No one can say that the game between the Ducks and Penguins was a lackluster, boring affair. For two teams that don't see each other more than once a year, there seemed to be a lot of bad blood and emotions ran high right from the first face-off.
Ducks were looking for their first back-to-back win of the season. Pittsburgh was looking to redeem themselves from a stinker of a game on Wednesday against Dallas. The Ducks got what they wanted with a 3-2 victory. The Penguins were not nearly as happy, but were at least semi-redeemed with a much better effort than their previous game, but they still fell short.
Despite great chances by both teams, nothing got past Jonas Hiller or Marc-Andre Fleury until the second period. In a strong push by the Ducks, Bobby Ryan scored at 7:35, getting a rebound shot into the net and Anaheim on the board. At 12:22, Ryan Getzlaf extended the lead and at 14:26 Saku Koivu finished off a trifecta of rebounds left for the Ducks to finish off.
Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma wisely took his time-out at that point, trying to settle his team, who were back on their heels. It worked.
"The game got away from us a little bit," Bylsma observed. "Getting down 3-0, but we stuck with it. We kept playing and kept battling. We kept working."
Even though the Penguins have been toothless on the power play, they finally broke their powerless drought (29 pointless attempts) with a goal from Sidney Crosby at 17:27. Crosby deflected Kris Letang's shot and broke his own goal-less drought of five games.
It could have been 3-2 with just seconds remaining in the middle period, but Hiller stopped a point blank shot by Evgeni Malkin, and Anaheim took a two goal lead to the final 20 minutes.
That lead shrunk to one goal when Crosby put a rebound puck between Hiller's legs at 3:48. With the huge contingent of Penguins fans, the building erupted for the opponents. Not to be outdone, the home fans got further involved in the game and you could see the players from both sides feed off the palpable energy of the announced sell-out crowd.
The Ducks were able to hold on to their one-goal lead, fighting off a valiant effort by the Penguins. Now the Ducks need to take the next step - three wins in a row - which they will tackle on Sunday against the visiting Nashville Predators.
"Hopefully it's a stepping stone and we can get some confidence," said coach Randy Carlyle. "That is what we're trying to do, somthing to build on here. We want this building specifically to be a tough place to come into and play. We've accomplished that in these last two games."
In other notes: Teemu Selanne played in his 1200th career game, only the 10th European born player to do so and 87th player ever. His assist on the third goal gave him a total of 1,275 career points, putting him in sold possession of 33rd all time.