Well, a win's a win. And honestly, the Ducks absolutely dominated the first 40 minutes of this game.
After a relatively quiet first period (thanks to Jonas Hiller stoning Cody Hodgson early in the first), the Ducks exploded for four goals in the second period. Saku Koivu put a laser shot by Roberto Luongo on a nice cross-ice feed from Andrew Cogliano. After Aaron Rome (yeah, THAT Aaron Rome) was hit with a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for elbowing Devante Smith-Pelly, the Ducks took advantage of the perpetual man advantage by scoring twice. The first goal came on a feathered pass from Bobby Ryan onto the stick of Cogliano, who outlasted Luongo and slid the puck behind the sprawled Canucks netminder. The second PP goal came when Ryan Getzlaf threw a sharp-angle shot off of Luogo and onto Corey Perry's stick, who roofed the rebound over Luongo's glove hand. Peter Holland later recorded his first career goal after Smith-Pelly dug out a puck and hit a streaking Toni Lydman, who then fed a wide-open Holland in the slot.
The third period, however, was a different story. Down 4-0, the Canucks threw everything they had at the Ducks and manged to pull within one goal by the 13-minute mark of the period. Vancouver's defensemen pinched almost constantly, creating several prolonged possessions and providing few opportunities for the theretofore successful Ducks forecheck to go to work. Corey Perry decided to make things really interesting late in the game, taking a slashing penalty that gave Vancouver a 6-on-4 advantage with a minute left. Jonas Hiller then made his biggest save of the game on a rebound to deny Ryan Kesler and the Ducks held on to earn their first win in over two weeks.
UPDATE: Aaron Rome has escaped the Shanahammer with his hit on DSP. Will post Brendan Shanahan's explanation if/when it becomes available.
G/B/U coming up.The Good
- The offense finally showed up. Sure, the five-minute major in the second period helped, but 3 of the Ducks' 4 lines contributed tonight, and almost all of the goals were the result of hard work. Unlike previous games where Anaheim hasn't been able to finish off chances, the Ducks made the most of their scoring chances tonight, with 9 different Ducks earning points.
- The power play also had a good showing tonight, finishing 2 for 5. And they easily could have scored more. The Ducks' PP units moved the puck around well tonight, and created several close-quarters chances that have been missing of late. While the season percentage is still an abysmal 16%, the Ducks seem to be making progress in this area.
- Jonas Hiller kept this game from going to OT and was a huge part of the Ducks' success tonight. He was pretty much helpless to stop any of the Canucks' three goals in the third period and he made several quality stops to keep Vancouver relatively quiet. The Canucks threw 41 shots on goal tonight, with half that total coming in the third period alone. Jonas certainly deserves a significant amount of credit for tonight's win, and he even picked up a secondary assist on Cogliano's goal.
- Ed. Note #1: How the hell Robby of all people missed this, but congrats to Bobby Ryan for his 100th NHL assist.
- Nothing marginal in this game tonight. Everything was either really good or really terrible.
- I'm not one to get the vapors on hockey hits, but Aaron Rome's hit on DSP in the second period was pretty gratuitous (video below). Rome basically took a run at DSP, who was on the boards along the Ducks bench. Instead of sending Smith-Pelly into the Ducks bench, Rome hit DSP high, knocking him to the ice and out of the game for a few shifts. After his infamous 4-game suspension in last year's Stanley Cup Final, it's pretty easy to see Rome missing a significant amount of time for this hit. [Ed. Note #2: Feel free to discuss your feelings on the hit, and what you think the Shanahammer will do.]
- The officiating got to be a little suspect late in the game. Vancouver's third goal came after Henrik Sedin blasted Hiller on a cross-crease run, a play which should have been whistled dead as goaltender interference. Vancouver then got away with a few dubious plays (including a pretty apparent interference against Bobby Ryan), while the referees saw fit to whistle Corey Perry for a slash late in the game. I'm just thankful that none of these calls (or non-calls, as they were) came back to haunt the Ducks.
- The third period was UGLY. It makes sense that the Canucks were pouring on the pressure, but I'd like to think that we can defend a lead a little better than that. It seemed like Vancouver was able to get to every loose puck over the last 20 minutes, and absent some timely saves from Hiller, it's completely possible that tonight's outcome could have been different. The next time the Ducks get a four-goal lead, I'd prefer to see them hold it a little better. [Ed. Note #3: Shots on goal in the third period, 22 for the Canucks and 2 for the Ducks.]
Overall, a good, important win for Anaheim tonight. It wasn't the prettiest victory, but there were several encouraging signs, the most important of which being Anaheim finding the back of the net four times. The Ducks put forth a good team effort tonight and with any luck, the PP's success will carry over to the next few games.