Ducks win, 5-1, over Devils in a real breeze for Ilya Bryzgalov
It didn’t rise to the level of his signature “humongous” description, but the showing by backup goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and the Ducks in a 5-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday was close.
“Tremendous,” was the word Bryzgalov used to define a team-wide focus on defense that limited New Jersey to one shot on goal in the second period and 15 overall to give the colorful goalie his first win as a Duck and at Honda Center since Oct. 15, 2007.
“They battled so hard to make my job very easy tonight,” he said.
It was a night of drought-ending performances for the Ducks, as forward Patrick Maroon snapped a 17-game goal-less skid dating to Dec. 3 with a third-period goal and forward Jakob Silfverberg contributed a two-goal game to end a pointless rut dating to Dec. 13.
“Been a long time and felt good to get a couple,” Silfverberg said. “I’ve been struggling to get shots, powerful shots at the net. That’s a strength I have in my game, and was something it felt good to get back to.”
It simply was good to be back playing for Ducks forward Matt Beleskey, who was benched Wednesday for recent ineffectiveness but answered Friday with a hard first-period shot to the upper body that forced New Jersey’s starting goalie Cory Schneider from the game. He was replaced by backup Keith Kinkaid to start the second period.
Three minutes and 16 seconds into Kinkaid’s night, Beleskey left behind a pass that defenseman Hampus Lindholm blasted past the goalie for a 2-1 Anaheim lead.
Silfverberg then made it 3-1 by deflecting in a backhanded shot by Andrew Cogliano.
A game after shutting out Toronto, 4-0, Anaheim (29-10-6) closed out a 6-2 homestand by clamping down on defense, especially in the second period, tying a franchise record with the one shot allowed that was last accomplished Oct. 31.
“That’s the way we want to play, and today was a good day for us,” Lindholm said. “We blocked  shots, kept getting pucks deep. They couldn’t get it into our zone, almost all night.”
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said there’s promise in the defensive prowess as his team moves to Staples Center on Saturday night for a showdown against the Kings, who eliminated them in last season’s playoffs.
“That’s what L.A. did to win the Cup, played consistently you allow two goals or less, you’re in every game,” Boudreau said. “Team defense comes first, and when you have success with that, usually points follow.”
The most important beneficiary was Bryzgalov, a 2000 draft pick of Anaheim who was waived less than a month after his final 2007 win in the arena. He was signed Dec. 9, gave up two goals in a relief appearance, then suffered two losses.
He admitted he was getting cold during the lapses in action Friday. “You’re kind of not in the game some stops and starts in the crease,” he said. “Now, finally, the team has gotten two points with me.”
The Ducks put 15 shots on goal in the first period compared to the Devils’ five, taking a 1-0 lead 4:09 into the game.
Right wing Corey Perry appeared to try sliding a pass to the crease. It deflected off Schneider’s stick into the goal for Perry’s fourth goal in 38:37 following his Wednesday night hat trick against Toronto.
“They just came right at us,” New Jersey Coach Lou Lamoriello said. “They’re where they are for a reason. They just beat us to the puck. They outmuscled us.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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