A couple goals from both Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry along with some more quality penalty killing has Anaheim again within a stone's throw of a playoff spot in the West. With Friday's game against Washington being postponed, Anaheim came into the game fresh without having to play back-to-backs and benefitted from the rest. Detroit came into tonight's game on the back end of a back-to-back (beating Buffalo last night 3-0) and was playing it's third game in four nights.
The busy schedule didn't deter the Red Wings from getting off to a fast start, however, as Shea Theodore lost his man at the blue line and Darren Helm skated in for an easy 1-on-0 goal to put Detroit up just 1:10 into the first period. It would be the Ducks cycle game that go them back into the game. Six minutes after Detroit took the lead, Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg cycled the puck behind the Red Wing's net, and Silfverberg found Kesler in front of the blue paint to knot the score up at 1-1.
Late in the first, David Perron got his stick on a cross-ice pass in the defensive zone that sprung Rickard Rakell and Perry for a 2-on-1 rush. Rakell brought the puck into the zone and hit Perry with a pass, who went forehand to backhand and finished to give Anaheim a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
While Anaheim had the better of shot attempts and scoring chances in the second period they continued to be unable to solve the mystery of the middle frame. Nearly halfway through the period Anaheim was caught with a forward defending a 3-on2 break. Ryan Getzlaf and Theodore were the two men back tasked with slowing down the rush from the Red Wings but two crisp passes found Tomas Jurco alone in front of John Gibson and he finished to tie the score at 2.
"That was a big part of the game. If they go up 3-2 there …," Gibson told NHL.com.
"My job is to keep us in the game and every save I can steal, I will. I was fortunate enough to make the save and everything worked out our way."
Anaheim came into the third looking to put the game away. Just over two minutes into the final frame, the Perry line combined on a tic-tac-toe play to the front of the net. Perry potted the goal for his 19th of the season, putting Anaheim up 3-2 early. The eventual game-winner was scored just four minutes later. With a 6-on-5 advantage due to a delayed penalty against Detroit, Getzlaf hit a speeding Kesler with a pass as he entered the Red Wings zone. Kesler made a nifty move around Brendan Smith just inside the blue line and put a shot under the arm of Jimmy Howard to extend the Ducks lead to 2. Danny DeKeyser would score with the extra attacker late in the third to make Anaheim fans sweat a little more but the Ducks finished the game well to take a 4-3 win.
With the win, Anaheim now sits at 49 points (21-18-7), only two points behind third place Arizona. Detroit, on the other hand, is now 1-5-2 in their last 8 games at The Joe.
The continued success of Anaheim's #1 penalty kill has them in striking distance now as they head to Boston for a Tuesday game against the Bruins that starts at 4:00PM PST.