Ducks Hold Off Flames, Win 5-4

Mike Ridewood

The Ducks win it thanks to Winnik?!


Final Score: Ducks 5, Flames 4

First Period Recap: The puck drops and immediately everything seems chaotic. I'm not sure if the Ducks were all over the place, or if Calgary was, but the Ducks definitely benefited from it. Hustle and speed from an unexpected source in Ryan Getzlaf as he quickly notched Anaheim's first goal with a beautiful tip off a Toni Lydman shot. A few minutes later, Saku Koivu added to the lead with a great play set up by the third line; one that is most definitely working well together. Just before the 11:00 mark, the unlikely team leading goal scorer Daniel Winnik gives the Ducks a 3-0 lead.

And then the Ducks wished the game ended there. Calgary's persistence exposed the Ducks fantastic inability to kill penalties and their tendency to portray complete laziness. Two late goals from the Flames and they went into the locker room with Mr. Momentum on their side.

Second Period Recap: The Ducks started the period down a man and continued their show of awful penalty killing, letting Calgary tie the game at three. The second period was all Calgary. They won battles, they drew penalties, and they out shot the Ducks 14-3! The momentum changer of scoring late in the first period and early in the second period definitely shifted the game in Calgary's direction, and they took advantage.

To mix things up, late in the period, Coach Boudreau switched up the lines as Matt Beleskey found himself replacing Kyle Palmieri on the first line. The only unfortunate thing about this is losing the effectiveness of having Beleksey play alongside youngsters Rickard Rakell and Devante Smith-Pelly.

Third Period Recap: Thankfully the Ducks recovered, albeit slowly, in the third. Either their ears were ringing from a hearty lecture from Coach, or they remembered that they were playing a team who was on it's second night of back-to-back games. Somehow, the Ducks miracle worker has come in the name of Winnik. I don't think ANYONE expected this guy to be the Ducks leading goal scorer after two games [Ed. Note: or ever. -CK]. Thankfully the Ducks are seeing some positives in some of their line combinations, but it's definitely not in the second line of Bobby Ryan, Nick Bonino and Teemu Selanne. Getzlaf regained the Ducks' two goal lead, which they needed, as Calgary scored one more time but couldn't get into overtime.

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The Good: Plain and simple, they figured out how to win this game. Despite the absolutely dreadful late first and ENTIRE second period, the Ducks pulled through in the third and showed some fight. So many times in the past we've seen the Ducks just rollover and play dead after forgetting how to be hockey players during the middle twenty, but not this time. Hopefully, the willingness to "fight" is an ongoing trend in 2013.

The Bad: The defense is still in major need of work. I'm not sure if it's the pairings that are off, or what, but they aren't working together just yet. If anything, the positive to take from this is that after being ridiculously out shot in the second, the Ducks did the shooting in the third and kept the Flames to only six SOG. What does this mean? The Ducks have to play with the puck to protect a weak defense.

The Ugly: Special teams. Vomit. The penalty kill is basically a guaranteed goal against and the power play, while awesome in Vancouver, was pretty awful in Calgary. The Ducks really need to get this figured out here in the next few days. If they're going to continue to take stupid penalties, they'd better work on being a team that can kill them effectively.

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Most Valuable Ducks:

1st MVD - Saku Koivu - Yea, the Ducks had two goals thanks to Daniel Winnik - and believe me, he was definitely the obvious star of the night especially after his huge game changer in the 3rd, but a lot of credit goes to that entire third line, and more specifically, Koivu. He was 10-14 (71%) in the face-off circle and is a key component and anchor for that third line. He's always one of those guys that gives 100% and when he's working, the team is working.

2nd MVD - Ryan Getzlaf - Speaking of a solid face-off circle, Getzlaf went 15-23 (65%) on the dot. It's not great, but for Getzlaf, it's a HUGE improvement! Not to mention, he opens the Ducks' scoring and eventually nets the game winner. If Getzlaf can keep up the obvious hustle and motivation we're currently seeing from him on the ice, this might be one of the best seasons we've seen from the center in a long time.

3rd MVD - I'm breaking the rules and picking fourth line of Matt Beleskey, Devante Smith-Pelly, Rickard Rakell - I particularly enjoy this line. It reminds me a lot of the checking line back in the day, and I miss that. I don't know if it was intentional, but there were plenty of times tonight that a solid shift from these three turned a bit of the momentum in the game for the Ducks. Just like we expected from the trio of Rob Niedermayer, Travis Moen and Samuel Phalsson, if these guys can simply play with the puck in the offensive end and hopefully find the back of the net from time to time, the Ducks are one lucky squad.

Next Game: Friday, January 25, 2013, 7pm vs. Vancouver at Honda Center. The Ducks home opener!

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