Luca Sbisa capped a huge come-from-behind, 4-3 victory with an overtime goal in what started out as one of the most lopsided games the Ducks have played. The score was only 2-0 in favor of Phoenix after the first period, but the shot margin was one I’ve never seen before after only one period: 30-2. That second Ducks shot? It came from center ice as time expired in the first.
Peter Mueller scored a powerplay goal with about nine minutes remaining in the first period with a slapshot from the point. Less than a minute later, Jeff Hoggan beat Ducks goalie Timo Pielmeier with a snap shot from the right circle.
In the second period the shot difference was only 8-4 in favor of Phoenix, and the Coyotes only scored one goal. It came off the stick of Jim Vandermeer when he took a wrist shot from the right circle to beat goalie J.P. Levasseur, who made a planned switch with Pielmeier at the halfway point of the game.
The Ducks were apparently waiting for a long powerplay to get things started. Phoenix’s Francis Lessard was given a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding with about 13 minutes remaining in the game. Joffrey Lupul then converted at about the ten minute mark with a wrist shot, and Dan Sexton followed suit with a powerplay goal less than three minutes later to bring the Ducks within one.
Then, with just over a minute to play, Lupul tied the score with yet another powerplay goal. All three Ducks goals were on the powerplay and all were scored against Phoenix goalie Josh Tordjman, who relieved Al Montoya at the start of the third period.
The Ducks weren’t finished, though. With Phoenix’s Sami Lepisto in the penalty box for hooking during the overtime session, Sbisa took advantage with a slapshot past Tordjman to cap the rally and give the Ducks the victory.
This wasn’t exactly what the coaching staff wanted to see, but Ducks fans can be happy for various reasons. First, goalie Timo Pielmeier did a fantastic job of keeping the Ducks in the game and this was his second strong performance of the preseason. It’s beginning to look like he will be the Ducks’ goalie of the future, or at the very least a very valuable trade asset.
Second, every goal the Ducks scored was on the powerplay, so we can look forward to at least a 20% conversion rate from the powerplay units. The Ducks have been good in recent seasons on the powerplay, but if it begins to click, we may be able to reach the 30% mark a la Detroit.
Third, the Ducks displayed the explosive offense that fans are expecting to see this season. This expectation comes from the fact that the Ducks upgraded their forward line, but it also became a necessity when key defencemen did not return this season. And although it would have been preferable to spread out the goals, being able to score four goals in 12 minutes is nice to be able to do.
Fourth, Luca Sbisa scored the winner, and added an assist on Lupul’s game-tying goal. This was exactly the kind of progress Ducks fans and the coaching staff hoped to see, and hopefully this will give him confidence for the rest of the preseason. He was still on the wrong side of the plus/minus rating, but all is forgiven since he won the game.
Highlights will be posted as soon as they are available.