On the unofficial Saku Koivu night in Montreal, it would be another member of the Ducks who came away with his team’s glory tonight. Bobby Ryan scored the game-winner in the shootout for the Ducks as they avoided disaster against the Habs winning 4-3.
Anaheim went into the third period with a 3-1 lead but saw it evaporate as the Habs broke out with a full-on attack in the period putting 23 shots on net. Mathieu Darche and Max Pacioretty each had goals in the period to tie the score. From there, the game headed to overtime setting the stage for the possibility of seeing the homecoming Koivu becoming the hero for Anaheim in the extra period, but it didn’t happen as the teams skated scoreless for the final five minutes.
In the shootout, Ryan ended it scoring the only goal of the skills competition in the third round ending a great game for him as he had a goal during regulation to go with his shootout winner. The real star of the night was once again Jonas Hiller as he stopped 37 shots on the game and allowed no goals in the shootout to earn the win. His 21-save third period was what helped keep the Ducks in the game. Carey Price stopped 23 shots in the loss.
For Montreal, it ends a bittersweet night as the fans were more than welcoming to the return of Saku Koivu but saw the former Habs captain do more to help them out by committing three minor penalties as well as assisting on Corey Perry’s 25th goal of the year.
They may be fellow countrymen but when they’re opponents on the ice, all’s fair in love and war. Such is the case for Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan who found out what it’s like to be facing Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller last night in Buffalo.
Ryan was perched near the far post as the Ducks were threatening and as his teammate Ryan Getzlaf (jeez, can we get a few more Ryans involved?) fired a quick no-look one-timer pass between his own legs across the goal mouth to the eager and waiting Bobby Ryan. Ryan’s attempt was handled by Miller who went post to post to make the stop, a true beauty all around.
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Perhaps the most fun moment on the ice in the NHL this season occurred in last night’s Ducks-Wild game in Anaheim. After a race to get the puck in the Minnesota end, Wild captain Mikko Koivu lost his stick going for it in the corner . Getting the stick knocked out of your hands isn’t all that rare of an occurrence, but Koivu’s way of quickly getting a new stick to defend with was. His answer to getting a new stick was to “accidentally” grab Ducks star forward Bobby Ryan’s stick out of his hands.
With Koivu’s stick still laying on the ice and Ryan in need of a new piece of timber to help keep the offensive pressure up, he picked up Koivu’s downed stick. Wouldn’t you know it, the Ducks get a shot on a goal and the rebound came right to him to bury the puck in the net to give Anaheim a 5-2 lead. Ryan held up Koivu’s stick as if he was The Highlander to show him just what he had scored with, obviously still peeved, yet entertained, about having his stick literally taken out of his hands.
Making things even more amazing is that Koivu is a left-handed shot while Ryan is a right-handed shot. Ryan scored the goal on what was his forehand, but the stick’s backhand. Wonders never cease. Topping off the entertainment is the Zapruder-film like breakdown of the Ducks play-by-play crew of John Ahlers and Brian Hayward to figure out what just happened. Enjoy.
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Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford may not make too many starts, but he made it count yesterday leading the Blackhawks to a 3-2 overtime win over the Ducks. The win snapped the Ducks six-game winning streak and it was thanks to saves like this one on Ducks star Bobby Ryan that helped him get it done. Perhaps Crawford has a future in floor gymnastics after this.
Bobby Ryan’s preseason of intrigue takes yet another turn, this time a predictable one. While Ryan was being tried out at center to attempt to give the Ducks three strong centers with Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan, and Saku Koivu, it appears that head coach Randy Carlyle didn’t like the way things were going and will move Ryan back to left wing. Only difference this time is he won’t be on the wing with Getzlaf and Corey Perry, according to the Orange County Register’s Curtis Zupke he’ll be riding shotgun with a couple of old guys.
The idea was that Ryan, the team’s leading goal scorer last season, could use his playmaking skills up the middle of the ice and help give the team depth at center with Ryan Getzlaf and Saku Koivu able to fill out the other center spots on the top three lines.
Carlyle is apparently wavering from that idea, though, because he had Ryan back at his natural left wing position Thursday, with Saku Koivu at center and Teemu Selanne on his usual right wing spot.
“It’s not that we’re throwing it out the window,” Carlyle said of the experiment of Ryan at center. “We put him back at left wing for now and we’ll see how that develops.”
All right so he’s still tinkering and that’s good, but if you’re going to put Ryan at center, letting him continue to hone his game at that position throughout the preseason would seem like the right idea. After all, you don’t want a guy to be feeling his way through things during games that count in the standings. Then again, I’m not the NHL head coach here and Randy Carlyle is, so maybe I should shut my face about this.
Still, having Ryan playing on the same line with Koivu and Selanne sounds like a perfectly acceptable solution as well. With Matt Beleskey getting his shot to run with Getzlaf and Perry, loading up one line with all your scorers on a team that’s not offensively loaded comes off as risky. Figuring out a way to spread the wealth is the right move for Anaheim, but with the amount of guys they’ve got that can put the puck in the net they don’t have a lot of options to make it work.