Ducks get great reviews
Leave it to the captain to lead the Ducks home on equal footing in the Western Conference finals.
Scott Niedermayer again showed his ability to seize the big moment Sunday night as he scored at the 14:17 mark of overtime in Game 2 to give the Ducks a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings and even the series at a game apiece.
Niedermayer’s quick wrist shot blew past a surprised Dominik Hasek on the short side to give the Ducks their third consecutive overtime victory in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It also allowed them to grab home-ice advantage as they won their first game at Joe Louis Arena since the 2003 playoffs.
“That’s why he’s always up for the Norris Trophy,” Ducks winger Dustin Penner said. “That’s why he’s wearing the ‘C.’ He’s a playoff performer.”
Avoiding a 2-0 deficit and staring at a must-win Game 3 Tuesday night at the Honda Center was first and foremost on the Ducks’ minds.
“It would have been disappointing for sure,” said Ducks forward Corey Perry, who had two assists. “We wanted to come in and we wanted to steal one in here and we did that. We weren’t thinking about losing two of them here. We had the attitude that we were going to win one and go home.”
The Ducks overcame their propensity for bad penalties and shaky penalty killing with effort and persistence. For the second consecutive game, they outshot the Red Wings, but this time they got to the net with regularity to make things difficult for Hasek.
Andy McDonald and Travis Moen scored goals that needed reviews but were justly rewarded. And then there were the brothers Niedermayer, who were front and center on the deciding play.
Rob Niedermayer got the puck in the right corner of the Detroit zone and dropped it to his brother, who pinched in from the right side. Scott made a move into some open space and snapped it past Hasek for his second playoff overtime winner, both in this postseason. It was also his 12th overtime goal and third in two years with the Ducks.
“This is totally different,” he said. “Whoever puts it in, it doesn’t matter.”
Anaheim dominated play for the first half of the game and managed a 2-1 lead when Rob Niedermayer and McDonald scored goals as power plays ended. McDonald’s goal also came after Kirk Maltby put in a short-hander for Detroit.
Penalty problems, which have haunted the Ducks all season, gave the Red Wings some life. Nicklas Lidstrom tied the score at 2-2 with a power-play goal after Rob Niedermayer’s high-sticking penalty.
The Ducks put themselves in more hot water when Chris Pronger and Sean O’Donnell took penalties 24 seconds apart in the final minute of the second. With a five-on-three advantage for the first 1:36 of the third, Pavel Datsyuk gave Detroit the lead.
After killing 53 of 56 penalties in the first two series, the Ducks have given up four power-play goals over the first two games.
“It’s an area we can improve on,” McDonald said. “For whatever reason, it’s not going the way it’s gone in the past.”
The Ducks pressed on even though reward seemed out of their reach. “You never want to let those thoughts into your mind,” Penner said. “As soon as they creep in, you kind of have to push them out.”
The equalizer came at 5:06 of the third when light-scoring grinder Moen got his fourth goal in the postseason after Samuel Pahlsson won a faceoff against Detroit’s Kris Draper in the offensive zone.
Moen dug the puck out and quickly fired it on net. Hasek got in front of the shot, but the puck got trapped between his pants and left leg pad, with his momentum carrying him and the puck across the goal line.
“I wasn’t sure what [Hasek] was doing,” Moen said. “I just said ‘It was in, it was in.’ ”
From there the Ducks imposed their will in overtime as they put seven more shots on goal while Jean-Sebastien Giguere faced two. Giguere stopped 24 to improve to 11-1 in overtime during the playoffs.