In case you haven’t heard, the Anaheim Ducks have been riding a serious hot streak lately. Suffering only two losses since the start of December (19 games), the Ducks seem to keep finding ways to win.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said of the win streak, “I guess the best way is not to think about it. We don’t mention it. We don’t talk about anything. Make it a daily, one day at a time thing.”
One of these ways is by scoring a multitude of goals. The Ducks scored four or more goals in 10 of those 19 games. In addition to the four lines of offense that have maintained scoring consistency throughout the season, the Ducks are also getting offensive assistance from their defensive forces. In Saturday night’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes, a 5-3 Ducks victory, three of the Ducks goals came from two of their rookie D-men, Hampus Lindholm (2) and Sami Vatanen.
Another reason the Ducks have been able to keep winning is by not getting down on themselves when trailing in a game. On Jan. 5 when hosting the Vancouver Canucks, the Ducks found themselves down 2-0 after the first period but fought back for a 4-3 victory. This situation and result were repeated on Thursday when the Ducks were in Nashville playing the Predators.
However, in Sunday night’s contest against the Red Wings, the Ducks had more on their minds than just protecting their nearly perfect, 18-0-2, home record. While the Ducks beat the Red Wings 5-2 in December in Detroit, this was the first time the Wings had returned to Honda Center since they eliminated the Ducks in Game 7 of the Conference Quarterfinals last season.
“Nobody was happy at the end of last year,” Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller stated.
After winning the Pacific Division last season and gaining a second place overall conference seed, it’s safe to say that a first-round exit fell far short of the Ducks’ expectations. This season the Ducks’ motto is “Unfinished Business”; it’s on their T-shirts and in their locker room. And while Ducks have been atop the league standings multiple times this season and consistently over the last week, that was not at the forefront for this game.
With the reorganization of the NHL divisions and conferences over the summer, the Red Wings are no longer in the West. Therefore, this game was the only time during the regular season that the Ducks had to seek retribution on home ice against their one-time conference rival.
This was the first step to finishing their “Unfinished Business.”
It was apparent from the puck drop that there was animosity between the two teams. However, despite a few scoring opportunities for each team, the first period ended scoreless.
During the second period the Ducks had more scoring chances, and after they gained control of the puck after a Detroit turnover in their own zone, Andrew Cogliano scored and gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead going into the third.
“That’s really a playoff game,” Cogliano commented on the closeness of the game. “Every night you can’t create a ton of offense…sometimes you’ve just got to bear down and play good defense and squeak games out.”
The Red Wings threw everything they could muster at Hiller and even had a power play opportunity with less than four minutes left in the game, but Hiller stopped all 22 shots he faced in the game, got the shutout, and gave the Ducks a 1-0 win.
It was the first shutout for the Ducks since Nov. 22 when they played the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It’s nice to get a win against Detroit even though they’re not in our conference anymore,” Hiller added while wearing his “Unfinished Business” t-shirt.
Up next for the Ducks is another visit from Canucks on Wednesday, when the Ducks will look to earn their 20th home ice victory of the season and extend their streak.
The Ducks are the fifth team in NHL history to win 17+ games in an 18 game span. The 2009-2010 Washington Capitals are one of the other five teams, and Boudreau also coached them at the time.
Jonas Hiller is currently riding a 14-game winning streak, the longest by any goalie in franchise history.