HULKZLAF SMASH! - Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Ducks came home to face Phoenix for the third and final game of this mini-series. Phoenix took the first two games at home via 5-4 shootout victories. With two more in-division points on the line, the Ducks couldn't let them take the third.
In a late change, the Coyotes decided to have backup goaltender Jason LaBarbara start in net against the Ducks' Jonas Hiller. This may have been a blessing in disguise for Anaheim because Phoenix's regular starter, Mike Smith, has given them fits over the past two games.
The only other lineup change came from the Ducks. Patrick Maroon was sent back to Norfolk and Peter Holland was called up in his place. Holland centered the fourth line with Emerson Etem and Brandon McMillan. Bryan Allen was out of the lineup again due to a nasty case of the flu. Kyle Palmieri was also out of the game with his 'upper body injury' (concussion). He hasn't practiced practiced since Raffi Torres hit him up in the noggin on Saturday night.
First Period Recap: Bruce Boudreau has been juggling his lines regularly in order to see what works. Tonight's top line was a familiar one we hadn't seen steadily for a while - the reuniting of RPG. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan played like the O.G. RPG line from years back when they were considered the best top line in the NHL.
In a very back and forth period, the Ducks scored first, 7:10 into the game. It was a gorgeous goal. Getzlaf catches the Coyotes in a messy-late(ish) change in the neutral zone. He skates the puck in just past the blue line and drop passes it to Bobby Ryan. Bobby skates the puck halfway through the Coyotes zone and rips a sharp pass to Perry who is crossing in front of the crease. In true Perry fashion, he dives Superman-style as he flings the puck under the arm of the outstretched and diving LaBarbara. Ducks are up 1-0
It took nearly ten minutes for Jonas Hiller to see his first shot of the night. A few minutes later, Cam Fowler is concentrating on Martin Hanzal (using all my willpower to resist Zoolander joke) instead of the puck, leaving center ice in the Ducks zone nearly wide open. Hanzal manages to get the puck to the all alone Mikkel Boedker. Daniel Winnik catches up to Boedker right as he's pulling back to take a shot and dives in front of him. I couldn't tell if the puck deflected off Winnik but it definitely had Hiller beaten. Luckily, the puck clangs off the elbow joint part where the crossbar and post are connected.
As seems to be the trend this season, the refereeing was extremely inconsistent. Getzy taps Antoine Vermette on the shins and is called for hooking. Very marginal call. The Ducks managed to kill the penalty by not allowing Phoenix to get set up.
The period ended 1-0 Ducks.
Second Period Recap: To open the period, Phoenix pours on the pressure early but the Ducks defense is able to keep them at bey.
About 3:30 in, the Ducks were called for a too many men on the ice penalty. It was another iffy call. Brandon McMillan was halfway onto the bench (gate open, one skate in) when the Ducks touched the puck with his replacement on the ice. Back on the penalty kill the Ducks go until the Ducks receive what I thought was a make-up call for the too many men penalty. Andrew Cogliano is battling with Shane Doan against the boards when Cogs turns and skates forward into but kind of steps on Doan's stick. Cogs sells it and Doan goes off for tripping. It becomes 4-on-4 hockey for the next 1:07.
The play is in the defensive zone when Ben Lovejoy makes a clean pass to Saku Koivu. In turn, Koivu rockets a pass diagonally across the ice to Cogliano who is up by the blueline. Cogs looked like he was wearing Wyle E. Coyote rollerskates with rockets on them as he FLEW towards the Phoenix net. Oliver Ekman-Larsson catches up to Cogs right as he's about to shoot and gets his stick on Cogs' hands. Andrew was unable to make a play because of the separation between he and the puck, so that means it's penalty shot time!
Oh man. What a penalty shot. I've learned that Cogliano is really good at scoring when he's right at the net, usually catching the goalie on the wrong side of the post; breakaways aren't really his thing. Cogs took the puck down center ice and about two strides in, everyone and their mom knew he was going five-hole. That's exactly what he did and LaBarbara stopped it easily.
It's still 4-on-4 when play resumes and the Ducks almost went up by a second goal. Francois Beauchemin the puck to Getzy as Perry comes around from behind the net to catch the pass and fire quickly at the net. The puck rebounded off LaBarbara and Perry picks it up for another quick shot that hits the crossbar. The Ducks had several other chances but none that came quite as close as Perry hitting the crossbar.
Period ends as it started, 1-0.
Third Period Recap: This period was kind of boring. The Coyotes stepped up pressure but the Ducks remained calm when they couldn't get the puck out of their zone for extended periods of time. Of the 18 shots Hiller faced, nine of them came in the third period. His rebound control was excellent; his puck handling away from the crease was so-so. There were some close calls that caused him to dive back into the net to make a save.
Sheldon Souray was called for interference 5:58 in. Even with one of their stronger penalty killers in the box, the Ducks killed off the third penalty of the night. Babysteps towards improvement in that area.
With 21 seconds to go, Bobby takes away the puck from one of the Coyotes who immediately gets it back as it rolled down the boards. Getzlaf intercepted Phoenix's pass in the neutral zone and rocketed it into the empty net. Ducks win, 2-0.
The Good: The Ducks finally beat the Coyotes. I swear, Jobing.com Arena in Phoenix is a black hole of dispair for Anaheim. Getting back home where they're now 9-1-0 played a big part, the other being the absence of Mike Smith.
The Bad: Was it just me or did Cam Fowler look a little dazed and confused out on the ice tonight? It could be that he's adjusting to his new defensive pairing playing with Toni Lydman while Bryan Allen recovers from
a zombie bite the flu. Give him a couple more games and he'll be back to normal.
The Ugly: I got nothing.
Next Game: Friday, Mar. 8 at 7:30 pm PT at home versus Calgary