Minor change in the forward lines from last night in Arizona, Max Frieberg was brought up from Norfolk for his first career NHL game and inserted in place of Dany Heatley on the fourth line. Also the experimentation in the bottom six continued somewhat as Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg were reunited to start the game, but with Nate Thompson at center rather than Rickard Rakell.
Vancouver came out with some jump in their step, as they say. Within the first few minutes Frederik Andersen (surprise, surprise starting back to backs) was forced to play a couple of pucks away from aggressive net front presences in Brad Richardson and Bo Horvat, The latter of whom went off for the first penalty of the game, in an effort to keep Ryan Kesler from driving into the crease. That power play only lasted five seconds as Rene Bourque was nabbed for tripping right off the faceoff. The only result of the 4-on-4 play was the Ducks' first shot of the game.
Just shy of the eight minute mark, Patrick Maroon and Derek Dorsett decided to drop the gloves in an incredibly awkward fight right along the glass. Dorsett got Maroon's helmet off and a number of taps to the back of his head, but they were tied up so closely that nothing really happened. Eventually they pulled away from the glass but the linesmen jumped right in after that. Give it to Dorsett on the technicality that he kind of threw some punches that made contact. A lot of work for not a lot of result on both ends, although I guess most fights fall in that category these days.
The Ducks' first real scoring chance ended up without a shot on goal. Bourque and Devante Smith-Pelly worked the puck free behind Vancouver's net and Bourque got the puck to Ryan Getzlaf right in front, but the pass deflected harmlessly off of his foot before he could get it toward Ryan Miller.
That top line had another chance, that also didn't end up with a shot on goal, slightly more than 14 minutes in as Getzlaf intercepted an outlet pass and shoveled a backhand pass to DSP in front, but he was hauled down by Kevin Bieksa for their first real power play of the game. But just as well to take the two minutes as the puck was knocked out of midair by Miller's stick before DSP would have been able to play it anyway. As has been the case recently, no good came of the full power play either.
In the last few minutes, Nick Bonino was stopped at the top of the crease by Andersen as Cam Fowler knocked the former Duck to the ice. Clayton Stoner was set up by a strong forechecking shift by Maroon but blew it over the top and the Ducks put together a pretty passing shift in the O Zone to finish off the first, but Ben Lovejoy's shot at the buzzer was gloved off by Miller to keep it scoreless after 20.
Vancouver opened the scoring just over two minutes into the second when Yannick Weber whipped a wrist shot from the point through traffic that found the top corner. There was no deflection but Freddy never saw it. 1-0 Canucks.
On the next shift Weber was off to the penalty box for tripping Silfverberg. Once again the PP was just all over the place, no chance whatsoever. If anything they were lucky the Canucks failed on a shorthanded 2-on-1.
After a good forechecking shift from Kesler and Smith-Pelly, Linden Vey danced around Francois Beauchemin but fanned on his shot as he was 1-on-1 with Andersen.
The middle of the second settled into a serious lull only broken up by some nice passing from a line of Frieberg, Rakell and Bourque but Miller was there before Bourque could even think about getting the shot away. Similarly with about five minutes left Emerson Etem stripped Luca Sbisa of the puck deep in the Vancouver zone, set up Maroon on the doorstep, but once again Miller had it covered all day long.
The Ducks finished the period with a flurry in the final 30 seconds. First was a chance by Silfverberg at the top of the crease that (say it with me) Miller had all the way. But in the dying seconds of the period, Silf made a beautiful backhand pass to Cogliano who finally had Miller beat, but rang it off the cross bar. And the period ended 1-0 to the visitors.
In the first minute of the third, Sami Vatanen drew a hooking call from Bonino as the Finn attempted one of his patented rushes through neutral ice. This time the PP was uncharacteristically worth a damn but still couldn't convert.
Just as the Ducks were really pouring it on and I was thinking about naming Ryan Miller the first second and third star of the game for playing an entirely perfect game, Beauch cranked a slap shot from the point through a ton traffic and past Miller right off a faceoff win by Getzlaf. Weird coincidence, but there was absolutely nothing Miller could have done about that one. 1-1 Tie.
The Ducks continued to be the more offensively minded team after the game was tied, but were nearly caught by an odd circumstance when Lovejoy was chopped down behind Andersen. You could see (in real time) the referee, Mike Leggo, about to blow the whistle and then decide against it. The puck came to Horvat and Andersen had to make a pretty kick save to bail the Leggo out of some horrendous boos.
As boring as the middle part of the second was, the last 10-15 minutes of the third were outrageously entertaining. The action simply never stopped, back and forth they went, but the Ducks seemed like the only ones able to get shots toward the net. The crown jewel of that stretch was a partial breakaway by Cogliano (from a beautiful defensive play/stretch pass by Lindholm) that once again clanged off the crossbar to keep it tied at one with about two and a half minutes left. And it was off to Overtime for the second in as many nights.
Almost two minutes in, the Ducks caught Vancouver on a change, Fowler, Lindholm and Cogliano worked a short 3-on-2 that Fowler shot from the faceoff dot. Miller was way out to challenge, kicked the rebound far out to the side and just over Cogs' stick , who would have had an empty net (before he inevitably would have it another post). Going the other way on the same shift, Daniel Sedin (first time I've mentioned either of them all night) was in alone on Andersen after an ally oop pass from Alex Edler, but couldn't handle the puck.
More pond hockey ensued as Janik Hansen drove the net Bobby Ryan style and was rubbed out right into Andersen. As Hansen gathered himself behind the play the Ducks charged back. Miller made a good save on a redirection from Smith-Pelly but for once couldn't control the rebound and Cam Fowler snuck down to end the game. 2-1 Ducks Win!
The Good: Can't say enough about how fantastic the second half (or so) of the game was. Particularly after Beauch tied the game the Ducks were fully in the ascendancy. It was so wide open, and so much fun to watch (maybe not from a coaching perspective) but they still only gave up 14 shots on goal (six in the second and third period combined).
The Bad: Just because I have nowhere else to put it, Ryan Miller was out-f***ing-standing tonight. As far as I could tell he really only made two mistakes the entire 62:42 that he was out there, and the Ducks made him pay on the most important one. Not flashy, just fundamentally and positionally perfect.
The Ugly: Something has to give with this power play. Help us Obi Wan Perry, you're our only hope. In fairness the first one was only five seconds and the last one was decent, but the middle two were really that bad.
3rd MVD: Andrew Cogliano - Dude is kicking the sh** out of that ketchup bottle, but nothing is coming out. Two posts tonight, in addition to the one he hit last night. He's so close he can taste it, but just nothing seems to be going in for him right now. For what it's worth to the fancy statters his PDO is 94.8 at 5v5 this season.
2nd MVD: Ryan Getzlaf - assisted on both Ducks goals (a clean faceoff win and a shot that was deflected) to extend his scoring streak to eight games with 13 points. The Man.
1st MVD: Cam Fowler - Sure the Ducks caught a break with Hansen being down and out away from the play on the overtime winner (not the first time we've said that) but you have to love Cam Fowler getting all the way down to the crease during the 4-on-4 overtime. And as stated above, making the best of one of the only mistakes Miller made all night.
Next Game: Wednesday, December 31 at 5pm vs. the San Jose Sharks