By Pete Zarustica/Garden Grove Journal/With wire service reports
With one month to go in the regular NHL season, fans of the Anaheim Ducks can’t complain about a lack of excitement. Regardless of whether the team qualifies for the Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s been a roller coaster ride no matter how you look at it.
After five losses in a row, the Ducks righted the ship and spun off three consecutive wins until that streak stopped Sunday with a loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
Not counting Wednesday’s contest against the New York Rangers (results too late for our deadline), the Ducks have 15 games to go. They stood at 35-26-5, good for 10th place in the Western Conference. The top eight teams make the playoffs.
On Friday, the Ducks will be in Colorado to play the Avalanche. On Sunday, it’s back home to Honda Center to face the Phoenix Coyotes. Next Wednesday (March 16) it’ll be the St. Louis Blues in Anaheim.
The highlight of the Ducks’ streak came Friday night in Anaheim. Lubomir Visnovsky completed a hat trick with a power-play goal with 3.8 seconds to play in overtime to get the 4-3 win.
He’s the first Ducks defenseman to ever get a three-goal game, and is third in the NHL for points by defensemen at 51. His goal came after Teemu Selanne tied the game with a goal with 1:03 remaining in the third period.
“He is so special,” said Selanne of Visnovsky. “He has no weaknesses, really. He can shoot the puck so well and can see the game. He’s the full package. It’s great to see him having success like that.”
Dan Ellis got the win in goal, collecting 23 saves, including one spectacular one-handed grab in overtime.
“It’s awesome,” said Visnovsky. “It was a lucky night for me. We were down by two goals and the team showed character. The confidence is going up for everybody.”
Ah, but on Sunday, that all turned around. It was the Canucks whose confidence was soaring as they posted to a 3-0 win,
“They played a strong defensive game, so you’ve got to give them that,” said Ellis. “They’re the top team in the league for a reason. They don’t beat themselves. They have a strong, sound structure, and they’ve got some good players. They took away our time and space, and we just didn’t have that extra punch to get through it.”