Final Score: Ducks 3 - Flames 4 (SO)
Chart courtesy www.war-on-ice.com
For much of the first two periods the Ducks controlled play, doing an excellent job at suppressing shots on net by Calgary and getting extended spells of possession in the Flames zone. The first Anaheim player to test former goalie Jonas Hiller was Corey Perry, who had a shot from the bottom of the near circle kicked aside with the left pad. A few moments later former Flame Tim Jackman decided to drop the gloves while forechecking defenseman Deryk Engelland, who was Jackman's huckleberry as the two traded fists. Jackman would get an additional minor penalty for cross-checking but the Ducks managed to kill it of without allowing a shot on target.
Frederik Andersen donned his Reservoir Ducks mask for the first time this season, and made his finest of four opening period stops on Sean Monahan after a failed cross-slot pass for Jiri Hudler that Monahan scooped up and tried to swoop a wraparound at the right post. It would be the only chance of real consequence for Calgary, as Anaheim dominated the shots on net and attempted numbers in the first twenty minutes, holding a 9-4 advantage in shots on target and 22-14 edge in attempts (with five of the Flame attempts coming on the Jackman penalty while the Ducks didn't receive an odd-man chance in the first). The pairing of Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson were best on the backend at generating shot attempts, each on ice for 10, while Kyle Palmieri showed the beginnings of chemistry skating on the second line with Ryan Kesler and Matt Beleskey.
Anaheim broke the deadlock with just over four minutes remaining in the frame as Sami Vatanen scored his first non-power play tally of the season. Jakob Silfverberg found Vatanen at the near point, and Sami had plenty of room to slide to the top of the circle before uncorking a blast that ticked off the stick of prone defenseman Raphael Diaz and in between the legs of Hiller to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead at the 15:54 mark. It was the cap to exactly the sort of beginning period one would like to see following the abominable performance against Florida, as Anaheim constricted Calgary defensively and saw all but Ryan Getzlaf and the pairing of Cam Fowler and Clayton Stoner on the neutral or plus side of the shot attempt ledger.
Continuing the standard set in the first, the Ducks again were stiflingly stingy on defense in the second stanza while continuing to push their edge on the shot counter. Vatanen drew the game's first penalty after Bryan Allen blocked a shot in front of the net, and as Vatanen went behind the net to retrieve it was tripped by the stick between his legs from Markus Granlund to give the Ducks their first crack against one of the lower third penalty killing units in the league. The Flames managed to kill it off as Hiller denied a trio of Anaheim shots, most notably flashing his trapper in familiar windmilling flair on a shot by Getzlaf from the top of the near circle while peering around a screen from Perry.
The Ducks would get a second crack with the man advantage when Emerson Etem got tripped in front of the net by Dennis Wideman with 8:33 remaining in the period. With the second unit on the ice Vatanen set up Lindholm at the blue line straight away between the circles, and his slap shot was deflected into the lower near corner of the cage by Beleskey past a still standing Hiller. Beleskey's eighth goal of the season just twenty games in now sits him three shy of his career high of 11 scored in his first full NHL campaign in 2009-10. Also of note, Vatanen picked up his second point of the night assisting on the score, moving himself into second on the team in scoring with 16 points, and also with a league-leading 84.6% of his points coming on the man advantage.
After the period Beleskey said of Vatanen's performance to Julie Stewart-Binks on the Prime Ticket broadcast, "He's playing great. He's shooting the puck, he's got a great shot, and is really smart on the power play."
Anaheim would see another grade A chance with just under four minutes remaining in the period, as Fowler fed Andrew Cogliano after an extended cycle in the attack zone, only for the shot to clang off the pipe. Through two the Ducks held a 19-7 shot advantage, and had the attempts edge by a sizable margin at 42-23, including a 32-18 advantage during 5-on-5 play. Palmieri was again the best forward in terms of being on ice for shots attempted, serving as a skater for six attempts during the second period, while Lindholm topped the team being on for eight attempts. Calgary had largely been suffocated offensively, and the arena sat oddly quiet for much of the game to the point, with sparse attempts to begin a chant or even make noise so as to wake up the home town boys.
Things changed in the third period as a pair of penalties by Palmieri opened the door for the Flames to get back in to the game. First he was whistled for a roughing minor on Paul Byron 44 second into the period after the Ducks had a quick sucker-punch chance that just missed. While Anaheim was able to kill the advantage off thanks to a great play-read save by Andersen denying Curtis Glencross on a ripped point blank chance between the circles, Calgary would crack the Duck defense after the penalty expired. As the Ducks struggled to clear the zone TJ Brodie made a razor-thin save of possession on the blue line and found Granlund, who then centered it to a wide open Hudler between the circles as Stoner had been cleared away by Lance Bouma and Hudler snapped it into the top right corner 3:25 into the period. Game on.
Palmieri took another penalty 2:56 later as he tried to lift the stick of Brodie while on the forecheck in the offensive zone but ended up getting the blade in his hands and was sent off for hooking. Once again the Flames failed with the extra skater as Andersen made a vital stop on Monahan, but scored shortly after the power play's expiry. Vatanen and Allen had a miscommunication on an attempted pass across the zone, and Granlund pounced on the turnover, leaving Allen deep, and dropped it back for Wideman to hammer a slapper home to tie the game 57 seconds before the midway mark of the third.
The guy Flames fans have taken to calling "Johnny Hockey", Johnny Gaudreau upped his play noticeably in the third, creating chances with his speed and forced a turnover that lead to the go ahead goal as he set up Wideman again from the far point to slap a knuckler into the top corner over the glove of a forward-falling Andersen with 6:17 to play. Just over a minute later with Anaheim pressuring Josh Jooris tripped up Silfverberg and gave the Ducks an odd-man chance, that Palmieri cashed in after a cannoning Vatanen shot missed, and Fowler got him the puck at the right side of the net. Palmieri made a a half circle rotation power move to face up Hiller and fired a shot the ricocheted up into the air and tumbled over Hiller and the goal line to tie the score at 3-3 with 4:55 to play. Silfverberg would be called for tripping late but the Ducks killed the advantage off and held on to earn the point despite being out-shot 10-6 in the final period and out-attempted 20-14 at even strength.
Though the teams ended up with the same shot total in the extra session the Flames had more attempts at 7-2, and looked the more dangerous team. There was a particularly scrambly stretch just over a minute into overtime where Brodie had an empty net but wailed it wide. The open ice of four-on-four suited Gaudreau especially well, as there were a couple instances where his speed lead helped Calgary set up shop in the attack zone. He had a sweeping wrap-around attempt that Andersen was able to jam the left pad to the post on and deny, and Brodie would force him to do the same late in the added session as well. Kesler took a cross checking penalty late, shoving Brodie down in the corner of the defensive zone, but the Ducks were able to batten the hatches with Andersen denying the hat trick to Wideman on a stomach-down sliding pad save, and Getzlaf essentially tackling Giordano in the dying seconds to prevent a final shot from being attempted and force the shootout.
Gaudreau - GOAL - Slow approach with a leg kick deke thrown between the circles, a quick show of the wrists and a drag to the backhand got Andersen to open up the wickets and Gaudreau slid it through for the 1-0 lead.
Kesler - GOAL - With boos raining down on him from years in Vancouver, Kesler swept left to the far circle before arcing across the slot and pinging a nasty snapper off the post and in past Hiller to the blocker side.
Hudler - SAVED - A rather vanilla attempt, approaching slowly through the slot with a quick hesitation feint thrown in before going backhand that Andersen read all the way and snapped up with his glove.
Silfverberg - SAVED - Another swing to the left circle before cutting across the slot, he tried to go against the grain over the glove but Hiller got just enough of the shoulder on it to send it over the top.
Monahan - GOAL - Swoopy attack starting right from the far point but coming back to the left at the top the circle, he then cut back to the bottom hash mark and wristed one over the pad and under the blocker of Andersen far post.
Perry - SAVED - A less pronounced swing to the far circle, he went as far over as the hash marks before coming back to the middle attempting to go high glove, but again Hiller clipped it high with the shoulder protection.
Palmieri spoke with Stewart-Binks on Prime Ticket after the game, saying, "I think we played well in the first 40 minutes and let up for the first 10 or 15 minutes of the third and were kind of scrambling to get back into it and get that point. Obviously we wanted two, but it's one tonight. Got to get back into it on Thursday."
Good: The first 40 minutes are exactly the sort of workman-like, dominating team that the Ducks can be as they were able to severely stifle the Flames while taking advantage of their edge in attempts to build up a multi-goal cushion. Following the utter failure against Florida, it started as a nice bounce back performance to see.
Bad: Another loss in the shootout, as teams seem to have a book now on first attacking Andersen's five hole to keep him from being overly aggressive, then taking advantage of the extra space he allows by not challenging as much on subsequent shooters. Make it now five overtime losses in their last six extra session appearances.
Ugly: Despite the strong play in the first 40 minutes, the old adage that two-goal leads are the worst was born out as the Flames only needed the slight crack of the door from the first Palmieri minor to build momentum for the comeback. Once the belief was back in the building and for the guys in red, the Ducks had difficulty in stemming the tide and needed the late power play to save a point in a game they controlled for the balance.
3rd Icehole: Johnny Gaudreau - While I'm sure some will clamor to have Allen or Stoner here, Gaudreau's speed and creativity were on full display as the game wore along, and he scored the dispiriting tweeners goal to start off the shootout.
2nd Icehole: Jonas Hiller - While rarely forced to be fantastic, Hiller made enough saves to keep the Flames in the game and came up big with a pair of "just got enough of it" deflections with his shoulder in the shootout. That jumping celebration at the end was an extra twist of the dagger.
1st Icehole: Dennis Wideman - Sure, he was actually on ice for negative net shot attempts, but he had the game tying and go ahead goals in the third period. While much of the hype before the game rightfully was focused on the duo of Giordano and Brodie, leave it to the less discussed but still valuable second pairing guy to fill out the "scoring defense" storyline while vaulting into a team-leading tie with Sean Monahan against the Ducks.
Next Game: Thursday, November 20, 2014 @ Vancouver 7:00 PM PT