ANAHEIM – The Ducks would have liked nothing more than to finish their regular season on a winning note, but Jason LaBarbera had other ideas.
The Phoenix goalie was outstanding in net all night long, recording 43 saves to help the Coyotes down the Ducks in front of a standing-room only sellout crowd on Fan Appreciation Night at Honda Center. Radim Vrbata had a hat trick for the Coyotes in the final game of their season, as they did not qualify for the playoffs. Anaheim, meanwhile, found out before the game it will face Detroit in round 1 – the sixth postseason series between the two rivals.
Among LaBarbera’s stops on the net were a handful in the closing moments as the Ducks were desperately trying to tie the game with Viktor Fasth on the bench for an extra attacker. A number of Ducks had their shots at the equalizer, and they were finally buried when Antoine Vermette scored into the empty net with a second and a half remaining.
“I wanted to win," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "I wanted to get a good structured effort, and I think we had breakdowns in a lot of areas. The one thing we did get was effort. The opportunities to score were as many as we’ve had all year. We just didn’t put them in.”
The Coyotes opened the scoring 8:14 into the game when a rebound came to Vrbata in the right circle and he knocked it past a surprised Fasth.
Anaheim got even two minutes later as Teemu Selanne hit Patrick Maroon with a pass that he fumbled before backhanding it back to Selanne, who punched it just under the crossbar. “[Nick] Bonino and Patty [Patrick Maroon] were dangerous every shift," Selanne said. "It was a fun night. We lost, but I think we were still battling all the way through until the end. Overall, I think everybody’s happy. Nobody got hurt and we move on to the real games.”
Phoenix went back up with 2:24 left in the period as Francois Beauchemin and David Steckel ran into each other chasing former Duck Kyle Chipchura, whose shot was initially stopped by Fasth but trickled behind him over the stripe.
The Ducks evened it again on the power play just 14 seconds into the second stanza as Beauchemin aimed and fired a slap shot that sailed past a Corey Perry screen and beat LaBarbera.
Vrbata gave Phoenix its third lead 6:46 into the second when Fasth allowed a fat rebound off a shot from the wing and Vrbata batted it into the open net.
Vrbata netted his third of the game (for his fourth career hat trick) shorthanded 7:43 into the third period. Martin Hanzal went the other way and threw two shots off Fasth before recovering the puck behind the net and feeding in front to Vrbata for the one-timer.
The Ducks got within a goal just about halfway through the period, as Ryan Getzlaf made a cross-ice pass that Bobby Ryan redirected through from the slot.
But that was as close as they got, snapping a three-game losing streak to finish the regular season 30-12-6 and second in the Western Conference. The day and time of Game 1 of the opening round of the playoffs is still to be determined.
"I’m happy this is over," Selanne said. "Now it’s the best time of the year, starting right now.”
20:00 - END OF GAME - Ducks drop last regular season game of the year, 5-3.
19:58 - PHOENIX GOAL (EMPTY NET) - ANTOINE VERMETTE - Vrbata chases down the puck beneath the extended goal line and feeds into the crease, where Vermette puts it into the empty net. This one's over, 5-3.
19:45 - LaBarbera kicks away a Fowler one-timer.
19:27 - Maroon tries to tip through a Fowler bid, but guess who saves it?
19:09 - Bonino with a HUGE chance to tie it, and LaBarbera makes a lunging save. He's been incredible all night.
18:40 - Ducks net empty.
18:16 - "Final Countdown" plays as the Ducks come onto the ice out of a timeout. Definite tying goal now.
14:55 - Selanne is everywhere tonight, and came within inches of tying this game. Just wide left on a shot from the slot.
12:39 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Getzlaf, 2 min. hooking. Getzlaf gets the stick under Michalek's arm to wipe out the power play.
12:32 - PHX Penalty - Rostislav Klesla, 2 min. tripping. LaBarbera with a sprawling save on Selanne during the delayed whistle. He's playing out of his mind.
11:56 - LaBarbera with another big stop on Maroon, right on the doorstep again.
10:00 - Maroon nearly ties it with some action around the right side of the net.
9:33 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - Ducks get within a goal as Getzlaf makes a cross-ice pass that Ryan redirects for his 11th of the year. Crowd goes berserk as it's 4-3 Phoenix.
7:43 - PHOENIX GOAL (SHORTHANDED) - RADIM VRBATA - Hanzal goes the other way shorthanded after a Koivu turnover and fires two shots off Fasth. he recovers the puck behind the net and feeds in front to Vrbata, who sends it home for the hat trick. It's 4-2 Coyotes.
5:53 - PHX Penalty - Antoine Vermette, 2 min. interference. Vermette with a pretty obvious cross check on Koivu in front of the Yotes net. He'll sit for 2.
5:05 - Bonino, continuing to make things happen, gets slammed into LaBarbera by Yandle, and no penalty is called.
0:22 - Unlike the second, they do not score on it.
0:00 - Like the second, the Ducks start this period on the power play.
20:00 - Ducks and Yotes trade goals and it's 3-2 going into the third. Ducks with 22 seconds of power play time to start the third.
19:58 - Korpikoski dives to knock the puck out of the zone as the period heads to an end.
18:22 - PHX Penalty - Zbynek Michalek, 2 min. hooking. Michalek gets the stick stuck in Ryan's jersey. Another power play for a unit that's looked good lately.
13:25 - Selanne on the 2-on-1 with a feed to Bonino, and LaBarbera stacks the pads to deny him. You don't see that these days, other than the movie Miracle.
12:55 - Patrick Maroon making the most of his recent call-up and getting very active on that line with Selanne tonight.
8:45 - Selanne is knocked to his knees, and gets up just in time to try and bang in a rebound, but he's robbed by LaBarbera. That was close.
7:23 - Smith-Pelly with a bid from the right wing.
6:46 - PHOENIX GOAL - RADIM VRBATA - Vrbata gets his second of the net when Fasth allows a fat rebound off a shot from the wing and Vrbata bats it into the open net. Not the best night for Fasth and it's 3-2.
2:05 - ANA Penalty - Bench minor, 2 min. too many men on the ice.
0:14 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - FRANCOIS BEAUCHEMIN - Getzlaf backhands the puck over to Beauchemin, who surveys the scene before unleashing a slap shot that sails through a Perry screen and (finally) eludes LaBarbera. It's 2-2.
0:00 - Here we go in the second, the Ducks on the power play.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Coyotes get 2, Ducks get 1 as we head to the first break.
19:58 - Ducks with a number of chances around the net, but LaBarbera is on his head right now.
19:10 - ANA Penalty - Lauri Korpikoski, 2 min, tripping. Ryan steals the puck from Korpikoski, who gets his revenge. And two in the box.
17:36 - PHOENIX GOAL - KYLE CHIPCHURA - Not a lot goes right for Anaheim on this one, as Beauchemin falls down, and Steckel slams into him pursuing Chipchura, whose shot appears to be stopped by Fasth, but it trickles out the back of him. It's 2-1 Coyotes.
17:25 - Winnik drives hard to net, but LaBarbera holds his ground.
12:48 - Bonino with a beautiful zig-zag move to the net, but he's robbed by LaBarbera, and he slams the glass in frustration.
10:21 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TEEMU SELANNE- Bonino athletically touches up to keep the puck in the Phoenix end, feeding Selanne on the right wing. He hits Maroon, who fumbles it but backhands back to Selanne, who chips it just under the crossbar. Pretty sequence and it's 1-1.
8:14 - PHOENIX GOAL - RADIM VRBATA - Rebound comes out to Vrbata on the right wing circle, and he puts it back on net, past a surprised Fasth to put the Coyotes on the board.
7:40 - Perry gets around Schlemko and is denied by LaBarbera, who also stops Getzlaf's follow-up.
7:10 - Maroon with a wraparound try this time, and he's just barely denied.
5:15 - Bonino tries a wraparound but doesn't get enough on it and it skitters across the crease.
3:30 - Ryan gets out in front in the slot, and wrists a shot that LaBarbera kicks away. Looked like me might do Nashville Game 5 part 2.
2:04 - Winnik with a little pass to Koivu, who backhands into LaBarbera.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
Lengthy list of scratches with the Black Aces having been brought up today.
Starters in bold/italics.
KEITH YANDLE (A)
MARTIN HANZAL (A)
SHANE DOAN (C)
TEEMU SELANNE (A)
SAKU KOIVU (A)
RYAN GETZLAF (C)
1 - 0 PHX
1 - 1 Tie