Injury-riddled Ducks get job done in shootout win over Flyers

 

It’s beginning to feel a little calamitous in Anaheim. 

The mumps, groin strains, broken bones — the Anaheim Ducks are stuck on a merry-go-round of injuries and illnesses. Every day, it seems as though there are new faces in the dressing room, from either their own minor league system or other from another NHL team. 

Relatively speaking, you could probably say Wednesday morning was business as usual in the training room. Defenseman Eric Brewer, who played in only two games since coming over in a trade from Tampa Bay, was found to have a broken bone in his foot. Goalie Jason LaBarbera was found to have broken his hand Sunday at San Jose. LaBarbara will be out for a few weeks, Brewer a month, maybe more.

The goalie circumstances are so dire that the Ducks brought in former backstop Ilya Bryzgalov for a tryout. 

Calamitous might not quite describe the game they played later Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, but it’s something close to it. A dismal first period, a goal-for-goal and hit-for-hit match in the second and a tie game with only 1.8 seconds left to play in the third.

Finally, Corey Perry gave the Ducks a 5-4 shootout win.

RECAP: Ducks edge slumping Flyers 5-4 in shootout

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It was a crazy day by most teams’ standards, but in Anaheim, it’s just another day.

"We’ve been battling since training camp," left winger Patrick Maroon said, who scored his first goal in five games, his second of the season. "Guys were injured in training camp, then the mumps. We’ve been going hard through it and battling. This is a good group of core guys, we’re a good close team so that’s been what brings us together as a team. And it’s good that we have a good (minor league) system to use guys that come in and fill in."

The funny part is, the Ducks have cleared all of the obstacles thrown at them this season. With 37 points, the Ducks are three points up on Nashville for the best record in the Western Conference. 

It’s been the contributions of some of the unfamiliar faces that have greatly aided the beleaguered club.

Winger Tim Jackman has continued his brilliant skating, young defensemen Josh Manson and Matt Clark have played big minutes in big-game situations, while blueliner Sami Vatanen has been a fourth forward at times. An asset on both the power play and the forecheck, Vatanen scored his seventh goal of the season for a new career high and his 21 points in 27 games leads all Anaheim defensemen.

"He knows when to go and I think he did," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You always think he’s going to get checked but he finds a way to wiggle his way through everybody. I hope he doesn’t stop doing that."

With all of his backups injured, goaltender Frederik Andersen has had little rest, playing in 13 straight games now. Undaunted, his short-term memory has served him well during this brutal stretch.

"It’s very similar to being a pro golfer: If you have a bad shot, you can’t dwell on it, you’ve got to go to the next shot," Boudreau said. "Freddie does a good job of that."

If there’s something the Ducks can’t overcome, we haven’t seen it yet.

"We just have a keep-on-pushing mentality," winger Andrew Cogliano said. "I think guys just know here that winning is the mandate and in order to be successful you’ve got to keep pushing forward and I think we’ve done that pretty well."