On a night honoring their former captain and recent Hall of Fame inductee, Scott Niedermayer, the Anaheim Ducks would look to their current captain, Ryan Getzlaf and other team leaders, to guide the team out of their doldrums and try to get back to their winning ways on Friday night in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, it announced before the start of the game that blueliner Francois Beauchemin was moved to the injured reserved list and that goaltender Viktor Fasth, who was supposed to get the start, was injured in the pre-game warm-ups (Link to Brian Kennedy’s post).
The Ducks and Lightning last faced off exactly eight days prior in Tampa Bay. The Lightning emerged with a 5-1 victory, handing the Ducks their biggest loss of the season since opening night against the Colorado Avalanche. During that matchup, each team was the #1 team in their respective conferences. Since then, however, both teams have been knocked off their pedestals.
In the last week, the Lightning dropped three games in a row, all against Ducks’ Pacific division rivals: Phoenix Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks. They lost each of those games by a minimum of three goals.
Two weeks ago the Ducks were the top ranked team in the NHL with a record of 15-3-1. Since then however, they lost five games in a row, including their loss against the Lightning and two extra time losses. One of these extra time losses was against the New Jersey Devils, in a game with a controversial call which led to not one, but two power play goals and ultimately an own goal in overtime. As if that wasn’t painful enough, to add insult to injury, it was the Ducks first home loss of the season.
In a season that has been heavy in high-scoring games for both teams, this game would be quite the opposite.
The first period started with a Getzlaf breakaway that was stopped by Lightning netminder, Ben Bishop. The period resulted in two fights and a combined total of twenty-four shots on goal, but they were all stopped by Bishop, and Ducks’ goalie, Jonas Hiller.
Hiller, who had two minutes to prepare for the game after Fasth’s injury supposed, “Sometimes it’s almost easier that way, especially if things not [sic] going your way.”
The second period had another couple of Ducks breakaways perpetuated by center Andrew Cogliano, both of which were again stopped by Bishop, on top of eleven other shots on goal. Hiller also stayed strong, stopping all ten shots he faced in the period. And the third period would begin exactly as the game did, with no score on the board.
“I didn’t think anybody would score tonight on those goalies,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau reflected. “That was probably as good as a goaltending display from both goaltenders that I’ve seen in a very, very long time.”
There were no goal or resolution decided in the third and it appeared that overtime might not be enough either. However, with time winding down and 5.2 seconds left on the overtime clock, Getzlaf peppered a couple shots at Bishop and the puck found its way into the net. And the Ducks skid ended with a 1-0 victory.
“I just knew there wasn’t that much time left and I just wanted to go on one last rush and try to get one at the net and ended up getting two cracks at it,” Getzlaf said of his approach.
Boudreau declared of his captain and his goal, “Getzy plays hard. He is the leader and he logged a lot of minutes tonight. I think it was only rightful.”
Hoping to piggyback of Friday’s win, the Ducks head out on the road to play in Phoenix on Saturday night.
Regarding the win, Getzlaf stated, “It was big for our group. The guys played great tonight. It was a hard fought game.”