Well that was certainly a lively affair. Even though Honda Center was pretty empty (I heard on the radio on the way home that attendance was 13,000+, which seems fairly generous to me), the place was rocking all night. In addition to an incredibly hot start that saw the Ducks pot four goals in the first period, the real fireworks weren't on the scoreboard. Late in the first and early in the second, the two teams began throwing the body and general shenanigans ensued.
By the time the dust settled tonight, the Blue Jackets and the Ducks combined for 11 goals and an impressive 69 PIM. While there were only two official fights, guys were taking runs at each other during and after plays, and we even saw a goal waved off because of things occurring behind the play.
Overall, the Ducks put forth a great effort tonight, and the offensive core once again led the way. While this was the first time the Ducks won back-to-back games since October, the victory was somewhat marred by the departure of Jonas Hiller due to injury late in the first period (more on that below).
G/B/U coming up.The Good
- As I said, the Ducks' big guns all showed up tonight. Corey Perry netted a hat trick (including a beautiful empty-netter that he absolutely rifled down the ice from his own faceoff circle) and Teemu Selanne recorded two goals (numbers 650 and 651 in his illustrious career). While he only recorded one assist, Ryan Getzlaf played a monster game. His hard work set up Perry's second goal (which he did not receive credit for on the scoresheet) and he was relentless around the puck tonight. Bobby Ryan added two primary assists and complemented his line mates very well all night. All in all, the big four combined for five goals and eight points.
- While the big guns led the way, this was a game that saw contributions up and down the lineup. Friday's game saw 10 different Ducks record points and Anaheim bested that total tonight with 11 skaters recording a point tonight. Six Ducks had two or more points tonight, with Saku Koivu and Corey Perry recording three points each. If the Ducks are to build sustained momentum from these games, the ability to receive contributions from virtually everyone in the lineup will be huge.
- This probably wasn't the NHL debut Iiro Tarkki had in mind, but he played capably in relief of Hiller. While he did allow three goals, two of them were the result of players being wide-open in prime scoring areas on the ice. The third goal he let in was sort of ugly, but his main job tonight was to make sure he didn't lose the game for the Ducks. On that level, he certainly succeeded. And he picked up his first NHL win.
- With the exception of Jean Francois Jacques' bone-headed elbowing major at the end of the game (more on him later), Anaheim did a pretty good job of staying above the fray all night. It would have been very easy for the Ducks to be goaded into more confrontations, but they seemed to keep their eye on the task at hand. For a team that has struggled at times to retain its composure, it was refreshing to see the Ducks keep their cool.
- Jonas Hiller left late in the first period after sprawling to make a pad save. He was slow to get up and was immediately pulled after the Ducks scored on the ensuing rush up ice. After the game, the Ducks tweeted that Hiller was day-to-day and that although he probably could have finished the period, coach Bruce Boudreau removed him for precautionary reasons. While the extent of Hiller's lower-body injury remains to be seen, it couldn't come at a worse time. With backup Dan Ellis going down to a groin injury yesterday, the Ducks can ill afford to lose their starting netminder for any period of time.
- Rick Nash is kind of a dick. I know that Francois Beauchemin nuked Jeff Carter at one point, but Nash was engaged with Beauch nearly all night on the ice. For a guy who has a pretty clean reputation, I was surprised to watch how persistently he chirped at Beauch. Truth be told, I never even saw the disallowed Corey Perry goal because I was watching Nash and Beauch tangle behind the play for what seemed like the third time on the night. I know that this will eventually be portrayed as the Dirty Ducks getting under the skin of even the saintly Rick Nash, but trust me, the guy was no angel. He wanted to be in Beauch's face all night. It was weird.
- I'm not a huge advocate of keeping guys on the roster for the sake of fighting alone, but man did Sheldon Brookbank and Matt Beleskey ever get handled in their two scraps. Their strategy of hitting the other guys' fists with their foreheads was painful to watch and was somewhat deflating. I appreciate that both guys answered the bell, but it would be nice to have someone that can handle themselves a little better to occupy that role.
- The officials had absolutely no control of the game tonight and while things got sufficiently ugly, they could have been much worse. It was only in the last period that the zebras attempted to start nipping incidents in the bud, which led to horrible calls like the interference penalty to Matt Beleskey in the third period. I don't think I've ever seen a game get that out-of-hand in person, and it was pretty clear that the officials had completely lost control mid-way through the second. Thankfully, nothing crazy happened to our guys.
- Jean Francois Jacques is an idiot. While I didn't see the elbowing major live (and they didn't show a replay in the arena), comments in the gameday thread confirmed that the call was certainly warranted. As Daniel noted, this is probably his last game at the NHL level, which is fine by me. Not only was it a reckless play on its own merit, but it also came at a terrible time for the team. The Ducks did an admirable job of killing off the major, but they should have never been in that position in the first place.