ANAHEIM, Calif. â€” Cam Fowler crumpled immediately after Mark Giordano’s knee-to-knee hit, and he couldn’t leave the ice under his own power.
Although the Anaheim Ducks moved significantly closer to a fifth straight Pacific Division title Tuesday night, post-season success seems farther away without their All-Star defenceman.
Patrick Eaves scored his eighth goal in nine games and John Gibson made 26 saves in the Ducks’ 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames, pushing Anaheim’s division lead to four points.
Kevin Bieksa ended his 47-game goal drought and Chris Wagner also scored as the Ducks recorded their 25th consecutive home regular-season victory over the Flames since Jan. 19, 2004, extending the longest such streak in NHL history.
Honda Center fans serenaded the Flames with a loud chant of “You can’t win here!” in the closing seconds, but it only happened after a fight-filled third period precipitated by Fowler’s game-ending injury from a hit by Calgary’s captain.
“I think our legs collided,” Giordano said. “I hope he’s OK. You don’t like to see guys get hurt. There was no intent to hurt him there.”
The Ducks vehemently disagreed, although they made their feelings known with their fists. The hit set off a combative final period featuring 106 combined penalty minutes.
“You saw our reaction,” Bieksa said. “Obviously we weren’t happy with the hit. He’s one of our best players. … We’re a team that sticks up for each other. We’re a physical team. We care about each other, and we care about Cam. We don’t want to see a teammate on the ice and getting helped off.”
Video appeared to show Giordano extending his leg and hitting the U.S. Olympian’s right knee well after he had shot the puck. Giordano wasn’t penalized on the play, but in the ensuing moments, Wagner scored his goal and Josh Manson battered Giordano in a one-sided fight.
“I think there’s a lot of hate there,” said Manson, who was named the game’s first star. “Our guys had to do something. Hockey is a fast game, and things happen. It’s unfortunate. Hopefully Cam is all right, but it’s tough.”
The Flames had a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage while Anaheim had five players in the box midway through the period, but couldn’t capitalize.
Mikael Backlund scored for Calgary, which has lost three of four.
The Ducks topped 100 points for the fourth consecutive season and moved four points ahead of the second-place Edmonton Oilers, who lost 6-4 at Los Angeles. Anaheim can wrap up another banner and the Pacific’s top seed with two season-ending home wins over Chicago and Los Angeles.
Anaheim has earned points in 12 consecutive games down the stretch, moving closer to a possible first-round matchup with the wild-card Flames. The Ducks won back-to-back games over Calgary over the past three days.
“I think there’s lots of things we can build on if this is our opponent come playoff time,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. “I wasn’t unhappy with the game. I liked the way we stuck together in the third. We didn’t get the win, but there are some positive things from this game we’ll take.”
Flames goalie Brian Elliott made 16 saves after replacing Chad Johnson just 5:19 into the first period. The Flames’ backup goalie left his first appearance since March 23 with an unspecified lower-body injury after stretching to make a pad save.
Gulutzan said Johnson will head back to Calgary for treatment while the Flames finish the regular season with two more road games in California, but the team is “optimistic” about Johnson’s prospects for the post-season.
Calgary hasn’t won at Honda Center in the regular season since Darryl Sutter’s Flames beat Mike Babcock’s Ducks over 13 years ago. Anaheim’s 25 straight victories over Calgary represent the longest winning streak in one arena against one opponent in NHL history.
NOTES: Calgary All-Star Johnny Gaudreau’s eight-game points streak ended. … The Ducks also played without key defencemen Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen, both out with upper-body injuries. With Fowler injured and Korbinian Holzer in the penalty box along with Manson during one third-period stretch, the Ducks were down to three defencemenâ€” and Getzlaf played about 30 seconds on the blue line. … Gibson was solid in just his third appearance since Feb. 20 due to a nagging lower-body injury. … Calgary earned a playoff victory in Anaheim back in 2006 during the regular-season skid.
Flames: At Kings on Thursday.
Ducks: Host Blackhawks on Thursday.
Greg Beacham, The Associated Press