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Ducks win one the hard way

They defeat Nashville in overtime.

March 19, 2009|Billy Witz

As Teemu Selanne skated over to the corner, waiting for his teammates to congratulate him, he shook his head in exasperation.

It was not the look of a man who had notched his 1,200th career point on an overtime game-winning goal in a crucial 4-3 victory over Nashville at the Honda Center.

But then it was that type of night Wednesday, when any sense of accomplishment for the Ducks came tinged with frustration.

The Ducks got a much-coveted victory and their slumbering power play awakened, but it was much more difficult than it should have been -- and less rewarding too, given that they allowed Nashville to pick up a point and move into seventh place by surrendering a hard-luck goal.

"It was a big relief for me, but more for the team," Selanne said. "We needed these two points."

It was a game the Ducks could ill afford to lose, but really it was a game they needed to win. The win pulled them to within three points of Edmonton for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference. They can get closer with a win tonight at struggling Phoenix.

Buoying them is the re-emergence of the power play, which emerged from an 0-for-20 streak to contribute the last three goals.

"It's been a dry run for our power play," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said. "It's good that it delivered tonight because it won us the hockey game."

If the Ducks didn't carry momentum into the overtime, they at least carried a man advantage after Vernon Fiddler was called for tripping Chris Pronger with 49 seconds left in regulation.

With each team reduced a man under overtime rules, the Ducks worked their 4-on-3 advantage patiently. When Pronger got the puck at the right point, he hesitated on his back swing and fired a pass at Selanne, who redirected it past goaltender Pekka Rinne 34 seconds into the extra period.

"We kind of made eye contact," said Pronger, who scored his 600th career point with the assist. "I just needed a pump fake to get a lane open and Teemu did the rest."

In addition to letting the lead get away late in the game, the Ducks had plenty other sources of frustration -- most of them planted around the Nashville net.

Ryan Carter hit a post with one shot, Corey Perry was the victim of a referee's blown whistle when he knocked a loose rebound into the net, and Bobby Ryan was muttering to himself after one of several near misses.

But Ryan felt most helpless several minutes after he'd given the Ducks a 3-2 lead 8:22 to play on his 24th goal. It was Ryan's 45th point, tying Dustin Penner's Anaheim rookie record.

As Shea Weber lined up a shot from the point, which Joel Ward deflected past Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Ryan was without his stick.

"I seemed to break three or four tonight at the most inopportune times," Ryan said. "I just looked down there [at his stick] before the guy got the puck at the point and there was no bottom to it."


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