30 minutes prior to the game, it was reported that Ryan Getzlaf was not on the ice for warm-ups. A couple minutes later, he was ruled day-to-day with an upper body injury. Sh**. Twitterverse exploded with the lamentations from Ducks fans.
No Getzlaf? Ducks' fan base suffers lower-body injury. Word has it they all received kick to the crotch at approx 4:30, just before game 4.— SK (@SKeleven) April 23, 2014
So the Ducks were off to play a crucial Game 4 without leaders Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne. Oohhh boyyyy...
First Period Recap: After all that occurred in Game 3, this one was set to be a doozy.
Off the face-off, it was clear that the Stars wanted to stick to their game plan of playing with brutal physicality and blistering speed. These would be the theme for the first period. The first noticeably big hit was by Alex Goligoski on Andrew Cogliano, who was practically flipped over.
The first chances came off the Stars' sticks. The speed of the Stars resulted in a 2-on-1 breakaway leaving only Bryan Allen to defend. Right as Duck fans began to despair, he made a great sliding play preventing a centering feed from Valeri Nichushkin. The Stars caught the Ducks on line change that allowed Vernon Fiddler a look at a rebound off Frederik Andersen's pad.
But the first period by no means belonged to the Stars. In fact, the Ducks made some great defensive plays to counteract the Stars' speed. Notably, Ben Lovejoy made some great defensive plays to clear the area in front of his goaltender. In addition, as the period went on, the Ducks' forecheck began to heat up. With Getzlaf and Selanne out of the line-up, there was room for the young 'uns to finally make their 2014 playoff appearance. Dubbed the new "Kid line," Devante Smith-Pelly, Rickard Rakell, and Emerson Etem reunited their Norfolk Admiral line on the Dallas ice. A real good chance occurred when Daniel Winnik took the extra effort to hold the puck in, giving Rakell and DSP a chance with a backdoor pass in front of Kari Lehtonen.
The Ducks had the first man advantage when Nichushkin was called for hooking Cam Fowler. Without Getzlaf at the point, the first bid by the Ducks was a good one. Pat Maroon found Fowler creeping down to the corner, but Fowler couldn't get a quick enough shot off to beat Lehtonen. Francois Beauchemin bombed one from the point through the traffic. Off the face-off, Mathieu Perrault could not settle the Corey Perry's pass for a shot. During this power play, Hampus Lindholm headed off to the locker room after smacking his head on the ice thanks to a bump by Fiddler. Great---Ducks once again played with five defensemen. No wait--four defensemen, Mark Fistric also headed to the locker room shortly after.
But Fowler had it under control. Skating into the zone, he patiently waited along the right side boards, drawing two defensemen towards him. Of all defensemen you would want open at the top of the ice--it would not be Bryan Allen. But alas, it was he who took the open shot and blasted it top corner past Lehtonen. With his first goal in 138 games and his first playoff goal ever, the Ducks took the game's first lead. Lehtonen stood no chance, especially seeing as his own teammate Alex Chiasson blocked his view.
After the Allen goal, the Ducks rolled with the momentum with their relentless forecheck. The Kid Line earned some extra time on the ice with the great energy and ability to get to the loose pucks. Perrault has been good, and he continued to be good in this first period. Beating the Stars from behind the net, he drove to the front of Lehtonen and threw it towards the Stars goaltender. With chaos in front of the net, Patrick Maroon was able to get a stick on it and deflected the puck for a two goal lead.
By the end of the first period, it looked like the Ducks mustered up the will and skill to play without Stephane Robidas, Ryan Getzlaf, and Teemu Selanne for Game 4.
Second Period Recap: While the Ducks got back both Fistric and Lindholm on the bench, all that was good in the first period went out the window for the Ducks. Winning an early neutral zone face-off, Jamie Benn skated to the top of the circle and scored top-shelf. And just like that, the Stars took over the period. It was a good shot, but without a screen, from that far out Andersen has to stop that puck.
The Ducks spent most of their period trying to defend their own end. It was ugly to say the least.
Beating Beauchemin to a loose puck at the Ducks blue line, Shawn Horcoff was left alone to challenge Andersen. Fortunately, Andersen aggressively came out of his net to absorb the puck into his chest. Alex Chiasson was next to make an aggressive bid against the Ducks goaltender with a backhand shot after gathering the rebound from his initial backward-between-the-legs shot. Two very good saves by Andersen, to bounce back from the soft goal earlier.
Tyler Seguin and Nichushkin showed off their speed in an attempt on responding rush after the Ducks failed to convert a 3-on-2 breakaway. Dominating the shots on goal and scoring opportunities, the Stars were bound to score again, and they did. The Stars caught the Ducks on a bad change, resulting in a 5-on-3. From a sharp angle, Andersen allowed Fiddler's wrister to squeeze past his shoulder and the post short side. Just like that, the Stars tied the game.
After taking the timeout, the Ducks attempted to regroup. Kevin Connauton went off for tripping against Kyle Palmieri and the Ducks had a chance to regain the momentum. Early on in the PP, it was Dallas Star Cody Eakin who had the best chance on a shorthanded bid that was stopped last minute by a sliding Perry. Perry soon proceeded to penetrate the middle of the ice, dropping the pass for Perrault. No dice as the puck rang off the post. Palmieri also had another chance as he dug for the rebound in front of Lehtonen, without even knowing it, Lehtonen's skate prevented the Ducks from retaking the lead.
The Stars next received the man advantage with two consecutive power plays. Who else but Ryan Garbutt to sell the interference penalty on Fistric? With the Stars patiently passing the puck along the perimeter and the Ducks failing to clear the zone, the penalty killers stayed on the ice for the majority of the two minutes. Miraculously, no goal was scored. Unfortunately, a frustrated and tired Allen was caught cross checking resident Dallas dick Antoine Roussel. [Ed. Note: Roussel took a massive dive on that, falling down before any contact was made, but still Allen has to be smarter there. -CK] So the Ducks headed back on the ice for a second consecutive penalty kill. While the Stars got front of Andersen, he tracked the puck well and kept it from seeing the back of the net.
Second period's 3-16 SOGs in favor of Dallas gives a thorough picture of how zone possession looked.
**The Dallas Stars had an early period scare when Jamie Benn joined his teammate Patrik Nemeth for the locker room during the early minutes of the second period. Jamie Benn did return however mid-period.
Third Period Recap: The themes of this period were: losing battles along the boards, losing battles behind the net, and getting beat to the loose pucks.
The Ducks had their chances early in the period as they pressed hard to improve on the second period's abysmal performance. Bruce Boudreau rewarded the Kid Line for the effectiveness of their youthful exuberance by allowing them to see more offensive zone time. With his usual vigor, Etem drove behind the net for a wrap around attempt. In another instance, after fighting hard to keep the puck in the zone, Rakell's pass nearly found Etem before being broken by the Stars defense. The Getzlaf-less line of Maroon-Perrault-Perry aggressively crashed the net for rebounds. Unfortunately, none of the blue line shots were hard enough to force rebounds.
Cody Eakin had the period's earliest chance when his shot rang off the far post. Andersen was lucky on that one, but luck ran out. A bad pinch gave the Stars a clean 2-on-1 break. Eakin skated around a diving Rakell and made sure not to hit the post this time around. Not much long after, Horcoff's drive pushed back the Ducks defense. Taking advantage of the collapsing defense, Fiddler found Goligoski through traffic finally putting the dagger on the Ducks' night. The fourth unanswered goal ended Frederik Andersen's night, and lo and behold, the once hailed but long since forgotten Jonas Hiller was back in net.
The last half of the period had both Ducks and Stars in the penalty box as both teams finally lost their cool:
|11:32||DAL||Ryan Garbutt Hi-sticking - 2 min against Kyle Palmieri|
|14:59||ANA||Corey Perry Boarding - 2 min against Cody Eakin|
|17:50||ANA||Corey Perry Fighting (maj) - 5 min against Antoine Roussel|
|17:50||DAL||Antoine Roussel Fighting (maj) - 5 min against Corey Perry|
|17:50||DAL||Vernon Fiddler Misconduct (10 min) - 10 min against Patrick Maroon|
|17:50||ANA||Patrick Maroon Misconduct (10 min) - 10 min against Vernon Fiddler|
|18:53||DAL||Trevor Daley Misconduct (10 min) - 10 min against Kyle Palmieri|
|18:53||ANA||Kyle Palmieri Misconduct (10 min) - 10 min against Trevor Daley|
|20:00||ANA||Mark Fistric Roughing - 2 min against Cody Eakin|
|20:00||ANA||Bryan Allen Roughing - 2 min against Chris Mueller|
|20:00||ANA||Bryan Allen Cross checking - 2 min against Cody Eakin|
|20:00||ANA||Bryan Allen Misconduct (10 min) - 10 min|
|20:00||DAL||Ryan Garbutt Roughing - 2 min against Bryan Allen|
|20:00||DAL||Jordie Benn Roughing - 2 min against Mathieu Perreault|
In the last two minutes, Hiller was pulled for the man advantage. The Stars scored an empty-netter, only to have it called off due to a whistle being blown, as Trevor Daley and Kyle Palmieri were going at it behind the play. Without Getzlaf and Perry, the Ducks stood no chance to capitalize on the man advantage. Besides, by the dying minute of the game, everyone waited expectantly for a line brawl. And there it was.
The Good: The Kid Line has some flashes of brilliance on the forecheck. The Ducks' line-up gave a glimpse of the bright future ahead for the Anaheim club...Emerson Etem, Rickard Rakell, Devante Smith-Pelly and Hampus Lindholm. They do have a couple more years to develop into truly good NHL-ers, especially when it comes to the defensive play. But there were some flashes of brilliance and relentless forecheck that gives Duck fans the butterflies.
The Bad: Rookie Frederik Andersen has not had many bad nights--but unfortunately, this was one of them. Three out of the four goals were extremely soft goals that Andersen should have tracked and absorbed. Not much to explain here. This presents an interesting predicament for Bruce Boudreau...is Andersen's time over? Is it back to Hiller? Is there a remote chance that Gibson makes his NHL playoff debut? I hesitate on the latter, but the next few days should see the rumor mill exploding regarding the situation around the Ducks goaltending.
The Ugly: This one is a two-parter:
1) As the game went on, the Ducks began to deteriorate. I am not necessarily against emotions because I think they can be extremely handy if channeled in the right way. Unfortunately, what may have begun as a noble cause ended up getting out of hand. The Stars were once again successful in getting under the Ducks' skin and in their head. Now the Stars are heading back to the Honda Center with momentum clearly on their side. Anaheim Duck fans--it is up to us to snuff out their hopes and make Honda Center a living hell for the team in white. Well, it is also up to the Ducks to refocus and channel their energy into playing hockey rather than getting revenge.
2) The last minute announcement of listing Captain Ryan Getzlaf as day-to-day is EXTREMELY worrisome. Without him, the Ducks do not have a chance at making a run. The power play was worse than usual with no one to run the point. The Ducks had a much more difficult time on the penalty kill without one of their number one penalty killers. They could have used his leadership to calm down the rampant emotions after a disaster of a second period (assuming that he would have kept his own emotions in check.)
Dishonorable Mention: Ryan Getzlaf--I know you are not at fault for being injured, but man did the Ducks need you tonight. We all hope and pray that this isn't as serious and that you will just come out beast mode Friday night.
3rd Icehole: The entire Ducks team's defensive play 2nd and 3rd period- I have no idea where the Ducks' defensive play went after the first period. The Ducks were on their heels the entire second period. They paid for their passive play.
2nd Icehole: Frederik Andersen- We haven't seen many bad nights from the Great Dane. Unfortunately, this was one of the nights. Andersen should have had the first goal from Jamie Benn as well as the one from the sharp angle by Fiddler. He had an unusually difficult time tracking the shots tonight. And as a rookie, allowing two easy goals in a Game 3 clearly shook his confidence. I do not blame him entirely for the game, but as I mentioned previously, three out of the four should have been easy saves. He did come up big on some of shots off the penalty kill, but at the same time, the Stars did not exactly present huge challenges on the PP.
1st Icehole: Vernon Fiddler/Shawn Horcoff- They were fast, they were mean, and they were all over the place. Both won face-offs, crashed the net, fought for pucks off boards, blocked shots, looked to make passes. Both Stars exploited the Ducks' puck mismanagement by capitalizing on breakaway and rebound chances. The Ducks had a hard enough time containing Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn...opening up gaps for Fiddler and Horcoff. Both Fiddler and Horcoff finished the night with two points (1 goal, 1 assist; 2 assists respectively). If the Ducks hope to be successful Friday night, they need to not only shut down the Seguin-Benn duo, but also suppress the secondary lines of the Stars.
Next Game: Friday, April 25th at 7:30PM PST, back on home ice at the Honda Center. Get your sh** together and bring your A game boys because this one is a MUST-WIN.