Sunday, March 22, 2009

Now That's More Like It

And so it turns out that the Ducks may make the playoffs after all. The Ducks earned another 2 points for a playoff spot in a decisive 6-2 victory over Phoenix tonight.

All it took was some excellent defense on the penalty kill and a strong offensive effort on powerplays to win. After going for 22 powerplays without any goals to show for it, they now have earned 7 powerplay goals in the past three games that have proved critical for their victories. Tonight, they scored 3 powerplay goals and 3 at even strength to overcome the Phoenix Coyotes, after winning against them on the road in a shootout on Thursday.

Also contributing to a more organized effort is the ice temperature, which I have on good authority has been unusually warm the past few games. If the ice isn't frozen hard, the divets made by the skates affects the trajectory of the puck to the point where teams get some pretty bad bounces at times. According to a pretty reliable source (not guarenteed, he's been known to pull my leg at times) the building temperature was lowered for tonight's game, keeping the ice frozen for a more smooth playing surface. If it's true, it's kinda fun to know.

The Ducks scored the first goal of the game five minutes into the first period, on a nice powerplay goal by Scott Niedermeyer. The Ducks went on a powerplay after Coyote Matthew Lombardi earned a hi-sticking penalty at 4:38. Just 17 seconds after going up a man, Chris Pronger got the puck to Niedermeyer to earn the first of three powerplay goals of the night.

George Parros and His Mustache earned the second goal for the Ducks late in the first period, on a wrist shot off a pass from Erik Christensen. The Coyotes would return with a goal in the first 48 seconds of the second period after Petr Prucha evaded Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller. Corey Perry would earn the third Ducks goal halfway through the second period, with an assist from Ryan Getzlaf.

Phoenix was desperate to make it a competitive game, but only came within one goal of the Duck's lead after scoring another goal at the 15 minute mark of the second period.

The third period started with a 3-2 score when Phoenix player Todd Fedoruk earned a penalty at 8:39 for interference. Ten seconds later, Ryan Getzlaf shot the puck past Coyotes' goalie and former Duck Stanley Champion Ilja Bryzgalov to put the Ducks ahead by two. The Ducks caught another break when Coyote Scottie Upshall earned a double minor for hi-sticking. Getzlaf earned his second powerplay goal for the night just 21 seconds after the call. Andrew Ebbett put the game away 26 seconds later with a powerplay goal of his own to make the score 6-2 with just under 3 minutes left in the game.

Tonight, the Ducks held on to the lead for the victory. The win was critical, as it put them just one point behind the 8th place Nashville Predators, whom they will need to beat if they want to make it to the playoffs in April. They will play Nashville on Tuesday on the road, which may be the deciding game for a playoff spot.

Also competing for a playoff spot are the Minnesota Wild, who, after beating 7th place Edmonton, are tied with the Ducks with 76 points in the 9th seed. Both teams are just one point away from the 8th spot that would ensure them a playoff berth. At the top of the Conferences are the Boston Bruins (102), the New Jersy Devils (97) and the Washington Capitals (96) in the East and the San Jose Sharks (106), the Detroit Redwings (105) and the Calgary Flames (88) in the West.

Lets Go Ducks! (Really, now we NEED it).

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