There was a stat that the Anaheim Ducks were vaguely aware of late Tuesday night. A two-goal lead isn’t nearly enough of a cushion against a team that won twice in its last three games using a third-period comeback and is 5-6-0 when trailing after 40 minutes.
Sure enough, the Calgary Flames applied the pressure needed and cut the Ducks’ 3-1 lead with 11 minutes to play. Later on in the waning minutes of the game, it looked as though they had tied the game but the goal was disallowed. The Ducks hung on until the end to earn two points but it was their fourth game in a row where the goal differential has been only one.
Just one is all you need, yes, but the Ducks would like a little breathing room.
"I saw a stat the other day about how many comeback wins and points they get," said winger Kyle Palmieri. "They play as a desperate team, you see that with all the comeback wins. They’re a team that never gives up and knows that can come back in the third. But we got two points."
But it was the way in which the team won that gives coach Bruce Boudreau some optimism as they head into a brutal stretch where the next four of five opponents have 24 points or more. There is a bigger lesson to be learned.
"It’s important. The snowball starts getting bigger and bigger," he said. "You start learning how to win a little bit better. Every game we play is close, so I was hoping we’d have a little bit of a breather in the last 10 minutes, but those things don’t happen.
"Hopefully it’s a learning experience for us that down the road will pay off dividends."
The Ducks benefitted from goals and efforts typically reserved for later in the season. Even in November, every point is a battle for the Western Conference leaders, who would like nothing more than to hold off Calgary in the Pacific Division standings.
"That’s what happens they get good pressure and a bounce at the end. They made a nice play, had a good tip," said goaltender Frederik Andersen. "We know that they have the ability and they can come back. But that’s something that we have in this locker room too, so that’s a really good feeling. We know how it is for them and no matter what the score is, they know they can come back and they were close today. That’s how it is sometimes but we were good to keep them away the last 30 seconds."
RECAP: Ducks beat Flames at home for 19th straight time
Andersen stood on his head, Palmieri took a hit and scored a goal from his knees in order to alleviate his linemates’ tired legs, Devante Smith-Pelly attempted to create enough traffic to block TJ Brodie’s goal and the Ducks out-shot the Flames 34-29. It was the 19th straight win over Calgary at the Honda Center, a streak that dates back to January of 2004, but it almost wasn’t as the Ducks still are suffering late-game lapses.
It was a short one, yes, but come Friday against Chicago, or May against Los Angeles, a short lapse is sometimes all a top team needs.
"Those games are kind of fun to coach when you’re in them," Boudreau said. "When you play the best in the world and you sit there and say, ‘Hey, if we don’t play as good as we can play, we’re going to get burnt pretty bad.’ Edmonton found that out last week and that’s the kind of team they have and the capabilities that they have."