he's falling to the ice. Big goal for the Ducks and it's 3-2.
10:30 - Sbisa has a loose puck at his feet right in front, but can't direct it.
8:19 - COL Penalty - Brandon Yip, 4 min. (double minor) high sticking. Yip clips Beauchemin in the ... lip? Maybe not. Either way, it's 4 minutes.
6:10 - Perry grabs the puck out of the air and feeds in front to Ryan, who can't guide it through.
1:43 - COLORADO GOAL - DAVID JONES - Jonas takes the feed from Hunwick on the breakout and fires a shot from the top of the left wing circle that just clears Ellis' glove. We're tied.
0:00 - Off and running in the third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Much better first for the Ducks, who get goals from Getzlaf and Marchant to take the 2-1 lead.
17:51 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TODD MARCHANT - Marchant gets his long-awaited first of the year and it's a beauty. He kicks the puck to himself to get on the rush, dropping it to Sbisa on the right wing as soon as they cross the blue line. Sbisa hits him right back with a backhand pass that Marchant tips through with one hand. He's absolutely thrilled as teammates mob him in the corner. Huge goal for both Marchant and the team, as it's 2-1 Ducks.
16:00 - A deflected shot from the point drops in front of Budaj, but McMillan's rebound try goes just wide.
15:00 - Ducks get a couple of chances in front, but can't convert.
13:16 - COL Penalty - Cameron Gaunce, 2 min. cross checking. Gaunce gets nailed again, this time for cross checking Blake in the back during a battle in the corner.
Trivia question is, who did the Ducks acquire from Colorado for goalie Michael Wall. Is it Chris Kunitz, Brad May or Travis Moen. Girl guesses May and she's right! May was the only trade deadline pickup the Ducks made in '07, and they went on to win the Cup a few months later. We'll see tomorrow how active they are, as the deadline is at noon Pacific.
11:55 - Getzlaf's pass in the middle is deflected by Selanne to Perry, who fires off Budaj from point blank. He lifts it and it's 2-1.
10:34 - COL Penalty - Cody McLeod, 2 min. tripping. McLeod takes down McMillan.
10:30 - Ryan comes off slowly as he possibly got hit by a Sbisa slap shot.
8:38 - COL Penalty - Paul Stastny, 2 min. holding. Ducks get on the run, but Perry's pass attempt gets knocked away, as Ryan gets knocked down by Stastny and goes bowling-balling into the back of the net on his rear.
7:20 - Ellis makes a good stop on a deflected puck with Stastny on top of him.
6:30 - Ryan, playing with Perry and Getzlaf again, spins and fires a shot from the deep left wing.
4:50 - A couple more just-misses for the Ducks in deep.
4:30 - Visnovsky with a one-timer that hits off Budah and trickles just wide.
1:43 - ANAHEIM GOAL - RYAN GETZLAF - Perry picks off a loose puck in the right wing circle and sends it in front, where it kicks off Stastny's skate to Getzlaf in the low slot. He fires from point blank into the top corner of the net. It's 1-1 on Getzlaf's 16th of the year.
1:30 - Visnovsky back on the ice. Good news. That looked ugly.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks are very quiet on the offensive end and give up one to Porter to go down 1-0.
19:40 - Visnovsky takes a tumble with the puck just behind the red line and he limps off into the locker room. That didn't look good.
16:52 - Blake gets on the run and tries to feed across to Marchant, who takes a spill and knocks the net off. No call.
It's Name that Theme Song during the timeout and contestant Kyle gets the unmistakeable theme from the Dukes of Hazard. Out of the choice between that, Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres, he guesses correctly. Nicely done, kid. "That's just a little bit more than the law will allow."
13:13 - McMillan gets on the shorthanded rush with Perry and tries a shot that Budaj knocks away with the blocker.
12:07 - COLORADO GOAL - KEVIN PORTER - Duchene chases down a puck in the corner and makes a soft little pass into the crease, where Porter just gets a stick on it to guide it through. It's 1-0 Avs.
11:42 - Ellis in good position to stop a Colorado shot that came out of a crowd.
8:51 - Sbisa makes Hejduk a permanent fixture in the glass in front of the penalty box and Gaunce (whose penalty expired) steps out of the box and goes right after Sbisa. Sbisa drills him with a couple of rights to the helmet and tkaes him down to the delight of the crowd. Five each for fighting.
During the timeout contest where we let fans sing, two horrible renditions of Livin' on a Prayer make my ears bleed.
6:45 - ANA Penalty - Jarkko Ruutu and COL Penalty - Cameron Gaunce, 2 min. each roughing. Rumble behind the net ends up with Gaunce on top of Ruutu and getting a few shots in.
3:30 - Selanne with Getzlaf and Perry.
2:47 - Another fight breaks out in the corner between Brookbank and McLeod, with Brookbank nailing McLeod with a couple of solid rights, before they run out of gas against the glass.
2:30 - Parros and Kovi square off at center ice, neither of them landing anything too jarring before Parros drags Kovi down and mutters a "Good job, bud." in his ear.
1:00 - Stoa beats Ellis from the slot, but it's off the far post. Close.
0:10 - Bob with Sexton and McMillan to start. We'll see if it stays that way.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
5:07 p.m. - Another nice job on the anthem by bespectacled Ducks intern Sarah Bennett.
Saku Koivu out for the third straight game with a sore groin. Starters in bold/italics.