(photo: Dinur Blum)
The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Calgary Flames at home 3-2 on Tuesday. This game was important to both teams as Calgary wanted to break their 10-year Anaheim drought and of course the Ducks wanted their record to stay alive. The Flames fought hard to the end but Anaheim is still on their throne for another year.
Just last week, Anaheim faced the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome and lost in a shootout. There was no doubt that the loss was still in the back of all of their minds even though they just won the last two games, including Sunday’s against the Coyotes. Calgary was itching to win because they have not won a game in Anaheim since 2004. With 18 straight home wins under their belts, Anaheim was not planning on losing their record 10 years later. It was also the first time former Ducks star goalie Jonas Hiller was back in Anaheim this season and he has been nothing less than beneficial for the Flames. The Ducks had to work hard enough on Tuesday to prove how much they deserve to keep leading the Western Conference.
The first period started off with a bang for the Ducks as they got the motivation back to win their third consecutive game. The Ducks were able to stay in front of Calgary’s net very early into the game and already had 4 scoring chances at just a few minutes into the period. Up and coming left winger so far this season Matt Beleskey scored his 10th goal of the year at 4:37. Beleskey had a chance to make his goal total come to 11 but he just missed the shot when the puck hit the post. Calgary started stepping up their game with about 11 minutes left in the period, including a fight between Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler and Flame’s defenseman Kris Russell, but the Ducks managed to keep them out of their net. Anaheim ended the first leading at 1-0.
The Ducks kicked things into gear during the second period. Calgary was already threatening to tie things up during their power plays. Anaheim’s improvement of getting the puck out and past the neutral zone showed in the points they were able to rack up. At just 5:04, Anaheim’s Corey Perry got the puck past Hiller thanks to his two assists, Beleskey and veteran defender, Francois Beauchemin. With just 15.8 seconds left in the period, Ducks right winger Kyle Palmieri turned the score into 3-0 with a backhander. Calgary was left in the dust trailing behind Anaheim but because they are known for being a third period comeback team, they were not out of the running yet.
Anaheim was only one period off from shutting Calgary out and winning at home for the 19th time. The Flames started the third period out carefully, just keeping the puck within reach of one another. If they had lost possession, who knew what the Ducks would have been capable of at the momentum they were going. Center Nate Thompson had a good chance to sneak the puck in just minutes into the third but Hiller would not allow it to slip past him. Things quickly turned onto the defensive side with a couple of slashing calls and some “nice” conversations between both teams. The Ducks lost Beauchemin in the period with an upper body injury so they managed to play with five defenders left. Flames’ TJ Brodie slapshotted the game around into 3-1 at 11:02. With just 7:21 left, the Ducks had to regain the drive they had to make sure the pressure that Calgary was putting on did not affect them. An almost goal by Flames’ left winger Johnny Gaudreau turned the game 3-2 with a little over three minutes left but after the refs analyzed it, the score turned back to 3-1 because the new call was that Gaudreau kicked it in. Even after a last minute goal by Calgary’s Jiri Hudler, the Ducks came out on top. They ended in regulation 3-2.
The Anaheim Ducks managed to keep their tradition alive even though Calgary was flying throughout the third period. Both teams do not meet again at Anaheim’s Honda Center until Jan. 21 to see if the Ducks can turn it into another win and an 11-year record.