Final Score: Ducks 5, Coyotes 3
First Period Recap: It’s been a while since the Ducks have talked about something other than starting off well in the first period. Well, they finally stopped talking and did something about it.
From the opening puck drop, the Ducks tested the back-up netminder Thomas Greiss early on with the forecheck pressure. The Ducks had a few of chances to net the first goal including a nice feed from Corey Perry to Dustin Penner in front of the net and a point blank shot from Kyle Palmieri from Matt Beleskey winning puck battles against the board...but Griess stood tall and turned away each chance for the Ducks to put up the first goal.
Despite the strong showing by the Ducks, it would be the Coyotes to strike first. As he skated across through the neutral zone, Oliver Ekman-Larsson looked up to see Martin Hanzal open for a pass. Hanzal in turn got the puck to Lauri Korpikoski who was stopped by Jonas Hiller on his first attempt but scored the rebound. Despite the strong showing in the first period, the Ducks found themselves trailing by one.
Sami Vatanen paid the price for the Ducks’ turnover, which nearly resulted in a 2-on-1 rush by taking the game’s penalty. The penalty kill was largely unexciting with the Coyotes taking only one shot on goal by the end of the man-advantage.
After the successful PK, the blood started really pumping into the Ducks’ legs. The Coyotes were up by one and so the PPG line began to pressure the offensive line. The all-around effort finally paid off when the Palmieri nicely evaded the Coyotes skating across the blue line, dropping the pass for a Nick Bonino shot. Greiss made the initial save but Hampus Lindholm was there to put away the floating rebound.
The Ducks were given an additional chance to come out of the period one goal ahead when Rostislav Klesla was called for hooking. But to call this a power play would be too generous. For the first 40 seconds of the PP, the Ducks chased the puck around as the Coyotes retained dominant possession of the puck. The Ducks were unable to set up, let alone break out into the offensive zone. Oh, but it doesn’t end there. To make things worse, Lindholm took a roughing penalty.
The crappy PP definitely took the momentum out of the Ducks as the Coyotes held the puck in the defensive for the majority of the time. The Coyotes power play was killed, but not without great effort by some exhausted Ducks. During one of the prolonged clearing attempts, Mark Fistric took a puck to the leg while blocking a shot. After looking up at the remaining minutes on the first period, he exited early to the locker room.
The first period ended with Anaheim having a slight advantage with shots on goal (15) to Phoenix (12).
Second Period Recap: Really, there must be something to second periods that get the Ducks flying....
It was back to square one with the Ducks and the Coyotes tied at 1-1. But this time, the period saw the Coyotes come in with ferocious pressure keeping Hiller alert. The foes had the period's first PP when Cam Fowler decided to take a hooking penalty in an attempt to prevent Radim Vrbata from scoring on a breakaway. Despite the Coyotes spending much time in the Ducks' defensive zone, there was no shot on goal.
The Ducks' second goal would come from the blue line. Jacob Silfverberg brought the puck down the left side and passed it to an open Mathieu Perreault parked in the middle of the offensive zone. He fanned the shot but Vatanen was present on the corner of the blue line to receive the pass and blast it. The puck just trickled through Greiss and made it to the back of the net.
As usual, the goal pumped up the Ducks and the Coyotes just couldn't keep up with Anaheim's four rolling lines. The Beleskey-Bonino-Palmieri line did a great job forechecking and putting shots on goal. Perrault, Maroon and Silfverberg won board battles and kept the puck alive in their offensive zone. By the time PPG inherited puck possession from Perrault's line, the Coyotes were scrambling. Perry retrieved the puck from behind the net and found Penner to rocket it the puck right past Greiss.
Penner was reinserted into the line-up after being scratched several games with an elbow injury and boy did he make a statement in tonight's game. After hustling to keep the puck in the zone from Perry's forecheck, Penner swept a pass to Getzlaf who patiently dangled and promptly backhanded the puck past Greiss. The gorgeous play would be the last Greiss would see as the Ducks chased yet another goaltender out of his net.
The last of the PPG, Corey Perry nearly had his goal when Penner flipped the puck to him down the ice. Mike Smith, who we all know loves to handle the puck, came out of the net to play the puck only to be beaten by Perry. Perry was about to make it a four goal lead from a narrow angle, only to get STONEd.
The Coyotes stole that one away from Perry.
Phoenix also had a few chances throughout the period. Ekman-Larsson nearly had a chance off a Ducks' turnover but Hiller was ready to glove that one. Another came at the end of a Ducks power play opportunity. As Vermette exited out of the penalty box, he received a perfect feed for a 1-on-1 chance against Hiller. But his shot went off the crossbar.
The Ducks' relentless pressure in the second period allowed the Ducks to retake the lead 4-1 by it's closing.
Third Period Recap: At the start of the third, Getzalf was noticeably absent from the bench after leaving during the second period.
Trailing by three, the Coyotes continued to show aggression while the Ducks seemed content to play the remainder of the game defensively. The Ducks were granted another power play opportunity when Rob Klinkhammer went off to the sin bin for hooking Penner. Remember Maroon's pretty no-look blackdoor pass to Selanne last game on the power play? Well, he pulled a similar move today when he waited and made a backhanded pass around Derrek Morris to Lindholm who inserted the puck into past Smith. Immediately the ref waved the goal off, since the puck seemed to have hit the crossbar, but after a brief conversation with Toronto, the goal was ruled good. Hooters anyone?
After this point, we all looked at the clock, only to see there was still nearly thirteen minutes left.
Just to add some more excitement to the game, Maroon and Klesla dropped gloves after Maroon took exception to a hit on Perrault. It was fairly even but Maroon did end up falling on his elbow at the end after he had thrown off his elbow pads earlier in the fight. Hopefully it was only a slight bump or bruise.
With a four goal advantage, the Ducks were content to simply playing defense. But the Coyotes jumped on a power play chance when Lindholm took a high-sticking penalty after holding out his stick to defend himself from Jeff Halpern's hit. The situation was further complicated when Koivu joined Lindholm 30 seconds into the PK for tripping Shane Doan. The Coyotes had a two man-advantage for 1:30. The PK was fraught with dangerous chances for the Coyotes, especially when at one point both Bonino and Hiller were without their sticks. Despite all the Ducks recovering their sticks, the lamp was lit when the puck was redirected off Hanzal's foot from Vrbata's feed. The goal was ruled good since there was no forward kicking motion. The remaining minute of PK was again filled with broken sticks as Lovejoy's stick broke. But with Hiller's stops, the Ducks only gave up one goal during the PK.
With a little less than two minutes left, the Coyotes' forechecking paid off and Ribeiro scored off of Vrbata's rebound. A careless clearing attempt by Fowler down the middle of the ice resulted in the turnover to Vrbata. The Coyotes cut the lead to two with a little less than two minutes left in the game. At this time, we got to see the Bruce Boudreau we all know and love as he took a time-out to scold (to put it mildly) and drop some f-bombs, I'm sure, on the lazy play of Cam Fowler and the rest of the Ducks.
Despite the decent start, and the hot second period, third period ended with some anxiety as the Ducks were called once again for high-sticking, this time on Bonino. Funny thing though, the replay showed that while he tapped Hanzal's helmet, Hanzal also had a pretty blatant high-stick on Bonino. Despite the empty net and the 6-on-4 power play, the Ducks were able to use their last efforts to come out with their 16th win in 17 games, and sweep the series against the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Good: The entire second period. There must be something up with the Ducks and the second period because this period is usually the time when the Ducks come out and play "their game" and score lots of goals. They not only created dominant forechecking pressure, but defensively, they also got in the lanes and blocked shots. In one period, they scored three goals within a span of 5:11 from Sami Vatanen, Dustin Penner, and Ryan Getzalf. The latter giving us this beauty. Honestly...how gorgeous is the set up and that shot?
How can that be anything but GOOD?
The Bad: Captain Ryan Getzlaf left the ice during the second period and did not return to the game due to a lower-body injury. The injury is most likely a result of one of two blocked shots. He had taken a puck to the foot and as he was attempting to skate to the bench, he blocked another pass. With some big games coming up this week, it does not bode well for the Ducks to be without their Star captain Getzlaf. Remember when we didn't have him during that stint through the Sunshine State that resulted in losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes? He and Perry have been the two big X-factors to the Ducks' success. So let's hope that he left as a precautionary measure.
The Ugly: I'm debating between the horrendous first period power play and the lazy defensive play seen in the closing minutes of the third.
The first period power play was just downright ugly. The Coyotes looked like they had the man-advantage and had more chances to score than the team with the real man-advantage. To make things worse, the Ducks took an additional penalty, which threw them into a penalty kill situation. That was just ugly.
The game didn't end all too well in my opinion. While the Ducks earned a tremendous lead after Lindholm's second goal, the third period was fraught with some lazy play that resulted in the two goals by the Coyotes. If the Ducks expect to be considered serious contenders this year, they need to get used to playing the full 60 minutes...not just the first 40 or the last 40.
Next Game: Sunday, Jan. 12th, 5:00 PM PST vs. Detroit Red Wings back for more home dominance at the Honda Center