ANAHEIM—Even the referees were poking fun at Todd Marchant.
The fourth-line center for the Ducks had gone 61 games without a goal this season, the longest drought among NHL forwards.
Something had to give.
That long-awaited moment finally occurred with just over two minutes remaining in the second period Sunday night against the Colorado Avalanche, a key contribution in the 3-2 victory that ended a five-game losing streak and kept the Ducks on the doorstep of the top eight in the Western Conference standings.
“Hopefully, this can jump start us,” Marchant said. “We have some top teams coming in here the rest of the week.”
Rookie forward Brandon McMillan also scored for the fourth time in the last nine games, breaking a 2-2 with 8:37 remaining in the game and continuing a trend that's vital to any team's playoff run.
“It’s the secondary scoring that’s really come alive,” said Ducks forward Corey Perry, who assisted on a goal by Ryan Getlaf during a feisty first period that saw three fights break out in the first nine minutes.
It just so happens Ducks coach Randy Carlyle has recently asked his supporting cast to step up their contributions during the playoff run. Carlyle said Marchant has responded.
“The last two games Todd Marchant has played for this hockey club have been the two best games he has played this year,” Carlyle said. “That’s what we need.”
Marchant’s scoring play began when he received a pass from Jarrko Ruutu as he built speed through center ice. Marchant passed the puck to Luca Sbisa on his right and Sbisa took a shot that Marchant redirected into the net for a 2-1 lead.
“We were joking we were going to pick up the puck for him,” Carlyle said
Marchant is hardly a newbie when it comes to scoring goals. The 37-year-old native of Buffalo, N.Y. has 186 goals in his 16-year career, including 20 in 2002-03 as a member of the Oilers.
But he has settled into a fourth-line checking role in the latter stages of his career, one that he does smoothly and effectively.
Still, he didn’t expect to go this long without his first goal of the season.
“My son scored a goal the other day in his game and says, ‘Now it’s your turn dad,’ “ Marchant said. “Everybody has been very supportive. Every guy in this locker room was pretty happy for me.”
That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some kidding along the way.
“A lot of guys are having fun and poking fun at me and even the linesmen are having fun with me,” he said. “But you what, I’ll take the ribbing to get that first one out of the way.”