Final Score: Ducks 5, Canucks 4 (SO)
In Ryan Kesler's first game in Vancouver since the trade that took him to Anaheim, it was unclear before puck drop if he'd be welcomed warmly or met with disapproving boos of fans in attendance. Well, it was the second option that proved true with waves of boos resonating from the crowd every time that Kesler touched the puck.
Thursday's game saw the return of Francois Beauchemin from his bout with mumps, Devante Smith-Pelly back from his unspecified upper-body injury, as well as Luca Sbisa in a Vancouver jersey after missing four games. Vancouver scratched Alexandre Burrows with a suspected upper-body injury, while Anaheim was without Bryan Allen who was traded to Montreal earlier in the day.
Well, the scoreboard didn't read 0-0 for very long in this game following puck drop! Andrew Cogliano jump-started the scoring and effectively deflated the energy of the Vancouver fans in attendance by potting a goal for Anaheim just 37 seconds into the game. Assists were credited to Jakob Silfverberg and Nate Thompson, who set up Cogliano for the first shot on goal of the game that also became the first strike of the game.
Rogers Arena continued to only get quieter and quieter through the first period when one of Vancouver's top defenders, Dan Hamhuis, caught skates with a Sedin twin and fell awkwardly. He was helped off the ice, and headed straight to the locker room with what looked like a knee injury. It was later announced that he did suffer lower-body injury, and he did not return.
Ryan Getzlaf all but hit the mute button on the crowd in Rogers Arena when he gave Anaheim a two-goal lead with less than seven minutes remaining in the opening period. The captain muscled past former-Duck Sbisa and potted a fantastic backhanded shot that hit top shelf behind Canuck netminder, Eddie Lack, with linemates Corey Perry and Patrick Maroon drawing assists on the play. Even the booing that had been a reliable roar whenever Kesler touched the puck in the early going of the game seemed to be muffled down to a hushed growl by the horn marking the end of the period.
After the first 20 minutes, the Ducks lead the Canucks 2-0, despite trailing 10-8 in shots and coming up short on the only powerplay of the game thus far. As expected tempers flared, resulting in a rather chippy first period with each team tallying 10 hits. Advanced statistics show that Vancouver had better possession numbers, however Anaheim, with nine blocked shots and 10 saves by Frederik Andersen, managed to keep them scoreless through one period.
Is it just me or did Anaheim look like the little engine that couldn't in this middle frame? The Ducks couldn't seem to find any sort of rhythm and ended up playing so much of the period in their own defensive zone, with Vancouver dominating possession numbers as well as scoring chances.
Anaheim opened the period with a successful penalty kill with Kesler sitting for cross checking. However just 1:08 following the conclusion of the penalty kill, Bo Horvat scored his first career goal and sliced Anaheim's lead to one.
Things went from unfavorable, to bad, to even worse pretty quickly between the 11th and 12th minute of the second period, Vancouver got two pucks in behind Andersen, one goal for Jannik Hansen on a delayed penalty call, and one for Radim Vrbata, who was left alone at the side of the net and had all the time in the world at the top of the crease to beat Andersen. With the two rapid-fire goals, coming just 30 seconds apart, the home crowd took the lead in a 3-2 game, and controlled the momentum of the game for the rest of the period.
The Ducks had to count their blessings and one of them was actually that they were only down by a goal at that point in the game. Andersen had some good saves that went alongside his weaker moments.
In the second period alone Anaheim blocked another nine shots, but the problematic stat was their seven giveaways through the first 40 minutes of the game. I hope Bruce Boudreau's head explodes over the number of irresponsible plays that the Ducks made in their own defensive zone. Heaven knows I had a bit of steam coming out of my ears already.
The Ducks came out swinging, with a revitalized energy that was completely absent in the second period. Do you ever wonder what Bruce Boudreau says in his locker room speeches during intermission? I would really like to know what he told them in order to get the boys to play like they did in the closing frame.
Anaheim scored the lone goal in the third period with Matt Beleskey fighting hard and finally scoring on the second or third rebound opportunity. With that ninth goal of the season, Anaheim's number 39 matches his season total from just one year ago. Need I remind you we just played in the 21st game of the season? Atta boy, Matty!
Despite the Ducks finally controlling the play and spending more time in Vancouver's defensive zone, Andersen was still required to make a few nail-biting saves. Freddie managed to keep the puck out of Anaheim's net with the help of the inside of his left skate blade after the puck nearly got through his legs, and the knob of his stick. Hey, they never ask how the saves were made, just if they were or how many. Andersen didn't do it in the pretty finesse way that we all miss, but he got the job done and kept Anaheim's hopes alive.
I'm so over this overtime crap. Eight of Anaheim's past ten games have gone to overtime or a shootout. Anaheim kept the momentum rolling from the end of regulation into the 4-on-4 overtime period keeping the Canucks without a single shot on goal.
Granted, Vancouver had a huge chance to end the game with a wide open net offered to Daniel Sedin, who will be seeing that scoring chance in his nightmares tonight. Andersen was completely out of the play, but somehow the puck completely missed the net.
Anaheim clocked five shots on goal in overtime, but Lack stood strong and played some admittedly strong goaltending and forced the game into a shootout. I swear, we've been here before haven't we? Oh right, it was about a week and a half ago, but it was in Anaheim.
|Team||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3|
|Anaheim||Perry - Goal||Kesler - Saved||Silfverberg - Goal|
|Vancouver||Bonino - Saved||Vrbata - Miss|
Perry opened the shootout with my favorite move in his repertoire, where he swings super wide and stalls until the last minute. He waited for Lack to bite, which he did, and then just lifted it above netminder. Gorgeous goal.
Former Duck Nick Bonino tried to psych out Andersen by going for the shot instead of his usual slick deke moves, but Freddy got the blocker on it.
Kesler, hearing the boos and responding with a cute little smirk, sped in on Lack and tried the shot that beat him in the last meeting, going between the leg and the arm to the blocker side. Didn't work with Lack making the save.
Vrbata, who already tallied a goal in this game back in the second period of regulation, sped in, almost had Andersen beat, but in doing so apparently also fooled himself, completely losing the handle and letting the puck dance harmlessly wide of the net. [Ed Note: Reminded me of this, but not quite as bad. -CK]
Silfverberg , who had several good chances earlier in the game, took advantage of his chance to end this game and went right to his reliable shot, hitting the net behind Lack in the top corner above the Vancouver goalie's glove.
The Good - Getting the Gritty Goals: Two of Anaheim's three goals in regulation were the production of persistence, determination, and serious fight. Cogliano's goal is the outlier, which was more of a lucky bounce that ended on number 7's stick, who played it perfectly and lifted it over Lack. Getzlaf's goal was much more of a battle. The captain wrestled past former teammate Sbisa and got in behind the defense, snapping the puck backhanded into the top shelf of the goal. Beleskey's passion and heart really is what was rewarded for his game-tying goal. He used his big body to get multiple chances on rebounds, and finally, just before getting crosschecked to the ice, slips one in for a much-deserved goal. About time that Anaheim's determination pays off with some goals!
The Bad - Powerplay Woes Return: Despite three chances with the extra man, Anaheim simply could not find a way to generate any good scoring chances. In the six minutes of powerplay time, the Ducks managed a disappointing one shot against Lack. After scoring on two of three powerplay opportunities in the shootout loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, Thursday's lack of scoring chances with the extra attacker seems like a huge step backwards for Anaheim.
The Ugly - The Entire 2nd Period: I feel like this is expected. Anaheim not only let Vancouver back into the game, but the Ducks completely squandered the two-goal lead they had built up, and pretty much gave the Canucks a one-goal lead. The So Cal squad looked absolutely atrocious and didn't help Andersen as much as they should have, committing to so many defensive zone turnovers that it looked like this game would end after three periods with Vancouver downing Anaheim in regulation. Somehow, the third period was a different team playing in Anaheim's sweaters, and they not only tied it but also kept the momentum alive in overtime.
Next Game: Sunday, November 23, 2014 - 5PM vs. Arizona Coyotes at Honda Center