Nothing seems to be able to stop the Anaheim Ducks this season. After starting the season with a 6-1-1 record the Ducks embarked on a very difficult six game, 12 day road trip where they would face stiff challenges as they would play three of the top teams in the Western Conference, the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, and the Detroit Red Wings. Challenge accepted: challenge passed.
In the last seven days the Ducks have beaten the Blues in a 6-5 shootout that saw Anaheim twice rally from two goal deficits to send the game to a shootout that was won by a goal in the seventh round of the shootout by Nick Bonino. The ageless wonder Teemu Selanne also had a goal and three assists, and Bobby Ryan had two goals and two assists for a four point night to help the Ducks bounce back from the only loss of the road trip thus far a 3-1 setback to the Dallas Stars where the Ducks lost starting goalie Jonas Hiller.
Three days later, the Ducks played the Blackhawks, the top team in the NHL. The Ducks found themselves trailing with less than three minutes to play. No problem, as Andrew Cogliano tipped in a shot from the point by newcomer Ben Lovejoy to tie the game at 2 with 2:40 to play. Then the Ducks had to kill off two overtime power-plays for Chicago to get to a shootout. After a Jonathan Toews goal put the Blackhawks up 1-0 in the shootout the Ducks rallied with back-to-back goals by Nick Bonino and Corey Perry to give Anaheim a 2-1 lead. Then Swedish sensation, goalie Viktor Fasth closed the door on the Blackhawks stopping Brandon Saad’s shootout attempt with a sprawling kick save to give the Ducks an improbable 3-2 shootout victory.
So what does Anaheim do for encore? They go into Hockeytown U.S.A. to face the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena where the Ducks have not won since February 10, 2008, and after spotting the Red Wings a 1-0 lead the Ducks rally to score five goals including three third period goals that broke a 2-2 tie to win 5-2. With the win Viktor Fasth won his seventh start to remain unbeaten in his NHL career. Fasth is the first goalie since Dan Ellis (a former Duck who Fasth replaced) to win his first seven career starts, although with Ellis it was over a four year span from 2004-2007.
In the game for the Ducks, Matt Belesky tied the game at 1 at the 3:27 mark of the 2nd period, Belesky’s 2nd goal of the season. Moments later after Tomas Tatar’s goal had given the Red Wings the lead back at the 6:32 mark of the period, Corey Perry scored his 2nd goal of the season with the assist going to Belesky at 7:37 of the 2nd period.
Anaheim broke the tie early in the 3rd period with two goals in a 48 second time span. The first one coming at 1:02 mark of the period as Cogliano tipped-in a Saku Koivu shot to give Anaheim the lead, then Bobby Ryan scored his 5th goal of the season on a wrist shot after a nice feed by Teemu Selanne to give the Ducks a 4-2 lead at 1:50 of the third period. Cogliano added an empty net goal, his fourth goal in the last three games at 18:11 to clinch the victory and a 4-1 record on the road trip which concludes tonight in Nashville.
The Ducks are now 10-2-1-1 on the season and sit atop the Pacific Division standings and are second place in the Western Conference behind Chicago. They face a Nashville Predators team that has been hot lately as well winning three of their last four games. They have the hottest goaltender in the league in Pekka Rinne who has three shutouts in his last four games and a 1.64 GAA which has helped make up for the fact that Nashville is 30th in goals scored averaging a paltry 1.86 goals per game.