Pittsburgh beats Ducks, 4-3, for seventh straight victory on the road – LA Times
By Robyn Norwood, Los Angeles Times
The difference between the Ducks and the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins did not look as vast on the ice Tuesday as the gulf between the teams in the NHL standings.
That gap grew a little wider after a 4-3 victory gave the Penguins their NHL-best 12th victory of the season and a 7-0 start on the road that ties a league record.
Still, the intensity and effort the Ducks played with was strikingly better than in some games they have played at the Honda Center, where a crowd of 16,128 saw the liveliest home game of the season by the unexpectedly struggling team.
“We’re pushing. We’re trying,” said Corey Perry, who scored two goals, raising his team-leading total to 10. “Everyone in here is trying their hardest.”
The Ducks earned points in their previous two games, a win and a shootout loss, but are mired near the bottom of the NHL standings with a 4-7-2 record.
“I thought we did probably play one of our better games of the year,” captain Scott Niedermayer said. “[But] we need to win some games. We could have won this one tonight.”
Tied after two periods, 2-2, the game was decided in a few flurries in the third.
Alex Goligoski gave Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead with a hard shot from high in the slot near the blue line that beat Jonas Hiller at 7:55. The Ducks matched the goal 19 seconds later, when Pittsburgh lost the puck behind their own goal and Teemu Selanne got it to Saku Koivu at the corner of the net.
It took 59 seconds for Pittsburgh to come back again, when Pascal Dupuis scored at 9:13.
The Ducks held off yet another Pittsburgh power play in the third — the Penguins went 0 for 6 and are 0 for 14 over their last three games.
But the Ducks couldn’t quite break through on an intense sustained attack around the three-minute mark, when Niedermayer was one of many with scoring chances, particularly after one of the Penguins lost his stick.
“I had a couple of chances,” Niedermayer said. “It was a good shift, but one of their players made a sliding save on me.”
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves for the Penguins, including a big glove save on Koivu from close range in the third.
“I got a good shot, but not high enough,” said Koivu, who didn’t think Fleury saw the shot. “I think it hit him right in the glove.”
The Ducks managed three points in their previous two games after a four-game losing streak.
They played better than they had been defensively in stretches, despite the absence of James Wisniewski, serving the first game of a two-game NHL suspension for a hit on Phoenix Coyotes’ Shane Doan on Saturday.
The Ducks thought the hit — which didn’t result in a penalty during the game — was legal, and Doan not only returned to the game, he later fought Wisniewski.
Regardless, the suspension leaves the Ducks without a physical defenseman who had nine assists in nine games and had a team-leading plus-minus rating of plus-six.
The Penguins were short-handed too, particularly without Evgeni Malkin because of a strained shoulder, but they still have Sidney Crosby.
“You play a team as skilled as they are, they find a way to put the puck in the back of the net,” Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said.
“We had lots of chances and there was lots of frustration coming to the bench. The emotion that we displayed at the end was consistent throughout the game. They played and competed. If we continue to play with that level of emotion and just raise our execution a little bit, then we will see a lot of positive signs.”
Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere resumed practicing lightly this week after aggravating a groin injury Oct. 24. . . . Ducks forward Erik Christensen cleared waivers Tuesday but has not been reassigned and was a healthy scratch. . . . The camouflage jerseys the Ducks wore in warm-ups were to promote Operation Homefront night Saturday against Phoenix. The group provides emergency and morale assistance for returning troops.