Final Score: Ducks 2 - Maple Leafs 6
Chart courtesy www.war-on-ice.com
With the Ducks and Maple Leafs being teams the advanced stats folks often look at and scratch their heads in wonder over dual strings of success currently ridden this season, this served as a matchup of suspect shot attempt metrics (Anaheim 19th in the league attempting 49.7% of shots at 5 on 5) meeting peculiar PDO (Toronto 2nd at 102.8). Anaheim controlled the play in the first period, out attempting the Leafs 32-23 aided by a pair of power plays. Peter Holland was called for a face off violation and James van Riemsdyk got popped for goalie interference, but the Ducks couldn't score on any of their six shots. Kyle Palmieri had the best chance with the man advantage, but was stopped going to the backhand by Jonathan Bernier. As a sign of the weirdness of the evening Morgan Rielly had a clear on the penalty kill that Cam Fowler jumped to deflect with his glove at the Ducks blue line, then bounced on one-hop and required Frederik Andersen to make a quick reaction glove save.
Toronto opened the account with 4:48 remaining in the period when the Leafs prevented a clear and worked the puck behind the net for Phil Kessel, who gave it to van Riemsdyk in the far corner. Van Riemsdyk drove along the goal line to the front of the net, jamming the puck into Andersen's pads and drawing the coverage of both Fowler and Ben Lovejoy. That created an opening in the slot for a lurking Tyler Bozak, and as the puck squirted out he was able to jam it back through to give the home side a 1-0 edge. The Ducks had a pair of chances in the final two minutes, as Jakob Silfverberg forced a turnover by Dion Phaneuf along the far boards in the Leafs zone. Andrew Cogliano sent the puck to the corner for Devante Smith-Pelly, who slung it into the slot for Silfverberg, but he sailed the point-blank chance over the crossbar. In the dying seconds Ryan Kesler redirected a shot off Bernier's pads, but Matt Beleskey was unable to get a stick on the rebound as Cody Franson had his stick clamped between his arm and body.
Christmas came early for the Maple Leafs just 1:31 into the period as former Ducks Joffrey Lupul scored on a shot from the hashes at the far side wall that found its way between Andersen's blocker arm and body. Trailing by a pair, the Ducks had a great opportunity just over four and a half minutes into the period as Silfverberg lead and odd man rush by dropping the puck back to Clayton Stoner for a shot that Bernier flailed away with his stick, then Cogliano sent the rebound wide of the far post with Korbinian Holzer back checking him. Andersen kept the Ducks in the game by making a breakaway save on a swooping backhand move by Trevor Smith, denying it with a left pad, and then on a power play following a Silfverberg interference minor robbed Kessel.
Anaheim drew even with their third shorthanded goal in two games following a Tim Jackman hooking infraction, as Sami Vatanen jumped into the play with Toronto caught with four men low and took the feed from Ryan Kesler at the blue line. His snap shot from the right dot found a home between Bernier's legs in the back of the net to cut the deficit to 2-1. Bruce Boudreau made his first in game changes to the lines in a couple games, moving Patrick Maroon up to the line with Ryan Getzlaf and Smith-Pelly, replacing Rene Bourque. Despite spending four minutes of the period shorthanded the Ducks out-attempted the Leafs by a 29-20 margin, with the shots on goal at five-on-five differential particularly pronounced at 11-2.
Vatanen described his tally to Julie Stewart-Binks on the Prime Ticket broadcast, saying "I just saw they had four guys in our end and I had a free lane to skate, Kes made a good pass. I was trying to shoot for a little rebound but it went in."
The simmering dislike between Getzlaf and Phaneuf is always a subtle storyline whenever these two teams meet, and the two came together just over two minutes into the period as Phaneuf got his stick caught between Getzlaf's legs in the neutral zone and brought to one leg. Getzlaf hinged at the waist as if in a balancing stick yoga pose then kicked his foot out and tumbled to the ice, leading to a tripping minor on Phaneuf but also an embellishment call of his own. Kesler clanged the iron with the captain in the box, taking a feed from Palmieri at the left hash for the opportunity 3:35 into the period. Just over a minute later David Booth worked a wrap around behind the Ducks net and banked the puck off the back of Stoner's skate inside the near post to give the hosts a 3-1 lead. 51 seconds later Nazem Kadri caught the Ducks up on off a feed from Daniel Winnik and broke in two-on-one, dangling to get by Hampus Lindholm at the top of the circle and snapping a wrister past Andersen glove side. The goal was Leafs' fourth on 20 shots taken against Andersen, and signaled the end of his evening as the returning Ilya Bryzgalov made his Ducks debut in the #80 to try and change the momentum with 14:32 to play and Anaheim trailing 4-1.
Bryzgalov's first save was a good one, denying David Clarkson on a rush across the slot and backhand chance, staying with it the entire way and making the pad save. Moments later Beleskey found Palmieri at the top of the far circle, and he zipped it into the slot for Kesler to deflect past the pad of Bernier far post to cut into the deficit. It's the sixth straight game with a point for Palmieri, but that streak may end as he left the game a bit later in the period after what was announced as an upper body injury. Anaheim pressured, but were called for an offside with just under five minutes remaining that on replay was clearly whistled incorrectly. As Maroon registered his displeasure with the officials he was given an unsportsmanlike conduct minor, and Kessel scored on a nasty wrist shot from the far circle to confirm the result on the ensuing power play. Kessel scored again for additional indignity with 1:43 left as he took a breakaway feed splitting the defense at center, beating Bryzgalov to the stick side along the ice. Though shots were even at 11 in the period the Ducks again out-attempted the Leafs 28-16, finishing the game with a 42-27 shot on goal advantage and the duo of Vatanen (26 CF) and Stoner (22 CF) as the duo on ice for most shot attempts.
Good: For much of the game the Ducks were the aggressors, spending time in the Maple Leaf zone and generating a sizable differential in both shots on net as well as shots attempted. Any time a team is +30 as far as shot attempts one has to feel good about their chances, but it's exactly the kind of game that Toronto has been successful playing against in this stretch...
Bad: ...And with that being said, 40 of those attempts came from at or above the circles, and at or outside the dots in the zone. Nearly 45% of Anaheim's shot attempts were from the perimeter, as opposed to 40% of Toronto's. When the team isn't getting to rebounds, that makes a big difference. The second Maple Leaf scored by Lupul is a stop that simply must be made. The puck bouncing in over Andersen's pad on a deflection off Stoner's skate on a wrap around attempt is misfortune. Getting caught up ice 51 seconds later was the final time the hourglass was turned over for the game.
Ugly: It's admittedly poor form to chirp the refs, especially considering the Ducks failed to convert on their chances and gave Toronto a few gifts- make no mistake about it though, Toronto beating Anaheim was all about the Maple Leafs capitalizing on their chances. However the offside call that preceded Maroon's unsportsmanlike conduct minor in the third period was flat out incorrect, and the subsequent penalizing of dissent lead to the curtain dropping goal from Kessel. It's understandable that officials want and need to manage the game but it's unfortunate when it leads to a call sets the wheels in motion for the game to be over, especially when it stems a wrong call.
3rd Icehole: Tyler Bozak - This is really more personal feeling than anything, but seeing Bozak play cemented the assertion that most any competent NHL center with a patina of offensive acumen could produce numbers skating with Kessel and van Riemsdyk. He had the best face off percentage among centers, winning 57% of the draws including 73% in the Leafs zone, and in general plays a wholly unspectacular game. Perhaps it's a necessary counter-balance to the skill of the Olympians he skates with, but it still feels like some random at the basketball court getting to play 3-on-3 with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as his teammates.
2nd Icehole: Jonathan Bernier - When looking at the shot totals, it's easy to think that Bernier stole the game in making 40 stops. The Ducks did several quality chances on him, but at the same time rarely got to rebounds or forced him to make a save he wasn't in position or able to make the read for. That being said, he did prevent 40 pucks from reaching the back of the net, and for that he should be rightfully acknowledged.
1st Icehole: Phil Kessel - The Duck killer does it again, and perhaps in the most annoying of manners. Not only does he end up the game high scorer, but he does so by setting up van Riemsdyk's drive to the net that created the game opening goal by Bozak, then scoring twice late. He is a superb talent with a knack for making things happen against Anaheim, it's even more aggravating when it comes off a greasy net front scramble and a pair of garbage time goals.
Next Game: Thursday, December 18, 2014 at Montreal, 4:30 PM PT