ANAHEIM – As big wins go, they don’t come much bigger than this one for the Anaheim Ducks.
The Ducks, looking desperately for their first win under new coach Bruce Boudreau, got a late Bobby Ryan goal and a late Jonas Hiller save to earn a dramatic 3-2 win over the rival Kings at Honda Center.
"It’s not the Cup, but it felt pretty good," said Boudreau, hired by the Ducks just last Wednesday. "There is no doubt. I felt really good for the players because they were smiling. They worked so hard."
Said Ryan, "It’s a whole different feeling coming into this room tonight. It’s huge."
Ryan broke a 2-2 tie with 48.8 seconds left in the game, running to the puck off a Teemu Selanne faceoff win and punching it toward the net, where it deflected off the shin of Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and fluttered over goalie Jonathan Quick’s shoulder. Ryan jumped into the glass behind the net as the Honda Center crowd went berserk.
"There was a lot of traffic," said Ryan, who had two goals on the night. "I don’t know if it hit anything on the way in or not. It was a little bit of a changeup in speed and just found a way to go in."
Anaheim’s work wasn’t done, as the Kings emptied the net in the final seconds and nearly got the equalizer as the puck bounced in front of the Ducks’ net. But Hiller dove into his crease to thwart a Jack Johnson bid from point blank with two seconds left, igniting the home crowd as time ran out.
"Teemu told me this morning that things were going to start," said Ryan, who entered tonight with just seven goals. "He’s been through it a little bit in the past, not to this extent. It’s nice to rely on a guy who has scored that many goals, when he tells you that you’ll come out of it. For him to predict it tonight was huge."
The Ducks carried a 2-1 lead into the third period, but an unlucky break allowed the Kings to tie it with 11 minutes left in the game. A Cam Fowler clearing attempt took a bad bounce off the seam in the glass, ending up on the stick of Justin Williams. He dropped the puck to Jarret Stoll, who gave it back to Williams on the doorstep for the goal.
"It was a bad luck play," Hiller said. "Those things happen. I thought we didn’t panic after that. We played solid and created our chances. We worked really hard. If you work hard, you are going to get bounces. That is what we got on that third goal."
Hiller was a big reason the Ducks gave up nothing further, as 22 of his 37 saves came in a third period in which the Kings outshot the Ducks 23-8. But the last Anaheim shot was Ryan's late goal, which could be considered the most important in a Ducks season that has been otherwise filled with frustration.
"We had a great start again," Hiller said. "I thought we were really sticking to our gameplan. We wanted to put pressure on them and not give them too much. We created a lot of turnovers at their blue line or in the middle of the zone. We said we wanted to keep it going for 60 minutes. Sure, in the third we probably backed off a little too much. But I thought we were playing really hard and solid."
For the third straight game (the first two Ducks losses), Anaheim jumped out to a 2-0 lead, this time on first period goals by Ryan and Corey Perry. Just under eight minutes into the game, Quick gave the puck away behind his own net, leading to Selanne shuttling it quickly into the slot. It hit off the foot of Anze Kopitar to the stick of Ryan, who was knocked down while sending it through as Quick scrambled to get back in front. Selanne, by the way, was playing his 800th game as a Duck.
Perry gave the Ducks a two-goal cushion on his 12th of the year with 2:23 left in the first, as linemate Ryan Getzlaf worked to separate himself from Colin Fraser before sending a pinpoint pass in front that Perry chipped through.
Anaheim held onto that lead until 15.9 seconds remained in the second, as the Kings this time took advantage of an out-of-position goalie. Hiller got caught up with Anze Kopitar as he crashed the net, and was out of the crease when Dustin Penner slid the puck to rookie Slava Voynov, who sent it past the diving goalie.
"Had it gone the other way after another lead like that, I was a little worried about it," Bourdreau said. "We got a lucky break [on the Ryan goal], but they got a lucky break [on the Williams goal]. So, it sort of evened out."
The Ducks earned their first win in the bitter Freeway Face-Off rivalry with the Kings, having lost consecutive home-and-home games last month. It also was just their second victory in the last 11 games (dating back to those two games vs. L.A.), as they improved to 8-14-5.
After spending 30 of the last 31 days at home, the Ducks embark on a two-game road trip, visiting St. Louis on Thursday (5 p.m. PST) and Nashville on Saturday (5:30 p.m. PST). Seven of the club’s next eight contests take place on the road. Anaheim’s next contest at HOME is next Wednesday, Dec. 14 vs. Phoenix at Honda Center (7:05 p.m.).
Tonight marked Bobby Ryan’s third multi-goal game of the season (2-0=2). It was his first game-winning goal of the season and the 12th of his career (last: Mar. 2, 2011 vs. DET).
Corey Perry scored his 12th goal of the season tonight. In the last 10 games, he has scored 6-6=12 points, earning at least one point in nine of the 10.
With an assist in tonight’s contest, Matt Beleskey has extended his assist streak to a career-high three games (0-3=3). He has now strung points together in three straight games on three occasions (last: Mar. 19-23, 2010; 2-1=3).
Recording his second consecutive multi-point game (0-2=2 tonight) and eighth of the season tonight, Teemu Selanne has a three-game point streak (1-4=5) and has scored 4-8=12 points in the last 10 games. With 646-721=1,367 points in 1,286 career contests, Selanne is now just two points shy of tying Johnny Bucyk for 23rd in all-time NHL points.
Including an assist tonight, Ryan Getzlaf has points in nine of the last 10 games (2-10=12).
Jonas Hiller earned his seventh win of the season, stopping 37-of-39 shots in tonight’s contest.
Tonight’s attendance was 14,419.
20:00 - END OF GAME - Ducks win a huge one, 3-2.
19:58 - Hiller dives to keep Johnson from knocking in a loose puck, just before the clock hits zero.
19:11 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - Right off a Selanne-won draw, Ryan steps into the bottom of the circle and chips the puck toward the net, as it hits off a Doughty's leg and flutters over Quick's shoulder. Ryan jumps into the glass as the crowd goes berserk. It's 3-2 Ducks.
19:07 - Cogliano with a shot that Quick holds, allowing the Ducks to get Selanne, Koivu and Ryan out there for the final minute.
18:42 - Getzlaf picks off the puck at the blue line and absolutely rifles a shot just wide. Wow.
17:52 - Gagne works for a shot that Hiller kicks up to himself and holds on.
17:02 - TV timeout with 2:58 left and the game tied 2-2. Nervous time in here.
15:46 - Crucial kill for the Ducks as Getzlaf clears it all the way down.
15:41 - Gagne looks to pass, then tries to jam it under Hiller, but he holds his ground.
15:06 - Ducks spend some shorthanded time in the Kings' end before a stoppage is called. Faceoff outside the Kings' blue line as they call timeout with 4:54 left.
13:46 - ANA Penalty - Toni Lydman, 2 min. interference. Lydman rides Moreau into the wall after a dump-in and possibly hangs on too long. That's a tough one to call.
12:40 - Doughty gets knocked down by Perry, no call. Doughty slams the stick on the ice to complain, also no call.
11:58 - Hiller makes what could be a game-saving save on Stoll, who got between the defense off a stretch pass from Doughty to get on a breakaway in front of Getzlaf.
8:50 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - JUSTIN WILLIAMS - Bad break for the Ducks as Fowler tries to clear it off the glass, but it takes an unexpected hop off the glass and ends up on Williams' stick. He drops it to Stoll, who gives it back to Williams in the crease for the punch-in. We're tied 2-2.
8:35 - Hiller holds in his belly a Williams shot from just inside the blue line.
7:30 - Hiller withstands a few Kings shot. Ducks need to tilt the ice in the other direction.
6:17 - Kings kill without much trouble, but then the Ducks get a one-timer from Koivu that Quick stops.
4:10 - Now Cogliano on that first unit with 4, 8, 10 and 15.
4:06 - LAK Penalty - Dustin Penner, 2 min. slashing. Penner tries to get back after losing the puck and slashes Ryan.
2:20 - Nice blocker save by Hiller on Hunter.
0:39 - ANA Penalty - Niklas Hagman, 2 min, interference. Hagman runs into a King away from the puck near the benches.
0:00 - Absolutely huge period for the Ducks.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Middle period ends on a sour note as Voynov cuts the Ducks' lead in half. Ducks played well in it.
19:44 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - SLAVA VOYNOV - Hiller gets caught up with Kopitar as he crashes the net moving right to left, taking Hiller with them. He's way out of position as Penner gets the puck and slides it across to Voynov, who knocks it through past a diving Hiller with 15.9 left. It's 2-1 Ducks.
16:21 - Ducks don't convert. Power play goal would have been huge here.
15:30 - Hagman on the PP with Fowler, Getzlaf, Perry and Selanne.
15:11 - Some pushing and shoving after the Ducks jam away at a loose puck near Quick,. but the Ducks won't take the bait.
14:21 - LAK Penalty - Drew Doughty, 2 min. tripping. Doughty takes down Perry, who sees the ice up close yet again. First PP of the game for either side.
13:00 - Ducks come close yet again, as right off the draw, Quick is caught outside the left post, but Perry can't fish it out from under him with the net wide open. Perry gets knocked down again, but he's okay.
12:55 - Ryan with a backhand pass that bounces nicely to Selanne, who can't jam it through Quick from right in front.
13:20 - Selanne battles to get the puck away from King, and it bounces to Ryan, who doesn't get good wood on it and sends it wide.
11:35 - Perry just misses burying a bouncing puck just outside the crease.
9:05 - Selanne's shot rebounds hard off Quick, and Brookbank slaps it just wide.
8:00 - Perry back out on the ice, forces Kopitar to give up the puck.
7:40 - Beleskey gets a fortunate bounce as the puck comes to him wide open on right wing, but he fires wide.
6:27 - Perry, thankfull, back on the Ducks bench. Might still be in some pain. Crowd lights up when they see him on the video board.
5:56 - Cogliano speeds down left wing and feeds an open Hagman for the one-timer that Quick absorbs. Nice save, darnit.
4:25 - Perry looks badly shaken up as he goes down awkwardly near Penner trying to fight fo the puck near the Ducks' blue line. Penner, for some reason, presses him in the small of the back as he's down. Kings fans classily chanting his name. He's slow to get up and heads slowly into the locker room. Not good.
0:00 - Off and running in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD -- Good news: The Ducks went up 2-0. Bad news: They did the same thing the last two games.
19:45 - Cogliano makes my favorite NHL 12 move -- cut to the slot and fire the wrister -- but this one is kicked away by Quick. Pretty much what happens to me too.
17:37 - ANAHEIM GOAL - COREY PERRY - Getzlaf works to separate himself from Fraser in the corner, then spots Perry in front for the perfect pass and punch-in. Ducks go up 2-0 on Perry's 12th goal and 23rd point of the season.
16:15 - Smith-Pelly comes oh-so-close to slipping in his own rebound off the end boards. Ducks and Kings fans gasp.
Ducks fan yells to Kings fan brandishing a Duck hanging by a noose, "You've got no Stanley Cup!" Kings fan yells back, "You've got no hair!"
15:30 - Hiller knocks down a Williams shot with the glove and the Kings can't punch in the rebound.
7:59 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - Quick goes behind the net to play the puck and gives it away to Selanne, who quickly tries to shuttle it to the slot as Quick scrambles back. The puck kicks off Kopitar's leg to Ryan, who sends it past a still-out-of-position Quick as he's knocked down by Doughty. Beautiful play by both Selanne and Ryan and it's 1-0 Ducks. Third straight game they've scored first.
7:29 - Hiller with a nice stop on former Duck Penner.
3:10 - Parros very active already. Had a scoring chance that went just wide.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
7:04 p.m. - Kings fans classy as ever with some anti-Duck shouting in the middle of the anthem.
Selanne, Ryan and Koivu to start. Gordon healthy scratched for the first time this year. Parros in there for the first time after missing 13 games with the eye injury. Starters in bold/italics.