Darren Eliot
Monday May 4th, 2009

The most compelling series of the second round just got all the more intriguing as it shifts to Anaheim tied at 1-1. It took awhile to get there, but astonishingly, the Ducks scored the game-winning goal early in the third overtime of Game 2 after the Red Wings had badly outshot them from the third period on.

The game-winner wouldn't have been possible without the goaltending of Jonas Hiller, who was absolutely brilliant. He extended the Ducks' rare streak of winning five consecutive playoff games in overtime against the Red Wings: Twice in 2003 and twice in the Western Conference Final in 2007 when the Ducks won the Stanley Cup.

Not that the historical stat mattered. As is often the case in these extended situations, the winner came off the stick of a hard-working, seasoned pro instead of a noted game-breaker. In this case, Todd Marchant played hero. He did it just the way you teach it from youth hockey on up.

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle went with a shorter bench earlier and more often than the Red Wings. Both teams rolled five defensemen, but the Ducks used the line of Bobby Ryan-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry so much that Carlyle decided to spread the wealth in the second overtime, moving Ryan to a line with Teemu Selanne. The change didn't yield much more than a different look, though. The result was the same, with the Red Wings getting roughly three shots for every two fired on goal by the Ducks.

Marchant finally settled things in the third extra session by coming back on the backpressure in perfect position, picking off a pass, getting it to defenseman James Wisniewski on the regroup and taking the return feed with speed in the neutral zone. Defenseman Scott Niedermayer, a mainstay of the Duck's 2007 Stanley Cup champions, jumped up and drove the middle of the ice toward the net, backing off the Red Wings' defense. As he moved right to left entering the Wings' zone, Marchant wafted a perfectly placed wrist shot to the top corner against the grain.

And after the perfect hockey execution, the pure joy of winning such a hard fought game -- no different than when Marchant and Niedermayer were mere youths playing the game for fun. Now, it's their occupation and they've made this series serious business. But a playoff game-winner in triple OT brings out the kid in all of us. That was certainly true of the jubilant Ducks as they mobbed Marchant, both relieved and exuberant. The smiles were worthy of 12-year olds the world over except, of course, for the ever-lengthening playoff beards -- and the specter of this series going the distance.

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