ANAHEIM, Calif. – After getting off 54 shots only to lose their previous game, the Anaheim Ducks figured they needed to try something different.
They got the job done while taking 23 fewer shots against Colorado, handing the Avalanche their seventh consecutive defeat with a 4-1 victory.
“Everybody in the room realized we dropped one on Friday (a 5-3 loss to Edmonton) that we felt like we should have had and we lost two valuable points,” said Bobby Ryan, who scored twice in the win over Colorado. “We had a day off to address it, and we knew coming into this one that we had to get off to a good start and come away with two before we go on the road for a couple of tough games.
“We had to have a better presence in front of the goaltender. Obviously, (Dwayne) Roloson on Friday night saw too many pucks and was able to make 52 saves – and 40 of them were pretty easy. So getting in front of the goalie, jamming the sides of the net and finding a way to score some ugly ones was important tonight.”
The win gave the Ducks their first season sweep (4-0) of Colorado, and kept Anaheim in the thick of the crowded race for a Western Conference playoff berth. With six games left, Anaheim is one point behind St. Louis for the eighth and last berth.
“We know every two points is incredibly valuable,” said Ryan, a rookie who posted his third multi-goal game of the season. “Look around; other teams are winning as well, so it’s important for us to control our own fate and put another run together like we did last week.”
For Colorado, the losing streak is the franchise’s longest since they were the Quebec Nordiques and dropped eight in a row in 1992.
Jonas Hiller made 26 saves for Anaheim. He got the start after Jean-Sebastien Giguere allowed four goals on seven shots in the loss to Edmonton before Hiller replaced him. The win was Hiller’s 19th, the same number Giguere has posted this season.
Hiller also made a “save” of sorts when he charged out to knock the puck away and prevent a potential breakaway in the second period, skating then sliding all the way to the blue line on the play.
“I saw that the puck was jumping over (Chris Pronger’s) stick, and they had a chance to go in 2-on-0,” Hiller explained. “‘So I thought I might make it over there. And once you decide to go, you have to go because if you back off, you’re totally lost.”
While Hiller was scrambling to get back, Pronger went to the crease and blocked a Colorado shot.
“Prongs made a save for me, so I may have to buy him dinner or something,” Hiller said.
Said Pronger: “It was a great play by him. It was a situation that he read right away and he started coming quickly. Wen I saw him coming out, I was just trying to get in front of the guy while we were chasing down the puck so that I could give Jonas a chance to get there – and then it’s a matter of trying to get out of the way so that you don’t run your goalie over.”
Colorado’s Peter Budaj made 27 saves.
“We only played for two periods,” Budaj said. “When you don’t play the whole 60 minutes, it’s tough to win a the hockey game. They have a good team.”
Ryan gave Anaheim a 3-1 lead at 4:05 of the third when he beat defenceman John-Michael Liles and Budaj the same way, by sliding a 25-footer between the pads of both for 26th goal. Drew Miller padded the lead to 4-1 when he scooped the puck into the net during a scramble in the crease for his fourth goal.
Ryan’s power-play goal at 4:13 of the second period snapped a 1-1 tie.
After the Ducks’ Corey Perry opened the scoring at 12:50 of the first period, Liles evened it on a power play at 16:39 of the period.
Notes: The Avs haven’t scored more than two goals in any game during their losing streak. … The first of the Ducks’ remaining games is at Edmonton on Tuesday, then they play two next weekend against conference leader San Jose. Anaheim concludes the regular season at Phoenix on April 11.