ANAHEIM, Calif. – Bobby Ryan didn’t think about how desperately the Anaheim Ducks needed the standings point resting squarely on his penalty shot against mighty Detroit.
Ryan just picked a move and executed it perfectly, sending the Ducks pinballing back up in the Western Conference standings.
Ryan scored 2:50 into overtime and the Ducks snapped the Red Wings’ six-game road winning streak with a wild 2-1 victory Wednesday night.
Ryan went down on a partial breakaway moments after the Ducks killed off Detroit’s ninth power play of a penalty-filled game. The American star promptly put his first career penalty shot past Jimmy Howard’s glove for his 30th goal of the season.
“That shot seemed to work for me in the last couple of shootouts,” Ryan said. “There wasn’t any other game plan. If that didn’t work out, he was making the save. I just tried to close my eyes and put it in the right place.”
Dan Ellis made 28 saves for the Ducks, who have won two straight after a five-game skid threatened their playoff chances. Jason Blake tied it for Anaheim early in the third period, spoiling Howard’s bid to shut out the Ducks for the third time this season.
Four games into a seven-game homestand, the Ducks pulled into a ninth-place tie with Nashville in the conference standings with 73 points, but they’re just three points out of fourth place in a messy race that’s not likely to clear up soon.
Ellis, acquired from Tampa Bay last week, looked sharp in his third game filling in for all-star Jonas Hiller, who has been out for most of a month with dizziness and fatigue.
“They were definitely on a high, and we had to find our best game,” Ellis said. “It can be a little bit tough when you give up as many power plays as we did, but we’re prepared to grind it out. The (penalty-killers) really earned their paycheques, and when another goalie steps it up like (Howard) did, you have to dig deep and step it up yourself.”
Pavel Datsyuk scored a second-period power-play goal, and Howard made 26 saves for Detroit, which hadn’t lost on the road since Feb. 5. A 1-for-9 power play doomed the Red Wings, who wasted numerous chances to finish off the penalty-prone Ducks.
Howard made a spectacular glove save with 7:35 left in regulation when all-star Corey Perry broke in alone, but he failed to earn his NHL-leading 32nd victory after getting beaten on a penalty shot for just the second time in Howard’s career.
“Bobby Ryan is a great player, and has a great set of hands on him,” Howard said. “It was a good deke. He capitalized on it.”
Both teams had ample opportunities to end it in the final minutes. The Ducks were called for too many men on the ice with just 12 seconds left in regulation, but Detroit still couldn’t score during 4-on-3 power play in overtime.
“They did a good job and put some pressure on us,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “Their goalie made some saves, and we missed a couple of open nets. The game was set up for us to find a way to get a win, and we didn’t.”
Although Anaheim apparently has plugged its goaltending problems with Ellis and fellow newcomer Ray Emery, the Ducks are finally starting to solve the overall slide that’s threatening to keep them out of the playoffs for the second straight season. With five of their next six games at home, the Ducks realize they can’t waste another week.
“We’re basically in a state where we’re trying to feel good about ourselves,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “Hopefully we’ll give ourselves a little confidence. We were rewarded for hard work and for sticking with it.”
The Wings failed to score on a 93-second two-man advantage during the first period, and they didn’t connect until their sixth power play, created by Anaheim newcomer Brad Winchester’s interference penalty. Datsyuk scored his 20th goal on a fortunate defection, banking it off Ellis’ pads from behind the net.
Anaheim appeared mostly punchless until Blake abruptly fired a long shot from the slot past Howard for the veteran forward’s first goal in nine games.
The Red Wings got another power play with 3:24 to play in regulation when former Detroit defenceman Andreas Lilja held Datsyuk’s stick, but the Wings didn’t threaten to score.
NOTES: The 32-year-old Datsyuk has seven straight 20-goal seasons. … Leading goal-scorer Johan Franzen returned to the Red Wings’ lineup after missing Monday’s win at Los Angeles to attend the birth of his first child. … Detroit C Kris Draper was a healthy scratch, missing his first game since Dec. 22. … Anaheim C Saku Koivu missed his fourth straight game with a strained groin muscle.