The Anaheim Ducks entered Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild with a four-game losing streak and without the help of starting goaltender, Jonas Hiller. Hiller has been out the past couple of weeks with what some believe might be a case of vertigo and he is taking all of the necessary precautions.
However, in Hiller’s absence the Ducks depended upon backup goalie Curtis McElhinney.
McElhinney had been a solid backup for the Ducks prior to Hiller’s injury. He had a 6-5-1 record, but once he took over for Hiller, things for McElhinney and the Ducks steadily declined. In those four consecutive losses, McElhiney faced 86 shots and allowed 19 goals with last game taking place on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Kings in a 3-2 loss.
Ray Emery had gotten called up for that game from the Ducks’ AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, but didn’t make his return onto NHL ice.
The next morning the Ducks traded McElhinney to the Tampa Bay Lightning for another goalie, Dan Ellis.
Ellis, with a 13-7-6 record, got the starting nod for the Ducks on Friday with Emery on the bench to back him up. The Ducks were hoping that, with the help of their new goaltenders, they would be able to get back on the track towards the playoffs.
With about five minutes remaining in regulation, the game was tied at one until Clayton Stoner scored on a long-range shot that seemingly went straight through the five-hole of Ellis, giving the Wild a 2-1 lead with only a few minutes left in regulation.
However, the Ducks fought back and Francois Beauchemin, whom recently returned to the Ducks from Toronto for Joffrey Lupul and prospect Jake Gardiner, retaliated and netted his first goal back in a Ducks uniform.
The game went into overtime and it seemed as though it was going to end in a shootout. However, with a mere 6.3 seconds remaining, Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored on a breakaway, earning a victory for the Wild.
“I think it will get better as time goes on,” Ellis reflected on his transition. “Coming into a new situation, a new team, in a totally different race, in a totally different conference, there’s a lot of changes that take place in a short amount of time.
“We didn’t really demonstrate enough emotion in the right direction from an energy standpoint,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle added.
The Ducks will hope to find their emotional energy before they face the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday afternoon in Anaheim.