The Anaheim Ducks finally picked up a win on Sunday, landing their first of the season against the Minnesota Wild. They now sit 1-3-1, with just one win in a four game homestand and a paltry five goals for. Four of those five goals came on Sunday night, by the way.
In fact, before Cam Fowler found twine at 10:08 of the first period against the Wild, the Ducks hadn’t scored in 173:12.
“You could see it was like letting the air out of a big balloon,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said of the goal. “And it was the same for the people in the stands and I think that’s why they cheered for so long after it was scored. They wanted to see a goal as bad as we did.”
Richard Rakell, Mike Santorelli and Hampus Lindholm would also add goals for the Ducks, while Nino Niederreiter would score for Minnesota.
Credit for the Ducks’ victory comes down to finally shifting focus and doing the little things right. They worked on putting traffic in front of Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk and made life interesting, which amounted to chances and eventual goals.
“When we’re playing perimeter hockey and we’re getting too cute, that’s when we get in a lot of trouble,” Fowler said. “A lot of the goals we scored were from right in front of the crease, which is the identity of our team, so we got back to doing that. Get some pucks back to the point and feed them through and that’s where our big forwards go to work.”
Those big forwards haven’t exactly found the net thus far, with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf without goals so far and Ryan Kesler without a point in five games. At this point, Santorelli and Lindholm are tied for the team lead in points with two. Tellingly, Perry has only registered six shots on goal while winger Jakob Silfverberg leads the team with 16 shots.
There is no reason to expect that these troubles will continue for the Ducks, as expectations are high for the team and there’s an awful lot of talent to be found. Perry and Getzlaf will get going ultimately and Anaheim will still challenge in the post-season. Probably.
But wishful thinking hasn’t stopped rumours from rattling along, with Boudreau’s job apparently on the line after the lethargic start. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman notes that the Ducks are in a “wait and see” holding pattern, much like the Columbus Blue Jackets are taking a long hard look at Todd Richards. With the win on Sunday, Boudreau likely bought himself some time.
And for now, there’s a lot of relief in the Ducks’ fanbase. One win can snowball into others, which can put this good-to-great hockey team back on track in no time.