Detroit-Anaheim: We Have a Series! Ducks Shock Wings in OT Thriller

jonathan staub@JStaubSportTalkCorrespondent IMay 4, 2009

DETROIT - MAY 03:  Todd Merchant #22 of the Anaheim Ducks celebrates his game winning goal in the third overtime with Rob Niedermayer #44, Drew Miller #18, Scott Niedermayer #27, Corey Perry #10 and James Wisniewski #34 to beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 3, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

12 years after he scored the overtime game-winner for the underdog Edmonton Oilers in a game seven against the Dallas Stars, Todd Marchant struck again in overtime for only the second time in the playoffs.

1:15 into the third overtime Marchant slipped a shot past Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood to give Anaheim, perhaps, their biggest win since the one that had them sippin’ champagne out of Lord Stanley’s Cup two years ago.

"Not many games get decided off my stick, that's for sure," said Marchant. "It's a tremendous feeling, but again, it's a team effort. Everyone has to be held accountable. Everyone has to contribute. We got contributions from everyone tonight. That's what it takes in the playoffs."

Ryan Getzlaf, who leads all playoff scorers with 13 points in eight games, scored Anaheim’s first goal at 8:16 of the first to tie it at one.

34 seconds later Getzlaf assisted on Chris Pronger’s power play goal that put Anaheim up 2-1.

Getzlaf continued to be the catalyst for Anaheim as he assisted on a Ryan Carter power play goal at 4:42of the second which put the Ducks back in front 3-2; Getzlaf has now registered a point in seven of Anaheim’s eight playoff games.

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"In my mind, he's the best player in the league," teammate Teemu Selanne said. "If there's a better one all-around player, show him to me.”

While there may be a three-player-contingent playing in Washington that might have something to say about that, you will be hard pressed to find a player skating better than Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf this postseason.

Brad Stuart kicked off the scoring for Detroit on the power play 6:00 into the first when an errant puck deflected off of an Anaheim defender and past goaltender Jonas Hiller.

After the Anaheimflurry, Mikael Samuelsson buried a shot behind Hiller at 13:54 to send the Ducks and Wings to the locker rooms tied at two.

Johan Franzen tied the game at three in the third with a ridiculously placed shot over of the short-side shoulder of Hiller, and the two teams would play in first multiple overtime game since Detroit fell to Pittsburgh in game five of the Stanley Cup Finals last season; that game too went three overtimes.

Franzen has scored a point in all six of Detroit’s playoff games this season, and has a goal in three straight.

Getting to overtime has been the key to success against Detroit in the postseason. Anaheim has won five straight playoff games against Detroit including two in the semifinals of their Stanley Cup season two years ago.

"When you can get it into overtime on the road, anything can happen," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We were fortunate to have one shot find the back of the net before they did."

Anaheim has had their fair share of overtime games in the playoffs. Since 2003, the Ducks are 14-3 in their 17 postseason overtime games, the most of any team in that span.

Marchant’s goal, which was the fastest to end a game that exceeded two overtimes in NHL postseason history, may be Anaheim’s biggest goal of the season.

Coming back from a 2-0 series deficit to a team of Detroit’s caliber would have been a hefty feat.

“We had to go back to Anaheim tied," Anaheim forward Corey Perry said. "That was our goal.”

That goal has been reached, and Anaheim has now seized the home-ice advantage in this series.

"I don't think anybody came into this series thinking there would be a sweep," Babcock said. "Or, that it would be easy."

For those that watched the first two games of this series, nothing will be coming early to either team. The ferocious physicality of both teams has sent a message loud and clear…

Every inch of ice will be earned.

Detroitis a big, fast and physical team. If there is a team that can match the Hockeytown muscle…it is Anaheim.

Detroit managed 62 shots on net in Sunday’s epic encounter. Unfortunately for them, Anaheim had a hungry young goaltender between the pipes.

Jonas Hiller was outstanding for the Ducks, and has been since taking over the starting role from Jean-Sebastien Giguere; it hasn’t been easy for the backbone of the 2007 Stanley Cup Champs, but he has been very supportive of his counterpart, who also happens to be a good friend.

"It's really hard, extremely hard, probably one of the hardest things I've faced in my career," Giguere said Saturday. "It's not a situation that's a whole lot of fun for me. But you know, Jonas deserves what he's getting. He's worked extremely hard since he's got here. He didn't steal the job--he just deserves it. And that's the bottom line."

For those still questioning the validity of Hiller’s play, allow Sunday to serve as justification of the second year netminder’s arrival.

After outplaying Evgeni Nabokov of the President Trophy San Jose Sharks, Hiller has amassed a 1.84 goals against average and .951 save percentage in his seven playoff games this season.

"I felt comfortable, I felt good out there," said Hiller. “Yeah, they had more shots on net, but I think we played pretty solid. We were patient enough. Sometimes it takes three overtimes before you win."

Patience is important, but it takes outstanding play for a goaltender making his first postseason appearance to stop 59 shots from the defending champs.

"There were chances to win the game," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "And, we didn't do it."

Detroit had their chances, but was unable to capitalize on several scoring chances.

"Ozzie was playing outstanding," said Marian Hossa. "Too bad we didn't win the game for him. He made some huge saves for us."

Chris Osgood was outstanding for the Red Wings, stopping multiple breakaways, close range shots and keeping Detroit in the game late.

But even his 42 saves were not enough.

If the Red Wings are to win in Anaheim they are going to need one of their big lines to wake up.

Hossa, as well as Pavel Datysuk, were scoreless in game two. All they have to show in this series is a power play assist in game one.

"There's no question about it. Your best players have to be your best players," said Babcock. "The good thing about those guys is that they know what's taking place thus far in the playoffs and thus far in this series. They know they have to be better, but we all can be better."

The Red Wings will need to be much better, as the eighth seeded Ducks are now 5-3 against the top two seeds in the Western Conference this postseason.

There is no doubt that Charlie Conway, Adam Banks, Fulton Reed and Gordon Bombay are rallying the troops in southern California.

You know…maybe that first round upset wasn’t really an upset at all…


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