Sunday evening marked the Anaheim Ducks 40th game of the season, just about halfway through the season. However, the first half of this particular season has not gone as the Ducks had originally anticipated.
They started out the season losing the first game and then winning their next four, giving them a 4-1-0 record for the first couple weeks into the season…they hadn’t won back-to-back games since then, giving them a record of 11-22-6 heading into their 40th game of the season.
This weekend, though, they had a chance.
Both of their opponents this weekend, the New York Islanders and the Columbus Blue Jackets, had losing records. The Islanders entered Friday night’s contest with a record of 14-17-6. The Ducks ended up winning that game 4-2.
Up next for the Ducks was the Blue Jackets, for a Sunday night showdown. The Blue Jackets are the only team in the NHL with a worse record than the Ducks.
The Blue Jackets entered the game with a record of 11-24-5, but had just beaten the Ducks cross-town rival, Los Angeles Kings, the day before by a score of 1-0.
“We knew this morning when we came to the rink what their record was and what ours was, Bruce (Boudreau) pointed it out,” Corey Perry mentioned. “Where we are is unacceptable and we’ve got to keep playing.”
The first period did not look like a match up of the two teams fighting to stay out of last place. Andrew Cogliano got an early jump for the Ducks scoring just a couple minutes into the game and Perry added a second tally for the Ducks about ten minutes later.
Rick Nash got one in on Jonas Hiller, bringing the Jackets back within one, but less than a minute later, Teemu Selanne scored a power play goal, the 650th goal of goal of his career. His line mate Saku Koivu added a fourth goal for the Ducks just thirty-five seconds later.
With about a minute remaining in the first period, Jonas Hiller left the game with a lower body injury and was replaced by Iiro Tarkki, who was making his NHL debut.
Tarkii, an AHL call-up, had just landed in California from Philadelphia a mere six hours before face off. He stated, “I didn’t expect this to happen so fast, but I’m glad.”
Derick Brassard and Perry exchanged power play goal in the second period and the Ducks had a 5-2 lead going into the third.
Early in the third, Selanne and Nash each added their second goals of the night and at 14:06, Vinny Prospal brought the Jackets within two.
With just over five minutes remaining, Jean-Francois Jacques was given a five-minute major for elbowing and the Ducks had to play the majority of the end down a man. They successfully killed off the penalty and Perry added an empty-netter to secure the hat trick and the win, the final score being 7-4 and the Ducks winning their first back-to-back games since October 17, 2011.
“It’s embarrassing,” Selanne commented. “We have all been waiting for this moment right now, where we can start rolling a little bit and try to get a hot streak.”
Coach Boudreau added, “You see how it goes tomorrow and you just hope the snowball keeps getting bigger and bigger and then when that happens what was once an eight can losing streak can turn around in a week.”
The Ducks will face off against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday at Honda Center.