Final Score: Ducks 5 - Jets 4 (SO)
Chart courtesy www.naturalstattrick.com
With the game's start time pushed back nearly an hour from it's scheduled puck drop, action was disjointed in the early going until Ben Lovejoy laid a heavy hit just over two minutes into the game. Evander Kane would respond for the Jets, taking a roughing penalty moments later for making contact with Lovejoy's head while taking retribution just in front of the near boards. Anaheim couldn't convert, but Kyle Palmieri made a nice play retrieving a dump in behind the net and sliding it in front to a charging Ryan Kesler, who redirected the feed into the pads of Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec as he hugged the post. The power play was fruitless, as was Winnipeg's when Andrew Cogliano went off for a hook just under five minutes in.
The Jets took the lead on a rebound goal by Kane at the 7:47 mark as Toby Enstrom took advantage of a poor zone clear by Francois Beauchemin and found Adam Lowry, whose shot produced Kane's tally. Anaheim responded 46 second later with Jay Harrison in the box for boarding, as Palmieri made a nice power move to drive the puck to the front of the net and Rickard Rakell came crashing in to chip the rebound in and tie the score at ones. It would be short lived though, as a defensive breakdown at the 9:49 mark allowed Zach Bogosian all alone in front of the net to tap home a centering feed from Michael Frolik and put the Jets back in front. Winnipeg finished the period ahead 3-1 after a shot from the point by Dustin Byfuglien was redirected and slowed down by Mathieu Perreault and created a rebound that sat like a cookie on the counter for Mark Scheifele to knock home with 5:24 remaining in the period. The Ducks trailed by a pair after one despite out-shooting the Jets 13-10 and converting on one of their three power play chances.
Anaheim opened the second stanza with a great opportunity for Patrick Maroon in front of a feed from behind the net by Corey Perry, but the pass was slightly out of his wheelhouse and he redirected the puck into Pavelec's right pad. Frederik Andersen made a nice save on a point blank chance for Scheifele with seven minutes gone in the period, and would ultimately make stops of 12 of the 13 Winnipeg shots he faced in the frame as the Jets outshot the Ducks 13-10. Jakob Silfverberg had a spin-o-rama shot attempt past the midway mark, but couldn't get it on frame. The teams traded goals with just over five minutes remaining before the nastiness of the game really set in.
Rakell dumped the puck behind the Winnipeg net for Cogliano to retrieve and wait to send a feed back into the slot that was behind a cutting Rakell but right on the tape of Tim Jackman, who ripped the puck home to cut the score to 3-2 at the 13:38 mark. Hampus Lindholm took a touchy interference penalty against Ben Chiarot, and as the Ducks were killing off the penalty Silfverberg got roughed up off the puck in the defensive zone to draw the ire of the crowd. Winnipeg built their lead back up to a pair after Lindholm fell trying to turn and play a puck at the offensive blue line following a pseudo-fight between Maroon and Chris Thorburn. Bryan Little took advantage of the miscue, head-manning a pass to Blake Wheeler for a two-on-one with Andrew Ladd, and Wheeler fired the puck across the slot to Ladd back post to punch home past a just late splitting Andersen.
Anaheim took a quatrain of penalties in the final two minutes, with Matt Beleskey called for an elbow, Sami Vatanen high-sticking Wheeler in front of the net, and a clean hit by Byfuglien on Beauchemin (it looked worse in real time as Byfuglien's elbow came up after he made contact and hammered the Ducks defenseman hard into the boards) brought Ryan Getzlaf to defend his defensman's honor with both getting roughing minors but Getzlaf picking up an extra two for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Ducks spent the final 44 seconds of the period down two men, and would face that scenario to start the third.
Facing a five-on-three, the Ducks were able to limit the Jets chances and get some timely stops from Andersen to keep the score at 4-2. Energized from completing the kill, Anaheim pressed the issue and benefitted from Kane taking a goalie interference minor. On the advantage Palmieri accepted the puck from Rakell in the near corner and powered to the hash marks and ripped a backhander past Pavelec stick-side with 13:35 to play. Palmieri had a few extra words for Pavelec after scoring, and it gave the Ducks a major jolt as they carried play for the remainder of regulation. Palmieri created another chance that Pavelec denied but kicked a long rebound out to Clayton Stoner and made the save on the shot from the point. Scheifele took a slashing penalty behind the play just past the midway mark of the period, but despite pressure Pavelec remained resolute.
Lovejoy created near disaster turning the puck over to Wheeler for a mini-breakaway from inside the Ducks blue line with just over six minutes remaining, but the chance airmailed over the crossbar. Stoner created another chance with a shot from the point over a minute later that created a long rebound at the near post for Rakell, but Pavelec was able to get over and make the save. Pavelec also had a highlight reel caliber diving save to deny Kesler on a cross slot feed from Cam Fowler. With the Ducks outshooting the Jets 18-6 for the period, the aggressive forechecking paid off when Silfverberg made Byfuglien cough the puck up behind the net for Maroon. Maroon, standing on the orange number eight, centered the puck for Rakell to drag across the slot and beat Pavelec along the ice beyond his left pad to tie the game 4-4 with 2:03 to play. Another Byfuglien hit, this time clean on Perry at center ice, drew attention of a pair of Ducks but resulted in a roughing minor on Kesler that would straddle the end of regulation.
The Ducks were again able to come through with a clutch kill, getting a couple saves by Andersen before springing Kesler for a chance out of the box. An attempted pass out of the zone got tipped by Kesler and created a two-on-zero with him and Palmieri, Palmieri feeding Kesler for a forehand-backhand move that got stopped cold by Pavelec's left pad at the far post. Stoner laid an absolutely thunderous hit on Scheifele along the near boards as neither side could manage much in the way of quality opportunities thereafter, and headed to the shootout after the Jets outshot the Ducks 3-2 in the extra session, but Anaheim holding the 43-32 edge for the balance of the game.
Blake Wheeler - Hard charging in up slot, used a couple stickhandles around the puck before dragging it around left pad and of a prone Andersen to slam it home. GOAL. 1-0 Winnipeg
Jakob Silfverberg - Sweep far circle, his usual cut to the middle and wrister to the glove side but Pavelec got piece of it to send over top. SAVED. 1-0 Winnipeg
Mathieu Perreault - Slow moving up far hash, the puck rolled in slot as he tried to stickhandle in front of the crease and it bobbled into Andersen's waiting butterfly. SAVED! 1-0 Winnipeg
Corey Perry - Sweept in off right wing, carrying to top of goal crease in slot and fired over top glove side with Pavelec probing with a pokecheck. MISS. 1-0 Winnipeg
Bryan Little - Swing in off left wing, cut to middle and shoot wide to glove side. MISS! 1-0 Winnipeg
Ryan Kesler - Needing a goal to keep the shootout going, he swept to far circle before coming middle and firing back against the grain blocker side over pad between the arm. GOAL! 1-1
Evander Kane - Sweep from top of near circle to slot, fired stick side and beats Andersen in same spot as Kesler had just beaten Pavelec. GOAL. 2-1 Winnipeg
Rickard Rakell - Slower move up near circle, backhand drag across slot that Pavelec dove for with pokecheck allowing a backhand roof-job that hit the top back pipe of the net. GOAL! 2-2
Andrew Ladd - Hard drive up middle with a quick shot to the stick side that Andersen denied with the right pad. SAVED! 2-2
Kyle Palmieri - Speeds in up the middle to fire high glove side with a wrister but Pavelec got the mitt on it to deflect it over top. SAVED. 2-2
Mark Scheifele - Comes near circle, fired from the hash mark with a wrister that rung the iron to Andersen's blocker side. MISS! 2-2
Sami Vatanen - Quick move up the middle, with a slight fake given to the far circle then fired a wrister blocker side past Pavelec. GOAL! 3-2 Ducks win!
Good: Coming into the game having scored on only three of their previous 32 power play opportunities, the Ducks got a pair of special teams goals and perhaps more importantly were able to kill off all six of the Jets power play chances. While Andersen was not great, he made a couple of critical stops on the Winnipeg two-man advantage at the start of the third period. Some nights when teams don't have their best game they need special teams to come through for them, and coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game that special teams were the reason Anaheim was able to rally for the win tonight.
Bad: While the penalty killing was solid, you never want to put yourself in a situation where the team faces a two-man advantage against for as long as the Ducks did at the end of the second period and beginning of the third. Some of the penalties in particular were responses to clean hits by Byfuglien, and put the team in tough spots.
Ugly: Man, was the defending poor in the early going. As the game went along and the Ducks took more and more control of the game the issue lessened, but in the first period in particular there were bad passes, poor decisions, and the front of the net ceded far too easily. The Jets did well to get inside their defenders in the early going and used that to their advantage in getting to a vast majority of loose pucks and making Anaheim's errors in their own end hurt on the scoreboard.
3rd MVD: Sami Vatanen - Hard to beat getting to play the hero on the night that your own hockey hero has his number retired. Despite finishing the game even in terms of shot attempts on ice for and taking a high-sticking penalty that put the Ducks down two men late in the second period, he assisted on Palmieri's third period power play goal and fittingly scored the shootout winner.
2nd MVD: Kyle Palmieri - Though one of only three players who was on ice for more shot attempts against, Palmieri was an energetic presence that seemed to build as the game went along. Creating Rakell's power play goal in the first peiod, and then willing his own in the third period on an impressive drive to the net and backhand, he showed the kind of fire that the Ducks will need to get more consistent production outside the usual suspects. Palmieri clearly likes playing the Jets, and getting in the face of Pavelec after his goal showed a confidence not consistently seen from him, but is a very good sign moving forward.
1st MVD: Rickard Rakell - The narrative has gone since his return from a brief AHL stint earlier in the season Rakell has been a much more comfortable, complete NHL player. Tonight was a coming out party of sorts for the center, tying the Ducks franchise record for points in a game by a rookie (four, joining Getzlaf and Stanislav Chistov) and making good things happen almost every time he was on the ice. For a player that's had so many chances, to see so many of them converted on a night where the Ducks needed an offensive spark was a fine performance from a player that continues to be growing into his professional skin.
Next Game: Wednesday, January 14, 2014 vs Toronto, 7:00 PM PT