ANAHEIM, Calif. – Bobby Ryan spent most of the past month struggling to score and worrying that the Anaheim Ducks’ troubles would force him to leave his beloved Newport Beach for some frigid place back East.
Ryan was long overdue for a lucky break, and he finally got it after a few calming words from his new coach.
Ryan’s awkward shot glanced off Drew Doughty and past Jonathan Quick with 48.8 seconds to play, and the Ducks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Tuesday night for their first victory under Bruce Boudreau.
Jonas Hiller made 37 saves for the Ducks, who won for just the fourth time in 22 games. Ryan, the subject of innumerable trade rumours, and Corey Perry scored first-period goals for the Ducks, who have blown 2-0 leads in each of Boudreau’s first three games.
“It’s tough not to get down on yourselves,” Ryan said of the Ducks, who had lost nine of 10. “We’ve been through it so many times and we’ve given up leads so many times, and we did it again tonight. But Bruce did a good job behind the bench, telling guys, ‘Let’s move forward. We’re not going to be beaten tonight.’ And I think he instilled that confidence in us.”
Ryan won it when he slipped into the circle after Teemu Selanne, who had two assists, took a draw. Ryan bulled his way to the net, chipping the puck forward and getting a looping pinball bounce off Doughty for the winner.
“It’s not the Cup, but it felt pretty good,” said Boudreau, who spent four seasons coaching the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester. “There’s no doubt. I felt really good for the players because they were smiling, and they worked so hard. If it had gone the other way after another lead like that, I was a little worried about it. We got a lucky break, but they got a lucky break, too, so it evened out.”
Justin Williams ended a 17-game goal drought by scoring with 11:10 to go on a play that began with a wacky bounce off the boards. Quick stopped 24 shots for the Kings, who beat their area rivals in back-to-back games in mid-November to kick off the annual Freeway Faceoff.
“(Ryan) was just trying to put it on net,” Quick said. “I think (Kings defenceman Rob Scuderi) got a stick on it, and then it hit (Doughty), and kind of just lollipopped right into the net.”
Slava Voynov also scored for Los Angeles, which hasn’t scored more than two goals in six straight games.
“I thought we generated some opportunities here,” said Kings coach Terry Murray, denied his 500th career victory. “We had plenty of good looks and point-blank situations. I liked our attitude. If you do that consistently, you’re going to get some more goals.”
The game ended a stretch of 30 days at home in the last 31 for the Ducks, whose lengthy slump is even uglier considering they haven’t travelled farther than Phoenix since Nov. 5. Anaheim plays seven of its next eight on the road.
Ryan scored 8 minutes in when Quick misplayed the puck behind his net, sending it straight to Selanne on the side boards. Selanne put it in front for Ryan, who swung wildly and fell flat on his backside while getting just enough of the puck for his eighth goal.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf connected with Perry for the NHL MVP’s team-leading 12th goal a few minutes later. Perry then was hurt when he fell backward while playing the puck near Los Angeles’ bench early in the second period, but he returned after a brief trip to the locker room.
Anaheim was sturdy defensively until Voynov scored with 15.9 seconds left in the second period with help from Anze Kopitar, who drove the net, and Dustin Penner, who made an exceptional cross-ice pass to the wide-open Russian rookie for his fourth goal.
After Anaheim defenceman Cam Fowler’s clearing pass bounced wildly off the boards, Jarret Stoll grabbed the puck and found Williams for a tap-in goal. Williams, a three-time 20-goal scorer, hadn’t scored since Oct. 27.
“I think they’re a very fragile group right now, and we’re not out of the woods yet, but maybe we can build on this,” Boudreau said.
NOTES: Ducks enforcer George Parros played his first game since returning from a 13-game absence with a detached retina. Parros played three seasons under Boudreau inManchester. … Perry, Getzlaf and Selanne have scored 12 points apiece in their last 10 games. … Before the game, Anaheim recalled C Nick Bonino and reassigned G Jeff Deslauriers to the minors. Bonino, who was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, when he got the call, wasn’t in the Ducks lineup.