How one game changed Pittsburgh’s and Anaheim’s seasons in unexpected ways

It was Monday night, December the 17th and the Pittsburgh Penguins were hosting the Anaheim Ducks in PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. The Ducks came back from a two-goal deficit to win the game 4-2. Nothing serious happened you would say, but this game turned out to be potentially season-changing.

Let’s take a look at what happened next. The Ducks lost seven straight games and the Penguins won eight in a row. And now that’s something. But it wasnt just a coincidence, not at all. Going into that game in mid-December, the Ducks were streaking hotter than any other team in the league and the Penguins were not.

Anaheim turned from red-hot to cold soup

Going into that game in Pittsburgh, the Ducks won ten of their last twelve games in the mean time. That comeback win over the Penguins meant their sixth straight win on the road, which tied their franchise record. And they won 11 out of 13 games played. The Ducks, however, didn’t play their best hockey that night and the Penguins players were trying to excuse their loss as they said it was just unfortunate.

Anaheim lost the very next game with giving up a shorthanded goal with just 40 seconds remaining in the third period in Madison Square Garden against the Rangers. The Ducks were miserable that game, still they scored first and were up by one ahead of a final 10-minute stretch of the road game. The Rangers tied it up and won the game while shorthanded with 40 seconds remaining on the clock in that third period.

Maybe the Ducks started to think that now as they are pretty hot and good, they will start to win with low efforts, but that turned out to be huge mistake. They are still in a play-off spot in the Western Conference today, which just documents how much that streak helped them. On the other side, that lost finally woke up the struggling Penguins.

Pittsburgh found blessing in tough loss

The Pens lost 14 out of 23 games going into that game on home ice against the Ducks. They blew a two-goal lead and lost the game, but didn’t feel like they were playing bad hockey. Since then, Pittsburgh won eight straight games and they gave up just nine goals in those eight straight wins, also getting a lot of help from heavily criticised goaltender Matt Murray.

That win by the Ducks in Pittsburgh was probably a lucky one. But no one ever thinks when they win in the NHL, you just need to be lucky sometimes. Luck is just relative and very temporary. If you are headed to the right direction and you still find a way to lose games, just stay with it and you will prevail at some point (i.e. Pittsburgh). Now it’s Anaheim who thinks that they are conceding unlucky losses as of late. But they keep coming.

Tonight, the Ducks host the struggling Oilers in Honda Center, Anaheim, unlike the Penguins face a mighty curse as of now. Pittsburgh faces off against Chicago, a  tea, they have not defeated for nine games in a row. The Penguins will be hoping to end that losing streak and earn their ninth straight win to go to the top of the Metropolitan division.

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