ANAHEIM, CA – The next 24 hours could determine the Anaheim Ducks’ season. A team who earlier this season had a record of 10-21-1, now have a 27-27-10 record and could possibly pull off a huge upset and squeak into the playoffs.
This time last week, the Ducks were four points out of playoff contention and it looked as if they actually had a chance to pull off the near impossible, having come back from being one point ahead of Columbus at the bottom of the conference earlier in the season.
However, after dropping two games in a row – to Colorado and Buffalo – the Ducks entered Friday’s game seven points back with only 18 games left in their regular season. They would need two big wins against western conference foes the Calgary Flames on Friday night and the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday to keep their hopes alive.
“It’s huge,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said of this weekend. “For us it will affect where we’re going to sit come time for the stretch here, so that’s what we’re excited about.”
The 11th-placed Flames made the trip to Honda Center and were on the board just three minutes in thanks to a power play goal by Curtis Glencross. The lead did not last long, however, as Bobby Ryan tied the game after a beautiful play set up by linemate Teemu Selanne.
Just shy of eight minutes into the second, the Ducks took their first lead of the game when Corey Perry put the puck past Leland Irving, who was relieving starter Mikka Kiprusoff for the night.
However, less than five minutes into the third, Alex Tanguay equalized for the Flames, giving both teams plenty of time to go for the win.
The game seemed destined for overtime, but with less than a minute to go, Getzlaf rifled a slap shot past Irving for the game-winning goal – his first goal since January 22 – and the Ducks secured a much-needed victory.
“That was an emotional one,” said Getzlaf. “That was a big win for our group and we’ve got half the battle done this weekend.”
But Ryan’s emotions were tempered after the match, saying the team needed to begin games with more intensity.
“We’ve been coming out of periods down a goal and it’s been tougher in the second period to get going, so tying it up was huge,” he said.
“Obviously we’re happy for the two points and we’re really happy for him [Getzlaf]. He’s our captain and he’s doing things all around the ice that are well.”
After a quick trip up to Los Angeles on Saturday, the Ducks will be back at Honda Center on Monday for a visit from the Edmonton Oilers.