Neither team could afford to give up two points. Other teams fighting for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference didn’t want the game to be a three-point affair. That was the story at Honda Center on Sunday night as the Avalanche visited the Ducks at an oddball 6pm start time. In the end, the Ducks got the win and the two points, and the Avs disappointed other teams in the conference by coming away with a point that they will take up the highway with them Monday as they play the Kings.
Down by two goals heading into the third period as they had been a week prior in Edmonton, the Ducks did it again. This was their third straight win when the game goes to OT. They’ve won in OT in two consecutive games. Friday night, they defeated the Kings after going down early, 1-0. That game wasn’t nearly the comeback this one was, but overcoming is overcoming, and if there’s a story of this team this year, that’s been it.
Sunday, down 3-1, they kept at it, and the Colorado lead was erased in a span of 96 seconds. The Ducks got a goal from Adam Henrique, his 23rd, and then Kesler, to tie it at threes with about seven minutes remaining.
Not to mention—the Avalanche got the first goal, at just 1:16 of the first. They started well. They didn’t finish well.
All of this on the back of Ryan Miller, who turned up as the goalie of record to start the second period after John Gibson had started. Miller would eventually make 19 saves. This is the tenth time this year that he has been called in in relief. He allowed two goals. He inherited a 1-1 tie, but quickly allowed a couple of goals. The second one was a stone cold break with three guys coming at him and not enough defense back. He recovered to get the win, as you’ve gathered.
On the other end of the ice, Jonathan Bernier faced 42 and stopped 38.
The Ducks allowed one power play goal on four opportunities. They had two chances themselves, but didn’t score. More penalties than this were called on the night, be some were offsetting minors when the teams got scrappy.
Bad news for the Ducks: Gibson’s disappearance came after he was bowled over and crashed back into the gaping hole of his net. Another bang to the head? Nobody was saying after the game, but you have to think so. The official word was as it always is in these cases: we’ll know more tomorrow. Gibson faced ten shots and allowed one goal.
Here’s Carlyle on him: “I couldn’t tell you this yet; we’ll have to do an assessment tomorrow. We always wait 24 hours before we get the assessment from the doctors.”
He said essentially the same thing about Cam Fowler. More trouble: the OT started without Fowler on the ice. He had taken a crunching hit late in the third period. He led the team with over 25 minutes on the ice in the game, even still.
Things almost ended in OT early when Getzlaf went in on net and fired a wicked low wrister. Bernier made the save. The Kase goal was a two-on-one where the primary puck carrier decided to keep the puck. After the goal went in, a defenseman slid into the Colorado net and bowled Bernier over in the process.
In truth, Colorado barely figured in the OT. They didn’t hold the puck at all. Anaheim, rather, charged out and controlled from the start. The shots in OT were 2-1 for the Ducks. The play was more lopsided than that.
The standings change by the minute, but this one put the Ducks into third in the Pacific and slotted Colorado into the second wildcard spot. Los Angeles holds the first one. The playoff positions are rearranged, but the Kings can help themselves by winning Monday, especially with Colorado coming in with no rest and on the emotional low of giving up the lead in this game.
And let’s not miss this: St. Louis was the second wildcard team earlier on Sunday. They’re now on the outside. But they do have a game in hand, which if they win, puts them a point to the good and shoves Colorado outside once more. Meanwhile, the Ducks sit around until Wednesday. Nervous times, though they will also have at least one day off. Good for recovery, especially for those injured.
The OT goal was scored by Kase, a two-on-one breakaway. He said after, “I saw the D’s coming to me, so I tried to make something just myself, and it goes in.” About the third, he said, “It was a tough game for us, but the third period we played great.”
Getzlaf got the assist on the game-winner.
Kesler’s line had five points: Cogliano one goal and one assist, Kesler one goal, and Silfverberg two assists. Kesler also had two minor penalties.
Randy Carlyle said after, “We had to stick with it; it takes 60 minutes to complete a game and in our minds we were doing a lot of good things, but we weren’t getting enough people to the net in the dirty areas.” When they did that, he said, they started to have success.
He summarized: “Again these are big points and the next one’s going to be bigger.” His voice rose as he said it. He was half poking fun at himself for the cliché but half suggesting that no matter how silly it sounds, this is precisely the truth. That next one is against Minnesota on Wednesday night in Anaheim.
The Ducks have only three games to go. Most of the teams fighting to make the playoffs in the West play each other this week, so it’s unlikely that things will be decided much before about mid-week, at the earliest. Anaheim plays two more at home, where they’ve been lights-out of late. Anaheim earned its fifth straight home win (5-0-0) and eighth in the last nine games at Honda Center (8-1-0). The Ducks also collected standings points for the 14th time in their last 15 home games (26 pts., 12-1-2). The victory pushed Anaheim’s record since the end of its bye week (Jan. 13) to 22-10-4, along with a 27-12-5 mark since Dec. 21.
Bernier was stoic in the loss. He said, “They’re a good team. They know how to play this game at this time of the year. Obviously, we have to move on really quick. We have a big game tomorrow.”
Is this team mature enough to take advantage? Tomorrow in LA will answer that, and do a lot to determine the Avalanche’s ultimate fate.
This report compiled with assistance from the Anaheim Ducks’ media notes.