Before the game the Ducks honored the Olympians for both teams by announcing each by name and having them skate to center ice to a young hockey player holding their nation's flag. The best part was Andrej Sekera not being able to tell the difference between the Slovakian and Russian flag as they have the same red, white and blue stripes and the Slovakian shield was hidden in the wrinkles of the flag. Also Teemu got a huge ovation, which is always nice, if entirely expected.
First Period Summary: For the second game in a row I was a bit surprised as to the starting goaltender Bruce Boudreau decided to go with, but even after a shutout by Jonas Hiller this was one of the last opportunities for Frederik Andersen to get some time in with the Ducks before Viktor Fasth comes back from his AHL conditioning stint. So Freddy it was, and he looked a little shaky in the early going but Luca Sbisa and Cam Fowler allowing Eric Staal to the top of the crease didn't help much on Carolina's first two chances of the game.
Fowler took a hooking penalty leading up to the latter of those chances. The Ducks killed it and just as it expired, Corey Perry was left all alone in front of Cam Ward, but missed the net when Ryan Getzlaf found him from behind the goal line. Perry made up for it later in the shift, Dustin Penner faked a shot from the high slot and passed it to Perry parked at the side of the net for a slam dunk goal to get things started at 6:39 of the first.
The period as a whole was played pretty evenly with Carolina getting some solid zone time, but the Ducks doing better off of the rush. Perry made a nifty little move about halfway through the period dangling between two D-men who were about two feet apart, trying to cover him. Nothing really came of it, but it seemed like an indication of the Carolina D not being at its sharpest and just generally allowing the Ducks to do what they wanted offensively.
By the middle of the period the puck wouldn't sit down for anyone but didn't stop Francois Beauchemin from bombing one through traffic and through Ward to make it 2-0.
The line of Andrew Cogliano, Saku Koivu and Daniel Winnik was right up there with the PPG line in terms of offensive chances in the first. Led mostly by the speed of Cogliano they were able to establish zone time on a number of occasions and if it weren't for Eric Staal making a couple of really nice stick checks they could have had four or five Grade A scoring chances. But the fact that they were forcing Staal to play so much defense, regardless of how well, was a very good sign.
Just as I was making a note that the Cogliano and Getzlaf lines were the only ones creating offensively, the newly assembled combo of Teemu Selanne and Matt Beleskey with Jacob Sifverberg at center (for an injured Mathieu Perreault) spent over a full minute in the Carolina zone.
Once the Canes finally got a hold of the puck and that line changed, the PPG line came out and Perry put the Ducks up 3-0. Ron Hinsey's outlet pass missed Eric Staal and Fowler intercepted right at center ice, making a beautiful backhand pass to send Perry and Getzlaff on a two on one. Perry looked Getzy off and shot high glove for his second of the night.
Right at the end if the period Eric Staal showed some of his frustration by boarding Cogs. His brother Jordan Staal had the best chance during the first part of the Ducks' PP, driving the net and had Nathan Gerbe behind Andersen but the Danish goalie had settled down since the early part of the period and absorbed the puck with no rebound. So the period ended 3-0 to the Ducks with shots favoring Anaheim 13-12 and a carry over penalty of 1:19.
Second Period Summary: The remainder of the power play was much better for the Ducks, as Teemu had a shot from right in the slot and a redirection on net from the middle of the ice which Perry nearly jammed the rebound under Ward's pad for the hat trick, but no dice.
Just under three minutes into the period, Nick Bonino was called for hooking Jeff Skinner, but no worries, as Winnik hit the crossbar and then on the next rush up ice Cogliano scored shorthanded to make it 4-0. Koivu made a brilliant stick play at the Ducks' blue line to knock the puck off of Jiri Tlusty's stick right to Cogs who went in one on one against Jay Harrison. Harrison gave him the shot and he took it, five hole goal. At this point I was somewhat surprised Kirk Muller didn't pull Cam Ward, but he stuck with his starter.
Tuomo Ruutu and Jeff Skinner played a really slick game of give and go for a point blank shot by Ruutu, that Anderson saved. Koivu then went the other way and drove right into Ward's crease, and took a goalie interference penalty. The Ducks had another great shorthanded chance with Bonino and Cogs on a 2-on-1, but this time Ward closed the five hole in time.
Carolina then was called for too many men on the ice to negate the rest of their power play. Twelve seconds later the puck bounced onto the back of the net and Silf calmly plucked it off and beat Ward to the post on the backhand for a 5-0 Ducks lead.
The 'Canes got one back before the end of the period on an incredible individual effort by Sekera. He was being hounded all over the zone by Patrick Maroon, but guarded the puck with his life and eventually worked his way to the front of the net before shoveling it through Andersen. Originally the goal was announced as unassisted, but later two assists were added but in my book that was about as unassested as it gets.
After the goal Carolina showed some more life as the Ducks eased off the gas a bit. The Canes started passing right through the Ducks all over the place leading to eventually leading to a Silfverberg hooking penalty.
There were a couple of scary passes across the crease on the power play (one by Beauch) but Carolina was actually more dangerous between the end of the PP and the end if the period, scrambling around the crease. Andersen had to check behind himself but nothing got through. Even though the shots were even at 26 the Ducks could put it in cruise control the rest of the way with a 5-1 lead, and so they did.
Third Period Recap: This entire period can be filed under S for Score Effect. Not only were the Ducks content to sit back on their lead, Corey Perry was not even going to try for the hat trick unless he could do some fancy schmancy dangling first.
About seven and a half minutes in, Maroon and Brett Bellemore dropped the mitts. Bellemore got a few good shots in early, but Maroon fought back and ended up on top, so I'd give it a draw, and minus points to each of them for sizing each other up for about 16 minutes before actually getting to it.
A few minutes after the fight, Andersen stopped a point blank chance from Gerbe which gave Carolina a real spark for an extended shift of possession in the Ducks' zone, culminating in Patrick Dwyer scoring off of a rebound from a John Michael Liles post shot.
The rest of the period was just more of the Ducks sitting back and waiting for the game to end, except for an Alexander Semin breakaway goal with just over a minute left in the game. Perry had the puck to the right of Ward for what felt like 45 minutes before he had a shot blocked out to Hampus Lindholm. Semin accidentally (I assume since he's Russian, kidding of course) blocked Hampus' shot and went in alone on Andersen for the high glove side snipe.
Despite 26 third period shots from Carolina, the outcome was never in doubt during the last 20 minutes.
The Good: It was one of those nights were everything went the Ducks' way for the first two periods. Three of the four lines had spells of absolute dominance and contributed on the score sheet. Just a nice comfortable win over a non conference foe. Here's to more of that with the next three visitors to Honda Center being Eastern Conference teams that the Ducks have already lost to this season (Montreal, Pittsburgh and Toronto).
The Bad: This wasn't as dominant a performance as the 5-0 lead the Ducks jumped out to would suggest. In fact within the first five minutes or so, it could have just as easily been 2-0 Carolina. I guess we'll just say Puck Luck is a two sided coin.
The Ugly: It doesn't matter if you're up 5-1 or 10-1, sitting back enough to give up 26 shots in a period is never a good thing. The rest of this regular season is supposed to be an exercise in staying hungry and in form for the playoffs, and the third period of this game was a giant middle finger in the face of that concept.
3rd MVD: Frederik Andersen - I don't really want to put him up here, because it wasn't the prettiest performance, and he did give up three goals, but it's hard not to when you look at the box score and see 49 saves. For the record, Cam and Beauch were the official number two and three stars.
2nd MVD: Andrew Cogliano - He was dangerous all night with his speed and set up his linemates for some impressive shifts in the first 40 minutes. Also scored a goal, his 19th of the season, to set a new career high, besting the 18 he tallied in his first two NHL seasons, it happened to be shorthanded as well.
1st MVD: Corey Perry - With two goals and an assist, Perry had this honor locked up before the first period was over, even if he put his fancy pants on for the rest of the game and couldn't complete the hat trick.
Next Game: Wednesday, March 5 at 7:00 PM PST, vs. the Montreal Canadiens