Koivu Lost in Intense Ducks Win

London Bridge is falling down, My fair Sammi! - Kirk Irwin

To quote Grandma Fiddler: "That was a game tonight! That was a game tonight! That's the kind of hockey you've got to play! Grandma says THAAAAAAAAAAT'S THE KIND OF HOCKEY! GOOD LUCK!" (s/t Puck Podcast)

Final Score: Ducks 4, Blue Jackets 3

Pregame Team Notes: With the injuries to Jakob Silfverberg and Mathieu Perreault, the lineup was shaken up to start.  As expected Teemu drew back in after his rest day in Ottawa for back-to-backs (we need to come up with a term for that, elderly scratch?) and Peter Holland was called up from Norfolk.  Here's what the lines generally looked like to start the game:

First Period Recap: Before anything terribly exciting happened in the game, the first thing I noticed was Teemu chasing down an icing call.  Overall he wasn't a huge force in the game, but thanks to the extra day off in Ottawa on Friday he really seemed to have his legs with him tonight.

The Ducks caught a slight break just past the eight minute mark when Columbus scored, but the goal was waived off due to a clear hand pass.  Cam Atkinson was knocked right on top of a rebound by Bryan Allen, Atkinson shoveled the puck toward Andersen, off his pad and Mark Letestu lifted it over the pile of bodies into the goal.  The play was immediately called off, not reviewable.  Still scoreless.

Columbus would open the scoring, however on an incredibly soft defensive shift from the top line.  Perry did a complete fly by on Ryan Johansen as he entered the zone without question and the Jackets went for a change.  With all five Ducks and only three Blue Jackets in the zone, somehow nobody picked up the trailing Blake Comeau, who fired a point shot through Maroon and Perry (as they nearly collided at the top of the circles) and past Andersen.

A couple minutes later, Francois Beauchemin laid Artem Anisimov out with a beauty of an open ice check.  Strangely this was the only hit NHL.com saw fit to keep a video of, on the game highlights page (more on that later).  The hit drew the ire of Nick Foligno, and he was sent off for roughing.  This gave the Ducks their second power play of the game, as you might notice i didn't mention the previous one.  Despite a Brandon Dubinsky partial breakaway at the start of the two minutes, this was much better than their first opportunity.

Kyle Palmieri was stationed at the left point with Beauch on the right, Bonino centering Teemu and Etem providing a net front presence. Clearly the strategy was to get Etem set up in front and let Palms fire away.  Not a terrible idea, but the best that it produced was a shot off the post.

Second Period Recap: Boudreau or someone must have lit Perry up for his role in the Columbus goal in the dressing room at intermission because he came out in the second, and drove the play every time he touched the ice.

The play started with Maroon forcing the puck around the boards.  Allen held it in at the point, getting it back down to Perry, who it up and made his slick little pass to Getzy right as Maroon and a defender crossed Seregi Bobrovsky's sight line.  Getz's quick shot went five hole on Bob, drawing the Ducks back even only 19 seconds into the period.

Five and a half minutes later, the fourth line got on the board when Peter Holland's sharp angle shot caught Bobrovsky off his post by the smallest of margins.  It was a lucky/soft goal, but gave the Ducks their first lead of the game.  Interesting side note, it was Holland's fifth NHL goal, in 26 career games, and three of the five have now come against Columbus.  I've said all along he does his best while playing against AHL level talent (only kidding, CBJ fans, you're not that bad anymore).

It seemed like that somewhat fluky goal really galvanized the Jackets though.  They immediately came out and dominated possession for the better part of the next five minutes with hardly a whistle.  During that stretch we saw another indication that the days off are doing Teemu a world of good.

At the end of a LONG shift pinned in the zone (second period, long change) the puck came to Teemu and he tried to skate it out on his own.  A Columbus forechecker had the angle on him when he got to his own blueline though, so he turned back -- all the way to the faceoff dot -- and instead of passing it off to a Ducks D-man and going for the change, he held onto it, skated it up to center himself and finally dumped the puck deep in the CBJ end.  43-year-old super human, right there.

It seemed as if the Ducks caught a break, when Jack MF Johnson got his hands up high in Palmieri's face, taking a roughing penalty to defuse the Columbus attack.  However, anyone who has been watching the Ducks this season knows, power plays don't turn the momentum towards us.

Right at the start of the power play, Cam Fowler (pressured by Dubinsky) bobbled a pass from Sami Vatanen and Duby was off to the races with Anisimov.  Cam overplayed Duby -- I assume thinking that Sami or Bonino had Anisimov covered -- but those were the two best Columbus players all night and they connected for a shorty to tie the game at two.

As if that wasn't enough, Ducks started dropping like flies at the end of the period.  Perry got tripped and had to go off the ice for a check up, but made it back in time for the end of the period.  That was a close call, considering how well he had played earlier in the period and what was to come (spoiler alert).

Saku Koivu was not as lucky.  With 40 seconds left in the period he entered the zone through the middle of the ice passed the puck off to Winnik and this happened.  You be the judge:

More on this in a separate post later.

Nothing came from the penalty before the end of the second, but 4:35 of the major penalty carried over onto the fresh ice of the third period.

Third Period Recap: Once again, the power play was best with the second line combination of Teemu, Bonino and Etem up front (this time, Cam and Hampus Lindholm were at the points) and Etem causing a ruckus in front of the net.  It took 1:51 for Lindholm to find Teemu in the high slot, his shot rebounded off Bobrovsky's left pad and Etem gave the Ducks a 3-2 lead.

Before the Dubinsky penalty expired, Etem had two other good chances as well.  The first was a nice deflection that went off the post, and the second was an attempted cross crease pass to Bones which Bobrovsky cut off.  The second might be a slight reach, but had it gone through, Bonino would have had 4x6 to shoot at.

Just shy of the midway point of the period, the Jackets drew even again on an Anisimov tip play in front of the net.  Columbus had solid possession in the zone, worked the puck back to, former Duck great, James Wisniewski at the point for the shot and Anisimov fought off Lindholm to get his stick on it deflecting it past Andersen.  I admire Hampus' effort to keep Anisimov out of the front of the net, but this was just one of those cases where a 19-year-old isn't going to be able to out muscle a five year NHL veteran.

From there on the game got a lot more conservative, with the teams seemingly playing for overtime,  but for a fortunate bounce to Corey Perry.  Getzlaf dumped the puck in from center, Maroon (ever on his horse) pressured Johansen to reverse the play.  The puck bounced off the side of the net, right in front of Bobrovsky to Perry.  He waited, waited, pulled the puck to his forehand, waited, around the diving defenseman, waited for Bob to go down and ROOFED IT.  Classic Perry, 4-3 with under two and a half minutes remaining.

A minute later, Marian Gaborik (first time I've mentioned his name, pretty nice) nearly got around Beauch, and the former Blue Jacket was forced to reach and take a marginal hooking penalty.  Marginal as it may have been, after Columbus went 59.5 minutes without a power play, and the Ducks having five (including a major) you could see this one coming a mile away.

Todd Richards pulled Bobrovsky for the 6-on-4 advantage the rest of the way and Columbus kept the pressure on hard.  The only way to describe the penalty killing of Getzlaf and Fowler (and to a lesser extent Allen and Winnik) is Balls to the wall.  Each of the four Ducks skaters had desperate clearing attempts, but only a couple would actually exit the zone.  By the end of it you could see the captain's scull when he cleared the puck out of the crease with about ten seconds left to effectively seal the victory.

**********

The Good: With this win the Ducks move to 2-2 on the road trip so far, with four games left.  If it wasn't for the injuries, they'd be on their way to salvaging what started out as a terrible trip in Toronto and Montreal.  The remaining games are at Philly (struggling, but won their last two), at Buffalo (worst in the league and just traded their best player to the Islanders) at Boston (tough regardless) and at the Rangers who they shellacked 6-0 just a few weeks ago.

The Bad: It's hard to keep complaining about the power play, in a recap of a game where the Ducks did actually get a goal with the extra man, but it took a five minute major at the beginning of a period, and they went 0 for their other four opportunities.  If they had been clicking on the PP, i wouldn't have to look up so many synonyms for grit, grind, battle, fight, etc. for this recap.  They would have won the game handily.

Oh, they also gave up a shorthanded goal, so despite scoring only their fourth PPG on the season, they still only broke even while on the man advantage today.

The Ugly: Obviously the Dubinsky hit on Koivu was pretty nasty, and losing another top six player at this point could be devastating to the team, not to mention at 38-years-old Koivu's career.

Some good-ish news from Eric Stephens:

Remember, Penner lost consciousness too and could be back in the lineup before returning to Anaheim.  Hopefully this is of a similar severity.

Also via Stephens Re-Tweet, Duby doesn't think he did anything wrong:

It will be interesting to see what Brendan Shanahan has to say, but regardless, I think it's important for Ducks fans to remember that no matter how long or short (or not existent) the suspension is, it has very little value to the Ducks as Columbus is now in the East.

**********

Most Valuable Ducks:

3rd MVD: Emerson Etem - Gotta give it up to the guy who finally scored a power play goal, and came inches away from a second on the same major penalty.

2nd MVD: Ryan Getzlaf - Opened the scoring for the Ducks, and closed out with a Hulkslaf defensive shift to seal the victory.  As goes Ryan Getzlaf so go the Ducks.

1st MVD: Corey Perry - Tough start on the first CBJ goal, but made up for it by a mile with a very strong second and third period and some really slick plays for his goal (game winner) and assist.

Next Game: Sunday, October 29th 4:00pm PT @ Philadelphia

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