Final Score: Ducks 4, Canucks 3 (OT)
First Period Recap: Old habits die hard, I guess. The Ducks came out of the gate slow (yet again) and Vancouver responded by constantly flying around Jonas Hiller's side of the ice. Corey Perry took a tripping penalty off a faceoff in the offensive zone to send the Canucks to the power play. Not exactly the most ideal situation considering the tempo of the game up to this point. The Vancouver man advantage couldn't get set up until about halfway through Perry's penalty, but as soon as it did, Thing 1 and Thing 2 (formally known as the Sedin twins) found their linemate Ryan Kesler at the top of the right faceoff circle, and he smoked a one-timer past Hiller's glove side. The Canucks had been dominating the entire game, and now the scoreboard finally showed it. 1-0 visitors.
Just as soon as you'd think that this game got off to such a poor start that it could only go up from there, it dug a hole and continued downward.
Less than a minute after the first goal of the game, Anaheim must have forgotten for a second that each team is only allowed five skaters on the ice during even-strength situations, and they were called for a too many men on the ice penalty. During the second penalty kill of the night, Henrik Sedin wound up from the blue line and ripped it past Hiller. Vancouver's 23rd-ranked power play was now 2-for-2 on the night, and the home team found themselves down a pair just a little over halfway through the first period.
In an effort to get some energy flowing through the bench, Kyle Palmieri decided to try something relatively foreign to him by dropping the gloves with Brad Richardson. While the fight was pretty even, I personally believe Palmieri had the upper hand. Maybe it's because I'm a little biased. Maybe. It must have worked though, because other than giving the fans at Honda Center something to get excited about for the first time tonight, the Ducks finally began to buzz around the Vancouver zone and generate some chances. The final seconds featured a scrum in front of Eddie Lack that got the collective blood pressure of the building rising a little bit, but Lack and the Vancouver defense stood tall. The Ducks headed to the locker room with a 2-0 deficit (that could've easily been 3 or 4-0) and a meeting with one pissed off Coach Boudreau.
Second Period Recap: I have absolutely no idea what Bruce said during the intermission, but the Ducks turned a complete 180 in a REAL quick fashion. Right off the opening faceoff, Anaheim had an extra spring in their step, and it paid off just 24 seconds into the period. While applying pressure behind the Vancouver net, Andrew Cogliano found Jakob Silfverberg wide open in the slot, who unleashed a cannon that Saku Koivu got just enough of his stick on to aid the puck under Lack's right armpit. 2-1 Vancouver and a very different game.
A few minutes later, Super Swede Hampus Lindholm began to break out behind his net when he was approached from front and back by Zack Kassian and Tom Sestito. Thinking fast, Lindholm ducked and escaped the sandwich, while the two Canucks collided. On his way down to the ice, Sestito's skate flew up and Kassian took a shot from the boot. He was down on the ice for a few minutes before being helped up and to the Vancouver bench.
The Ducks continued to pour on the pressure, warranting lots of cheers and 'aw's from the crowd. The closest that they got to tying the game was off the stick of Tim Jackman, who found himself right on top of the crease receiving a pass from behind the net, but his one-timer was swallowed by Lack. During another one of many very strong possession that generated a few solid scoring chances, Perry was cross checked by Kevin Bieksa, allowing the men in black to build on their tremendous momentum for another two minutes.
The power play gave Lack all he could handle, but an offside call in the waning seconds essentially neutralized the man advantage. At this point in the period, Anaheim outshot Vancouver 15-0. Later, while charging to the net, Palmieri was ran into Eddie Lack, rattling the Vancouver netminder and likely making John Tortorella sweat with the fact that he might have to put in [former Anaheim] emergency goalie Rob Laurie. Lack shook it off, however, and continued to play.
The Ducks would tie the game on an incredibly beautiful breakout. Following a blocked shot, Palmieri carried the puck down the left wing and sauced a pass to the slot that couldn't have been any more perfect to a streaking Matt Beleskey. He got his stick on the puck for a redirect past Lack as a newly fired up Honda Center roared their approval.
Coming out from behind his net at the tail end of the second, Francois Beauchemin was tripped up by Sestito and gave the puck away to a Canuck in the slot. This would have resulted in easily the best scoring chance that Vancouver had all period if the zebras didn't blow the whistle on the play and send Sestito to the box. Anaheim went back on the power play with the likelihood that they would head to the locker room after a full 20 minutes of dominance. Similar to the first PP of the night, the Ducks had their fair share of chances, including one that saw Lack flailing on his side, but he would eventually corral the puck.
The Ducks finished the middle stanza with two goals and 43 seconds remaining on their power play. The final shot count for the period saw Anaheim put TEN TIMES more pucks on net than Vancouver by a 20-2 margin.
Sometime in the period, Dan Winnik was asked in an on-bench interview what the difference was between the Ducks' play in the first and the second. He replied with, "Urgency. We didn't have it and it's been a problem for us in the first." You don't say, Dan!
Third Period Recap: This period began somewhere in the middle of the first and the second. For the first time all night, the teams looked evenly matched. This didn't last long, as almost immediately after killing Anaheim's second power play of the night, Vancouver found themselves cycling the puck in the Ducks' zone. Kevin Bieksa put a shot on net from the blue line, and thanks in part to a screen on Hiller, the puck found its way past Hiller's blocker side, and just like that, the 'Nucks were back on top.
37 seconds later, Nick Bonino took a trip to the box for slashing Dan Hamhuis. Fortunately, aside from a couple breath-holding moments, the Ducks turned in their first successful kill of the night, cutting the Vancouver power play conversion rate to 67% (66.67% for you sticklers). After resuming play at 5-on-5, the home team responded a lot quicker than they did in the earlier stages of the game.
The top two lines were swarming the net constantly while they were on the ice, and midway through the period, the Ducks kept the puck almost exclusively in the Vancouver zone for about four minutes. How they didn't get a shot by Lack absolutely baffles me. That point in time bore a striking resemblance to a well-functioning power play resulting from a double minor, except I wish our power play was actually that intense more often. After a few pipes hit and a few fans, the score remained 3-2 with the lingering feeling that the tying goal was looming.
The rest of the period involved a lot of Duck puck possession, a handful of Vancouver icings, and too many saves from Eddie Lack. Finally, with time running thin, Winnik threw the puck across the ice to Nick Bonino, who put the biscuit in the oven for the long-overdue game-tying goal. Barring any heartbreaking events in the following 90 seconds, the Ducks would keep their unbeaten in regulation streak alive in Anaheim.
Said event almost occurred with 10 seconds remaining in regulation when Mike Santorelli found himself with the puck in the slot. With the way Hiller reacted, it looked like he wasn't expecting a shot, but he turned it aside regardless to give all 17,174 fans in attendance some free hockey. [Ed. Note: Not surprising, considering Santorelli missed a WIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDE open net in the first five minutes of the game. -CK]
Overtime Recap: The first half of OT was, by far, the most balanced hockey played between these two teams all night, with a slight edge to Vancouver. The best chance of the five minutes, though, came from Nick Bonino when he stripped Bieksa of the puck at his blue line, and put a nifty deke on Lack. As the rest of the game showed, though, the Vancouver netminder was up to the task, but even though he bailed out Bieksa, he couldn't save him from a trip to the sin bin for hooking Bonino.
The power play was just as lively as it was in its last two outings, but unfortunately, its effectiveness against Lack was the same as well. The Canucks cleared the zone with five seconds left in overtime, and Bonino corralled the puck at center ice to give the Ducks one last chance, but as we all know, these are usually efforts of desperation that hardly ever pay off for anyonOH MY GOD COREY PERRY!!!!
Receiving Bonino's pass at the blue line, Getzlaf found Perry sneaking behind the Vancouver defense, and since #10 knew the horn would sound in literally a second, he put a wrister on net from the right faceoff circle that happened to beat Lack five-hole for the dramatic game-winner with 0.6 seconds left on the clock. The birthday boy finished the night with a career-high 45 saves, and if it wasn't for him, the Ducks would have ran away with this game in a very brutal way.
The Good: Sweet sassy the second was beautiful. It was the Lacey Chabert of periods, and off the Xbox, there was probably no better way that Anaheim could have possibly responded from that dumpster fire of the first stanza.
The Bad: Despite the fact that the game-winner was scored on a 4-on-3 advantage, the special teams didn't get it done as well as they should have tonight. The penalty kill and the power play were both 1 for 3. Granted, 33% is a very good power play, and they were producing a handful of chances, but it seemed like the team was more dangerous at even strength.
The Ugly: Those slow starts in the first period need to stop and they need to stop soon. If it wasn't for that dramatic recovery that the Ducks made during the first intermission, Vancouver very well could have run away with this game. Hockey games = 60 minutes (or 65 in cases like tonight).
3rd MVD: Kyle Palmieri. His assist to Beleskey was gorgeous, and the two almost connected for a second goal in the third. He had a few good chances of his own to dent the net as well.
2nd MVD: Corey Perry. He was one of a few guys on the Ducks roster who just couldn't get by Lack for the first 64:59, but he couldn't have picked a better time to break through. He and his linemates on the big dog line completely overwhelmed the Vancouver defense tonight, and it's surprising that he, Getzy, and even Penner didn't show up on the score sheet more often.
1st MVD: Nick Bonino. Bones made his presence felt in a huge way in the last six minutes of the game with the game-tying goal and the play that drew the man advantage that would ultimately sink the 'Nucks. Someone had their bowl of Cap'n Clutch for breakfast this morning.
Next Game: Tuesday, January 7th vs. the Boston Bruins