VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Anaheim Ducks kept their playoff hopes alive, but they nearly killed their coach in the process.
Corey Perry scored the winning goal in the shootout Ducks earned a 6-5 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday before a sellout crowd of 18,630 at General Motors Place. The point for the shootout loss was an important one for the Canucks, who clinched a playoff spot.
The clubs put on an offensive display in the first 40 minutes before tightening up in the third period. But Ducks coach Randy Carlyle was not entertained after watching his team come back from a pair of two-goal deficits.
“It kills you as a coach,” said Carlyle. “The emotions are going in the wrong direction. When you score, you don’t seem to enjoy it as much as it hurts when you let one in.”
The Ducks (40-32-6) moved into seventh place in the tight Western Conference, one point ahead of St. Louis and two ahead of Nashville. It was Anaheim’s fifth straight road win and third overall.
“We live another day,” said Carlyle. “That’s all it is. Win a game, and here we go.”
The Canucks (42-25-10) saw their record home win streak end at 11 games. But with the point for the shootout loss they moved nine points ahead of eighth-place St. Louis, making it impossible for the Blues to catch them. The Blues have just four games left to play.
“We’re in and now we’re going to focus on seeing whether we can get home-ice advantage,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.
Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller snared an Alex Burrows wrist shot on Vancouver’s final shootout attempt to preserve the win.
“I don’t mind (allowing) five goals if we win at the end,” said Hiller. “It’s an important two points and I’m glad we got them. We can definitely play better, more structure, but we’ll take these two points and be happy about it.”
Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne led Anaheim with two goals apiece while Perry also scored in regulation for the Ducks, who overcame a pair of two-goal deficits.
Henrik Sedin, Kyle Wellwood, Alex Burrows, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler scored in regulation for Vancouver.
Anaheim built an early 2-0 lead, but the score was tied 2-2 after the first period and 5-5 after the second as the clubs played offensive hockey for 40 minutes before a scoreless third.
“I don’t know if it was old-fashioned,” said Carlyle. “Both teams would like to make sure that their teams tightened up defensively. We were fortunate enough that we got an extra point in the shootout.”
The Ducks two a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by Selanne, on a power play, and Ryan 16 seconds apart. Burrows was serving an interference penalty on Ryan’s goal, but made up for his miscue by setting up Henrik Sedin’s goal at 15:29. The assist gave Burrows 100 points for his career. Almost half 49, to be exact have come this season.
Just over three minutes later, Wellwood tied the game 2-2 as he put in Steve Bernier’s goalmouth pass. Taylor Pyatt also earned an assist, giving him 100 for his career.
Burrows put the Canucks ahead 3-2 at 3:06 of the second period as he fired in a shot from behind the net off Anaheim goaltender Hiller. Daniel Sedin gave the Canucks a 4-2 advantage on a power play two minutes later as he beat Hiller with a shot from the slot.
But Ryan reduced Anaheim’s deficit to 4-3 less than two minutes later as he sidestepped defenceman Mattias Ohlund and put a backhand just inside the post.
“I considered (a goalie change) after the fourth one,” said Carlyle. “Then when I reviewed the fourth one . . . I just said we’ve got to find a way to rally around this.”
But the comeback took a while. Kesler put the Canucks ahead 5-3 at 10:56 of the middle frame as he deflected Pavol Demitra’s pass through Hiller. Perry brought Anaheim back within a goal at 12:02 as he put in Ryan Whitney’s rebound. Then Selanne forged a 5-5 deadlock on an odd-man rush about four minutes later, setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
“Up, down, up, down, it’s one of those nights where we just keep plugging away and we knew we were going to get our chances if we just kept going to the net and kept battling and we got rewarded for how hard we worked,” said Perry.
But an even bigger effort will likely be required. The Ducks have a difficult stretch drive with back-to-back contests against San Jose and tests against Dallas and a Phoenix squad battling for jobs next season.
The Canucks dropped to second-place in the Northwest Division after Calgary beat Dallas earlier Thursday. But, unlike Caryle, Vigneault felt the game, which featured three fights, was entertaining as the Ducks outshot Vancouver 32-30.
The Vancouver coach was far from upset after the loss, because he recognized the Canucks and Ducks were the NHL’s hottest clubs over the previous 10 games with identical 8-2 records.
“We’ve got a possibility for home-ice (advantage) right now, so we’re definitely going to go for it,” said Vigneault.
Notes: The Ducks scored on their lone power play attempt while the Canucks tallied on one of four . . . Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman told a Vancouver radio station Thursday that he is thinking about inviting Burrows to the Canadian Olympic team tryout camp . . . Canucks winger Rick Rypien played his second straight game after missing 70 because of abdominal surgery and personal reasons. He was foiled by Hiller on a rare second-period breakaway. Vigneault wants to get the gritty Rypien ready for the playoffs.