Shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday night the Academy Awards began in Hollywood.
At about the same time, just a short ride down the freeway, the Anaheim Ducks took to the ice to face the Colorado Avalanche.
However, unlike the Oscar nominees, whose night just might turn into the best of their lives, the Ducks were just fighting to stay alive. They started the evening three points out of playoff contention and in 11th place in the Western conference. The Avalanche were in 14th and 13 points back.
Earlier in the day sources close to the Ducks implied that the Ducks acknowledged that this game was going to be a “must-win” for them to even have a shot at a playoff run. The Ducks following three opponents would be the Detroit Red Wings, the Dallas Stars, and the Vancouver Canucks, all of whom are currently in the top eight in the Western conference standings.
The race in the west is a tight one and there’d be room for mobility if the Ducks could string some wins together. However, entering Sunday’s game with a five-game losing streak and only earning one point in the process, the Ducks would need a win against the Avalanche to gain momentum in order to challenge their upcoming opponents.
The Avs got an early jump on the Ducks with a goal from Kevin Porter and had a 1-0 at the end of the first period. The Ducks, however, fought back hard in the second with tallies added from Ryan Getzlaf, his first as a new dad, and Todd Marchant, his first in about 70 games with his last one coming on March 17 of last year.
“[The goal] doesn’t feel much different,” said the Ducks captain. “Obviously I’m excited to be a new dad. I’ll probably get the puck for him and take it home.”
(He and his wife, Paige, welcomed their first child, a son named Ryder James, on Wednesday)
It was also joked that Marchant would keep his puck too.
“A lot of guys are saying ‘Should we go get you the puck?’,” he said. “Again, it’s all in good fun.”
However, David Jones and the Avs tied it up less than two minutes into the third, leaving plenty of time for either team to earn the win.
Then, at 8:19 in the third, Brandon Yip was called for a hi-stick double minor, giving the Ducks a four-minute power play. With less than a minute remaining in the power play, Brandon McMillan netted what ended up being the game-winning goal and the Ducks got the 3-2 victory.
“We found a way to get it done,” head coach Randy Carlyle said about the victory. “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. You have to credit the players. They stuck with the program.”
The Ducks will face the Red Wings Wednesday night at the Honda Center.