After a long road trip, the Ducks returned home to square off against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Entering the game, the Ducks were one of the best teams in the NHL with 23 points while the Blue Jackets are the worst with only 10 points. The fear entering this game was that there could be a letdown.
Before the game, Bruce Boudreau decided to rest the red hot Viktor Fasth to instead put in Jonas Hiller as goaltender. Sitting out 10 days to rest, Hiller did not disappoint and with the help of Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks were victorious 3 to 2.
Hiller has had a slow start to the season with a 3.69 goals against average compared to his career average of 2.56. This sluggish start was the result of a lower body injury that he suffered on February eighth against the Stars.
In the first period, the Blue Jackets were on the offensive when the puck dropped. At 16:30 left in the period, Columbus’ Vinny Proposal scored his fifth goal of the season with the assist from Derek Dorsett and Mark Letestu. For more than half of the period, the puck was consistently in the Duck’s zone. That is until a crucial penalty against Fedor Tyutin for interference shifted the game towards the Ducks favor.
During the penalty, the Ducks capitalized with Peter Holland scoring his first goal of the season and only his second career goal. Holland came out of the penalty box and Bobby Ryan passed him the puck for a breakaway.
Only 21 seconds later did Getzlaf send a wristshot to the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season. Just like that, the Ducks were ahead 2-1 at the end of the first period.
The second period did not have any scoring but it had some remarkable saves by Hiller. Not only was Hiller on top of his game but the defense blocked 21 shots in the first two periods.
Boudreau said about his goaltender, “His athleticism was great. Some of the saves he made, he shouldn’t have made but he did and that is what we saw last year from January through March.”
At the start of the third period, the score was still 2-1, but the Ducks were physically outplaying the Blue Jackets. With Anaheim continuously running four lines, no one was getting overworked on the ice.
Again the Ducks capitalized on a Columbus penalty when Corey Perry scored his third goal of the season with 11:22 left in the game to make the score 3-1. This goal seemingly put the game out of reach for Columbus.
With a little grit and determination, the Blue Jackets made a comeback with a goal from Derick Brassard with 7:54 left in the game. Brassard scored the goal off a rebound from Hiller in front of the net. This goal made the game 3-2.
In the final minute of regulation, Perry received a two minute penalty for holding. With Columbus’ goalie already pulled, the Blue Jackets had a two skater advantage on the Ducks. But the defense and Hiller stood strong and denied all shots on goal to end the game at 3-2.
This win gives the Ducks a record of 12-2-1 while the Blue Jackets fall to 4-10-2. With this win, the Ducks have won five straight games and have posted record of 5-1 at home, which is their best mark in franchise history.
The next game is on February 24th against the Colorado Avalanche. This gives the tired Ducks a few days to practice and rest up.