Despite being only halfway through the month of January, the Anaheim Ducks approached Sunday night’s game knowing that it was their last home game until after the All-Star break and also knowing that eight out of their next ten games (spanning through February 13th) were going to be on the road.
They were sitting in third place in the Pacific division and barely holding a potential playoff spot in eighth place in the Western conference. The Ducks were craving a win to carry them on into their road trip.
The previous night they suffered through an off night in Phoenix in a 6-2 loss to the Coyotes. Their Sunday night opponent, the Edmonton Oilers, were also on the back end of a back-to-back, losing 5-2 to the Los Angeles Kings. Whichever team earned the W was going to get a bit of reprieve from the night before.
The Ducks were the first to strike when Luca Sbisa scored his second career NHL goal, and second within the last few weeks, on one-timer during a power play opportunity, giving the Ducks a 1-0 lead about midway through the first period.
Several minutes later, a certain Ducks player not only added to the lead, but also added another achievement to the record books.
Teemu Selanne earned his 1,300th career NHL point, after finding the rebound off of Oilers’ goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.
“It’s a big number, obviously. That’s what happens when you play a long time, play with the great players, and enjoy the game,” Selanne remarked. “I didn’t even know I was one point away yesterday. Somebody reminded me today.”
Selanne added a third goal to the Ducks lead late in the second and started the third period up, 3-0.
That didn’t last long, however as the Oilers dug deep and netted two goals, from Magnus Paajarvi and Sam Gagner, a mere 26 seconds apart. Unfortunately for the Oilers — and even with 20 seconds of a six-on-three advantage — they were unable to get the tying goal that they were looking for and the Ducks got the 3-2 victory and bump up one place in the conference standings.
“As long as we win that is the bottom line,” said a relieved Randy Carlyle afterwards. “We were forced to probably perform some extra work that really wouldn’t have been necessary, but we found a way to win the hockey game.”
Despite cutting his neck on the heel of a teammate’s skate, Ducks goaltender Curtis McElhinney returned to the game and earned the win after receiving a couple of stitches.
Selanne is currently ranked 32nd on the all-time NHL points, 15th in all-time goals, and 9th in power play goals.
Jason Blake has a three-game point streak.
The Ducks are 7-2-0 since losing captain Ryan Getzlaf to a facial injury in Phoenix on December 28.