Final Score: Ducks 2, Islanders 3 (OT)
Chart courtesy of war-on-ice.com
For the second game in a row, the Ducks faced some last minute roster changes. Earlier in the day Igor Bobkov was returned to Norfolk, indicating that Frederik Andersen was available. He was, but only as a backup to Jason LaBarbera. Even more importantly, and certainly more surprisingly, the Ducks would also be without the service of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf as well due to flu-like-symptoms. As relayed on the broadcast it was the first game in five and a half years and only the fifth time in the last eight years that the Ducks have started without at least one of Getzlaf or Perry in the lineup.
As such the entire forward lineup was chucked into the blender and came out like so:
Patrick Maroon - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg
Dany Heatley - William Karlsson - Devante Smith-Pelly
Matt Beleskey - Nate Thompson - Andrew Cogliano
Emerson Etem - Rickard Rakell - Tim Jackman
(order of lines subject to review)
The first five minutes had little flow, but the Islanders struck first as LaBarbera unknowingly kicked a rebound right to John Tavares, which is just about the worst case scenario, and the Islanders' super star potted an easy goal. 1-0 Islanders.
In all the lineup craziness, no changes were made to the defense, but before the first commercial break Josh Manson headed to the Ducks' dressing room, having taken a clean but hard hit from Matt Martin. He missed a shift, came back then missed another chunk of time before returning in the early going of the second period.
Just before the halfway mark of the period, Sami Vatanen was whistled for interfering with Tavares as the Islander attempted to enter the Ducks' zone. Midway through the kill LaBarbara got into some hot water with another nasty rebound but he and the defense were able to scramble enough to carry out of the zone and even draw a penalty (Brock Nelson hooking Clayton Stoner?!?!) for some 4-on-4 hockey. Cam Fowler skimmed the cross bar with a shot during the even strength play but nothing resulted from the abbreviated Ducks power play.
The Anaheim fourth line (Rakell's line) had possibly the most effective shift of the period for the Ducks, holding the zone and getting a couple of shots away, impressively against the Tavares line. Unfortunately that is indicative of how little offense the Ducks were able to produce throughout the period.
With a minute and a half left Silfverberg was sent off for hooking Johnny Boychuk deep in the Islanders' zone but the Ducks survived to the intermission still only trailing by one, outshot 12-4 and with 34 seconds of carry over penalty kill time.
Immediately Kyle Okposo ripped one off the post and in to double the New York lead. 2-0 Islanders. Before the first minute of the period was off the clock, the puck was in the net behind LaBarbera again, however this one was clearly batted in by the glove of Brock Nelson off of an airborne rebound. There was a review because technically Heatly's glove was the one that touched the puck, but it was still ruled no goal since Nelson punching the back of Heatley's hand was what propelled the puck into the net.
The Islanders continued to control the play until Thomas Hickey went off for interfering with Kesler's breakout that could have resulted in an odd man rush for the Ducks. The PP took a long time to get set up and going, but once it did they did a good job of recovering pucks, partially thanks to Travis Hamonic's broken stick. Not coincidentally, the broken stick also gave Beleskey enough space to redirect a Kesler pass into the net. 2-1 Islanders.
The goal gave the Ducks some life and again it was the fourth line with a full shift in the offensive zone against the top line of the Islanders. But this time it wasn't only the fourth line, the rest of the Ducks were buzzing around the Islanders zone for the next five minutes or so, generating a number of scoring chances.
After the TV Timeout though, the bad news resumed as Maroon lost an edge and fell awkwardly into the end boards, staying down until the whistle had blown. He was able to make his way back to the bench without any assistance, but was favoring his previously injured left leg. Maroon returned to the ice to test the leg/knee a few minutes later, during the next commercial break, and got back in the game to at the beginning of the third period.
At the tail end of the period, a different fourth line, with Rakell, Etem and Smith-Pelly, put in a good cycling shift and caught the Islanders flying the zone as Rakell's mid-air back-heel kick found Etem at the top of the right circle. The Long Beach native wristed it through the screen of a defender, and DSP to tie the game up at two with just over a minute left in the middle period. 2-2 Tie.
Early in the period the Ducks appeared to take the lead on a wacky play. Beleskey got in behind the D, tipped the puck on net from the top of the crease and Hamonic lost his footing as he chased on the backcheck, slid into the puck and Jaroslav Halak. The call on the ice was goal, but upon further review, the puck never went into the net. No goal.
The Ducks continued to control the first half of the period, with the Islanders only mustering two shots in the first ten minutes, but New York got back into it with an extended shift in the Ducks' zone right in the middle of the frame. LaBarbera kicked out a few more succulent rebounds and the exhausted Ducks defenders did all they could to keep the play to the outside before eventually clearing.
A few shifts later the Etem, Smith-Pelly, Rakell line came close to taking the lead, zipping a couple of pucks right into the crease, but Halak denied them.
The last real chance of regulation was Kesler with time and space in the high slot, but he put it over the top and we were off to overtime.
A minute and a half into the extra period, Vatanen went off for elbowing, which could have also been called interference in the offensive zone. Terrible penalty to take by Sami. Kesler had a chance to clear the puck early on the kill that really should have gone out and the Islanders made them pay for it as Tavares shot it through LaBarbera's five hole for the game winner.
Good: It may not be fashionable to say these days, but to suddenly be without your three best players, fall behind by two goals and basically control of the second half of the game took a lot of heart/guts/balls/grit/determination... whatever you want to call it, from the Ducks. On a somewhat more tangible level, I'd say that this was possibly Emerson Etem's best game since the 2013 playoff series against Detroit, but that also goes to the above point, in that he was supposed to be a healthy scratch and got dropped into the lineup late in the day.
Bad: Rebounds, rebounds, rebounds. LaBarbera was kicking them out like Fred Flintstone does the Sabre Toothed Tiger, often and unsuccessfully. It's probably unfair to put him in the Iceholes below, because really only one of the goals was on him (the first one) and he kind of gave a performance you would expect from a veteran AHL goalie filling in as a third stringer.
Ugly: I hated the decision to use Freddy as the backup. It worked out fine because he wasn't called upon, but the Ducks know first hand from Sunday and pre-game today AND during the game today how quickly players can get hurt and have to call upon backups/other players to fill in. If he wasn't fit to start, he shouldn't have been put in the potential position to come in cold to relieve LaBarbera. I understand that it's not considered a particularly serious injury, as he played through it in at least part of the Dallas game and has obviously been improving since then, but if you're going to be cautious about it and give him extra time to rest then you need to make sure he gets that time.
3rd Icehole: The Flu Virus - Screw you virus, for taking our two best players. Although I guess it's not your fault that Getzy and Perry share a straw when they go out for a pre-game milkshake.
2nd Icehole: Ryan Kesler - You can't really expect him to entirely fill the role of Ryan Getzlaf but he was pretty ineffective in all areas tonight, aside from his assist on the PPG, and probably 70% at fault for the overtime winner after not clearing the zone on a clear cut opportunity (20% to Sami for taking a stupid penalty and 10% to LaBarbs for a gaping five hole).
1st Icehole: John Tavares - He's just really good, got put into two really good positions to score and did what he does.
Next Game: Friday, November 7, 2014 at 7pm PT vs. the ARIZONA Coyotes