Ducks’ Fowler on winning one-goal games: ‘We’ve had a lot this year’

Expect the unexpected with the Anaheim Ducks. The team sure knows how to keep things interesting.

Take, for instance, their inexplicable ability to win one-goal games. They’ve won 18 of them this season – more than any other team – and haven’t lost one in regulation (18-0-6). The latest came Sunday night at the Honda Center when Cam Fowler potted a rebound in overtime for a 2-1 victory over the Canucks. 

With the win, 15 of the Ducks’ last 17 wins have been won by only a single goal.

Despite being without their best scorer for most of the season, a defense corps that has seen new faces every week and cases of the mumps, bumps and everything in between, when the game is at its toughest the Ducks have been at their best.

"I’d certainly like to win by four or five a few times but it hasn’t really happened," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "We’re a team that, if you look at our roster, we really have to grind it out, especially without Corey (Perry) and Kyle (Palmieri). They’re two pretty offensive weapons that we have and when they aren’t in the lineup, we have to win the battles at the boards, throw it at the net and get the dirty goals."

Fowler’s goal was about as dirty as it gets. Devante Smith-Pelly threw a backhander on net and goalie Ryan Miller kicked it out underneath the skate of Vancouver defenseman Chris Tanev. Fowler smacked it off his skate and in, not even realizing that he had won the game. 

It was his second goal in as many games, both of which were clutch but ugly goals. In the absence of some of their best offensive firepower and with players like Andrew Cogliano marred in a serious offensive slump, the contributions need to come in the form of gritty goals from gritty defensemen.

Good teams can score, great teams can overcome that scoring. 

"Come playoff time, come the time of the year where we’d like to be and hopefully where we see ourselves, this is what every game is like," Fowler said. "You don’t go through the playoffs where there are too many games where there’s like three or four goals scored on any given night, so you have to be comfortable playing in these one-goal games. We’ve certainly had a lot of those this year."

Where most teams would have rested their goalie on the second leg of a back-to-back, the Ducks rolled with Frederik Andersen. Andersen has now started 23 of 24 games but he rewarded the team’s trust with a one-goal, 13-save performance. Finally, he has six regular defensemen playing in front of him, but even when he didn’t he still won nine other games in December, setting a club record by wins in a single month. 

His 10 victories in December were the most since Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur each won 10 in the last month of 2009. 

"I wanted to go back in a play as quickly as possible," Andersen said. "They had a couple good opportunities in the first period, but they didn’t have much. We played really defensively the whole game."

The Ducks’ 54 points remains the most in the league. With no return date for Perry (Boudreau would only say that he is still "close"), it’s safe to expect a few more one-goal games in Anaheim. The stat might look mind-boggling at the moment, but it’s really just business as usual with a team that consistently leaves the hockey world scratching its head anyways.