It might not have been glamorous, but the Ducks found a way to grind out a greasy 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The win improved their record to 4-1-0 (eight points) this season, matching the best start in franchise history (four other occasions). Allowing just one goal tonight, the Ducks have allowed only six goals this season, a franchise-best through five games (previously nine), and lead the NHL in goals allowed per-game (1.20).
"We fought hard," said defenseman Cam Fowler, who scored a record-tying goal in the win. "In this league, it's not easy playing back-to-back, especially against a team that was pretty desperate and looking for a win on home ice. It wasn't pretty by any means, but I liked the fight from our guys. Millsy stepped up and kept us in it the whole night. It was a good team effort from everybody."
For most of the game, the Ducks were fighting it - relying on the venerable Ryan Miller to keep them close. But in a span of less than two minutes (1:57 to be exact), the Ducks found all the offense they would need.
Strangely enough, while the Ducks are still in search of their first power-play goal of the season, they got on the board tonight with a shorthanded tally from PK extraordinaire Jakob Silfverberg. The Ducks were gifted a fortunate bounce when their clearing attempt deflected off a linesman near the bench, which allowed Rickard Rakell to gain possession and enter the zone with Silfverberg on a 2-on-1. Though Rakell's shot was denied by Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, Silfverberg pounced on the rebound for his second goal of the season. With the goal, Silfverberg tied Sammy Pahlsson (13) for fifth on the franchise's all-time shorthanded points list.
Video: ANA@CBJ: Silfverberg finds rebound, scores SHG
The goal came at a time when the game was heavily controlled by the Blue Jackets. So while Blue Jackets fans were still trying to process what transpired, the Ducks responded again when Fowler joined the rush and buried a shot low-blocker on Korpisalo. It was Fowler's 60th career goal, placing him in a tie with Scott Niedermayer for the all-time franchise lead for goals by defensemen.
Video: ANA@CBJ: Fowler rifles Kase's feed into the twine
"It's pretty cool," said Fowler. "Scotty is one of the best defensemen to ever play the game. One of the greatest Ducks of all time. By no means do I compare myself to him, but it's nice to be mentioned in the same sentence as him."
Speaking of milestones, tonight Ryan Getzlaf surpassed Corey Perry (988) for the all-time franchise lead in games played. Selected in the first round (19th overall) of the 2003 NHL Draft, Getzlaf made his NHL debut on Oct. 5, 2005 at Chicago, and has gone on to record 925 points (262g/663a) and a +147 rating in 989 career NHL games.
Making his first start of the season, Miller turned in a steady 26-save performance in the second game of a back-to-back that opened yesterday with a 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The only goal Miller allowed tonight was from a severe angle off the stick of Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois.
"I thought the boys played great," said Miller. "They're a team that really wants to get pucks [on] net. They were right in there around me. I was chipping a little bit of rust off, but I was happy to get a win, for sure."
It was an impressive response to their defeat last night, and a good test of character for a team that has now played five regular-season games under head coach Dallas Eakins.
The Ducks will finish off their four-game road trip on Monday morning (10 a.m. PT) against the Boston Bruins.