Miller, rookies send Ducks past playoff-bound Flames, 3-1
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — After Ryan Miller wrapped up his 378th career victory and skated off to an ovation from the Honda Center crowd, the veteran goalie seemed hopeful about the future for himself and the Anaheim Ducks.
The Calgary Flames are just killing time until their bright future starts next week in the playoffs.
Rookies Sam Steel and Max Jones scored first-period goals and the Ducks continued their strong finish with a 3-1 victory over Calgary on Wednesday night.
The 38-year-old Miller made 25 saves in his first win since March 5, and he seemed hopeful it won’t be his last. The winningest U.S.-born goalie in NHL history isn’t certain to return as John Gibson’s backup next year, but he was cautiously optimistic about his hockey future.
“It means a lot to end the season on a win and a positive note as a goaltender,” Miller said. “I feel like I can play. We’ll have to see what the future holds. Still unsure of a few facts. I feel I can still play. Just want it to be the right situation.”
Captain Ryan Getzlaf also scored for the Ducks, who responded to a 6-1 loss to first-place Calgary last week with their 10th win in 16 games overall.
“You want to win every night, but when a team beats you that bad, you definitely want to come back and have a better showing,” Steel said.
Anaheim’s streak of six straight playoff appearances will end next week thanks to its disastrous 5-21-4 midseason slump. But the Ducks will return in September with a wealth of young talent — including two promising rookies who put Anaheim up 2-0 less than seven minutes in.
Steel scored for the first time since his hat trick March 26 in Vancouver, while Jones got his second NHL goal to end an 11-game scoring drought.
“You always want to contribute, and (coach Bob Murray) is giving us a chance to do that, so it’s awesome,” Steel said.
Derek Ryan scored and David Rittich stopped 29 shots for the Pacific Division champion Flames, who will start the postseason next week as the top seed in the Western Conference. With nothing to gain from a win, the Flames rested several healthy regulars, including 82-point scorer Sean Monahan and 78-point scorer Elias Lindholm.
“I didn’t think we had a lot of jump or a lot of fire,” Ryan said. “It’s kind of tough to play in a game like this, but you still have to find a way to be professional. We had our chances, but (it was) just kind of a lackluster performance in my opinion.”
Johnny Gaudreau got his 98th point with an assist on Ryan’s first-period goal, extending his scoring streak to five games and getting close to his first 100-point season.
“It would be cool, obviously,” Gaudreau said. “It’s something that I try not to focus on too much, but I realize how close I am. That’s not the reason why I’m playing, though, right now. I feel good. I like to be on the ice.”
The Flames’ three-game winning streak ended, and they lost at Honda Center for the 32nd time in their last 33 appearances. Calgary had lost 29 straight games in Orange County since 2006 before a win early last season.
The Flames have won their division for the first time since 2006, but they’ve won just one playoff series since 2004. The Ducks’ run of five straight Pacific titles ended last season, and they’re missing the playoffs this spring for only the third time since 2004.
NOTES: Ducks F Carter Rowney had two assists in his first multi-point game since Jan. 13. ... Lindholm missed his first game of the season, while Monahan sat out for only the third time. Calgary D Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic and Noah Hanifin sat out their second straight games. ... Flames C Sam Bennett sat for the eighth time in 10 games. He took a big hit Monday night in Los Angeles, but isn’t thought to be seriously injured. ... Anaheim D Josh Manson missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury. C Ryan Kesler remained out since March 6 with a career-threatening hip problem.
Flames: Host Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.
Ducks: Host Los Angeles Kings on Friday night.