February was a tough month for the Anaheim Ducks. The club first lost their All-Star goalie Jonas Hiller, then quickly fell into a five game loosing streak that not only knocked their confidence, but also their division and conference standings.
With a sub-par goalie in Curtis McElhinney at the helm of the squad, what did you really expect? But, the hockey gods soon shined down on Anaheim and delivered Dan Ellis. Although he is not quite at Hiller’s level, going 3-0-1 with a .918 save percentage is a great start. The Ducks have finally climbed out of the dark hole they were digging, and are doing so in commanding fashion.
The Ducks, with Ellis in goal, snapped their five-game loosing streak on Feb. 27, bettering the Avalanche 3-2. It was a sweet two points for the team who found themselves sitting at the bottom of the Pacific Division, but it was even sweeter for Todd Marchant. The 17-year NHL veteran broke a 70-game scoring drought with his goal late in the second period.
“The bottom line is about wins this time of year, getting into the playoffs and seeing how far it takes you — not how many goals I get,” Marchant told ESPN. “This is the best time of the year — to be playing for something. It was a big two points for our hockey club, and now hopefully this can jump-start us.”
Jump-start is exactly what it did. Just two days later, in front of 15,000 fans at Honda Center, Anaheim did what it hasn’t been able to do all season — beat the Detroit Red Wings. The Ducks opened their season at Joe Luis Arena in Detroit with an embarrassing 4-0 loss and found themselves back at The Joe just 15 days later enduring another loss. The December meeting between the two teams, this time at Honda Center, proved to be no more successful for the Ducks, once again taking a 4-0 blow.
Hoping to extend their win streak to seven, the Wings scored early in the second period. Jason Blake answered back at 1:54 of the third and tied the game. Bobby Ryan was awarded a penalty shot off a hooking call and 2:50 into overtime the right-winger scored his first-ever penalty shot and 30th goal of the season, lifting the Ducks past the second best team in the west.
In their fifth of a seven game homestand, the Ducks hosted division rival Dallas Stars. The wild game extended Anaheim’s win streak to three and brought them back in playoff contention, tied with Dallas and Nashville for eighth. On top of that, Lubomir Visnovsky recorded his second three-goal game in his NHL career, and marked the first time a Ducks defenseman scored a hat trick. Oh, and not to forget, Teemu Selanne also scored his 400th goal in a Ducks uniform.
Anaheim must find a way to keep its momentum going, as it will face the NHL’s top team, Vancouver Canucks, on March 6. Boasting the second best power play and penalty kill in the league, as well as the point’s leader, Daniel Sedin, the Ducks have quite the task ahead of them.