In the 23 years that the Anaheim Ducks (formerly the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim) have been in the NHL, they have made the postseason in 13 seasons. Of those 13 seasons, twice they were matched up against the Calgary Flames. Twice they bettered them. Is third time the charm for the Flames, or will the Ducks continue to soar?
History of a Series: Anaheim Ducks versus Calgary Flames
The Ducks first run in with the Calgary Flames came in the days of the Mighty Ducks. It was 2006 and the Mighty Ducks had earned 98 points that year, good enough to sneak in the postseason with the sixth spot in the Western Conference. Calgary finished with 103 points, third in the West, and the top team out of the old Northwest Division. The regular season series had ended in a tie, and the playoffs would prove to be just as tight.
2005-06 Western Conference Quarterfinals
The Flames drew first blood in the series, a 2-1 overtime game that ended with a Darren McCarty marker 9:45 into the extra frame. Both Miikka Kiprusoff and Ilya Bryzgalov posted impressive performances, a trend that would continue throughout the series. Game Two was another tight affair, but unlike Game One it was an offensive duel. Newly-acquired Chris Kunitz opened the scoring in the first, helping the Mighty Ducks to a 3-0 lead. A shorthanded marker from Jarome Iginla and Kristian Huselius‘s power-play blast brought the Flames closer, but Samuel Pahlsson dealt the final blow in the third, evening the series at one.
The two teams continued to trade games. Calgary won Game Three 5-2, the Mighty Ducks took Game Four, 3-2 in overtime. Game Five was more of the same for the series, and its top offensive force. Iginla potted his fourth, and fifth goals of the series, leading the Flames to a 3-2 victory. Kiprusoff was his usual steady self. For the Mighty Ducks, Jean-Sebastien Giguere gave up a disastrous three goals on eight shots. He was quickly pulled, but by then it was too late, Bryzgalov’s 19-straight saves weren’t enough.
Facing elimination in Game Six the Mighty Ducks needed their leaders to lead, and that’s exactly what they got. Teemu Selanne netted his second tally of the series, and Scott Niedermayer notched the winner on the man-advantage with just over five minutes to go in the third. Bryzgalov was given a full 60 minutes this time, and stopped 21 of 22 shots.
Game Seven was a harrowing affair for Flames fans. A scoreless first period bled into the second frame. Five minutes in it was the Mighty Ducks on the board first. Selanne with his third of the series. For 59 minutes the game was in reach, but at 19:01 of the third period, Ruslan Salei, a defenseman who had notched just 19 points in 78 regular-season games played hero. The Mighty Ducks were up 2-0 with just seconds to go, forced to take Kiprusoff off for the extra-attacker. With 20 seconds left Anaheim capitalized: Jeff Freisen, acquired late in the season from the Washington Capitals, slung the puck into the empty net. Game. Set. Match. The Mighty Ducks were off to the Conference Semifinal.
2014-2015 Western Conference Second Round
The second postseason meeting between the Ducks and Flames was, frankly, nothing like the first. In 2006 the two teams were fairly evenly-matched, each boasting some of the leagues best and brightest stars. Two seasons ago the same was not true. The Flames had a darling run to the postseason, but their underlying numbers suggested they weren’t as dominant as their recent run of play. A First Round match-up against the Canucks was the only reason Calgary had made it to the Second Round.
The Ducks on the other hand were a typical Bruce Boudreau team: a dominant possession team, capable of grinding out wins. Anaheim had won the regular season series 3-2, but most pundits agreed, this was a mere formality.
Game One went the way many expected, Anaheim pummeled the Flames 6-1. Jonas Hiller was chased after just 14 shots, 11 of which he stopped. Karri Ramo stepped in and didn’t give up the crease for the rest of the series. Game Two was another tidy affair. Frederik Andersen made a 30-save shutout, Matt Beleskey, Hamphus Lindholm, and Nate Thompson all tallied, and the Flames were shutout 3-0. Up 2-0, the Ducks were on cruise control.
Game Three was another matter. Up 3-2 in the third period Sam Bennett appeared to have tied the game with just over six minutes left in regulation, but officials called off the goal. Video review ruled that it was inconclusive as to whether the puck completely crossed the line. It seemed Calgary was on their way to yet another defeat, but then with 19.5 seconds left in the game, a miracle. Johnny Gaudreau careened past the blue line, stopped up at the hash-marks, walked in unguarded and ripped a shot short-side shelf. The Saddledome went wild. That energy carried on into the extra frame where just 4:24 in Mikael Backlund gave the Flames their first win of the series.
Game Four was a 4-2 win for the Ducks, setting up an elimination game at the Honda Centre, a place where the Calgary Flames had not recorded a win since April 4, 2004. Suffice to say, they were due. Unfortunately the Hockey Gods disagreed.
Tied at two goals apiece, the two teams headed into overtime, a period the Flames had no business being a part of. By the end of regulation the shots were 40-19 in favour of the Ducks. Overtime was more of the same. For 2:26 the Flames failed to register a shot, and it came back to haunt them. Corey Perry put one past an exhausted Ramo. The Flames were out, and the Honda Centre curse continued. In fact, it still continues. 13 years later the Flames have yet to win in Anaheim. They’ll need to kill a few horcruxes if they hope to vanquish their demons this time around.