|As Ducks prospect Peter Holland tweeted last night: A goal celebration - Can't think of any other situation where it is publicly acceptable for 5 guys to come together and hug it out
With their playoff hopes having faded to a flicker, the Ducks will mostly have to take on the role of spoiler during these final three weeks. And there aren't too many teams in the league they'd rather spoil things for than the San Jose Sharks.
For the time being, the Sharks are in the unfamiliar position of being on the outside of the playoff race, sitting in 10th place in the Western Conference. A win last night over the Ducks at home would have, incredibly, vaulted them all the way up to third, since they would have taken over the Pacific Division lead from Dallas.
But the Ducks made sure that wouldn't happen, at least for one night, twice scoring on the shift right after a Sharks goal and lighting the lamp five times in an unfriendly building for a satisying 5-3 win over their rivals. Jeff Deslauriers
, who got the surprise start to break Jonas Hiller
's string of 32 in a row, was rusty at the start, but got better as the game went on in earning a 27-save win.
"Our team's got a lot of pride and we've played awfully hard from January," said Bruce Boudreau, who has had a pretty good sense of the intra-state rivalries since he got here a few months ago. "Whenever you can sort of derail, a little bit, a California team, you like to do it."
The Ducks have certainly done that this season, having won four of five games against San Jose (they play the final game of their series a week from tomorrow at Honda Center).
Boudreau, who hadn't given any indication after the morning skate that he was going with anyone but Hiller, didn't even tell Deslauriers himself until that morning, reasoning that the 27-year-old “might be a little nervous and not get a good sleep.”
Said Deslauriers, “I was more excited than nervous, but you always have butterflies going into a game. Any game I’m going to play I’m going to have those. That’s normal.”
Boudreau also sat down veterans Jason Blake
and Niklas Hagman
, and made Bobby Ryan
(who just turned 25 on St. Patrick's Day) the "old guy" on a relatively new line with center Nick Bonino
(23 years old) and Kyle Palmieri
Last night, the trio (the PBR line, if you will) looked like they'd been playing together forever, combining for eight points -- Ryan had a first-period goal and two assists, Bonino had a career-high three helpers and Palmieri had big second-period insurance goal and an assist.
"It's fun getting a win," Bonino said, "but to do it against the Sharks is that much better."
Palmieri's goal, which gave the Ducks an all-important two-goal cushion late in the second, was a thing of beauty. Ryan gave him a pretty drop pass on the rush, and Palmieri's first shot was knocked down by the stick of Douglas Murray. But the kid followed up by sneaking the puck in behind goalie Thomas Greiss from a bad angle. Take a look:
Meanwhile, Francois Beauchemin
pinched in on the power play to get a first period goal
, Corey Perry
nicely followed up after Ryan Getzlaf was denied on the breakaway
, Nate Guenin
gave the Ducks three unanswered on his first goal since opening night
vs. Buffalo and George Parros beat the tar out of former teammate Brad Winchester
All in all a pretty good night. The shame of it all is, there haven't been more of those nights in the last few weeks. But if battling a desperate San Jose team in their barn was a challenge, the Ducks will face another one tomorrow night against St. Louis at home. The Blues have surprised everybody by already clinching a playoff spot with a league-high 100 points. It's the first of three straight home games for the Ducks, who have just eight games remaining (four at home and four on the road).