Final Score: Ducks 4, Maple Leafs 0
First Period Recap:
Skating up top with the Twins, Patrick Maroon had the first chance of the game on a wraparound that Jonathan Bernier swallowed up. On the next shift Jakob Silfverberg sent a pretty pass to Andrew Cogliano, but it went off the latter's skates, and Rickard Rakell couldn't connect on a swing at the bouncing puck.
A few minutes later, Ben Lovejoy failed to keep the puck in the Leafs' zone, giving David Clarkson a chance to skate up ice, but Ryan Kesler really turned on the jets and closed a pretty huge gap before stripping Clarkson and sending it the other way. Highlight reel backcheck, if such a thing exists.
Two shifts later, Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel took advantage of Sami Vatanen's aggressive positioning and went 2-on-1 against Clayton Stoner. Bozak's pass connected, but Kessel hit the outside of the net with his shot. The Leafs got another 2-on-1 soon after, but this time it was Vatanen back on D while Hampus Lindholm was up ice, and Vatanen was able to break up James van Riemsdyk's pass toward Nazem Kadri. Twenty seconds after that, David Booth picked off a Vatanen-to-Stoner pass and rushed up ice but missed his shot.
10:45 into the period, the Leafs went down two men on the same shift. Trevor Smith tripped Tim Jackman and Richard Panik hooked Andrew Cogliano, who was in the process of trying to receive a pass from Rakell that would have resulted in a Grade A scoring chance. Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf each shot some good looking one-timers on the ensuing two minute 5-on-3, but neither could bury it, and it wasn't until the second power play unit took the ice that the fun began.
With time winding down on both penalties, Lindholm sent a quick cross ice slap pass to Kyle Palmieri, who picked the short side top corner with a perfect wrist shot. I thought it was a good goal while watching it happen, and the players on the ice seemed to think so, but since the referee missed it, play went on for another four seconds before Lindholm scored his own top-shelf wrist shot goal. Video review confirmed what most observers had figured out, and Lindholm's goal was exchanged for an assist. 1-0 Ducks.
A minute or so later, Morgan Reilly missed high on a dangerous looking shot from up high after receiving a pass from Kessel. The Ducks went the other way, and Devante Smith-Pelly sent a puck to the middle of the ice, where Tim Jackman went in alone against Bernier, but ultimately stickhandled himself out of possession, which is a roundabout way of saying he lost the puck.
The final six minutes of the period were relatively uneventful, characterized by missed passes and plays being broken up before they could get going, with the Ducks carrying the play more often than not. Their best chance came when Corey Perry walked in and wired a slapshot just wide of the cage.
Second Period Recap:
Rakell started off the period with a good neutral zone pass to Cogliano, who skated into the zone and gave it Beauchemin. Beauch passed it right back, and Bernier had to make a decent save on Cogliano's shot. Right after the faceoff that followed the save, Palmieri's stick shattered as he tried to one-time the puck from near the slot. A couple minutes later, the Ducks got another great scoring chance when Getzlaf stripped Dion Phaneuf and skated in on the right wing. The captain then passed across to Perry on the left wing, who sent it to Maroon in the middle. Maroon was unable to one-time the puck, and as a result Bernier had enough time to get over and make the save.
The next time the big line took to the ice, Getzlaf took the puck away from Panik behind Bernier's net and kick-started a dominant shift that ended in Perry curling out from the boards into the left circle, where he released a low wrist shot that bounced off Cody Franson's skate and slid right between Bernier's legs. 2-0 Ducks.
Two minutes after that, Bozak skated around Stoner and sent a pass to Daniel Winnik in the slot. Winnik's shot wasn't perfect, and Andersen made the save. Stoner stayed out for the ensuing faceoff, and coughed up the puck right after it came to him, allowing the Leafs to play with the puck for the next eternity. After the Ducks finally got a hold of it, still in their zone, Rakell turned it over and the play ended with Kessel shooting a one-timer that forced Andersen to make the best save of the night to that point. On the shift after that, the Leafs controlled play in the Ducks zone again. But on the shift after that one, the Ducks controlled play at the other end, mostly due to some good work by Kesler and Palmieri.
The thirteenth minute of the period was the latest installment in the Ryan Getzlaf show. He dominated the Leafs down low, won some battles, controlled the puck, and made a couple of gorgeous passes. As a result of his play, Perry had a glorious chance on the doorstep that forced Bernier to make three saves: first on Perry's shot, second on Perry's rebound shot, and third on Maroon's rebound rebound shot. After that, Getzlaf found Maroon wide open in front, but Maroon was unable to corral the puck.
On their next shift, they cashed in. When Perry saw that Getzlaf was about to get to a loose puck, he started flying the zone. While Getzlaf skated toward that puck, he took a look over his shoulder saw what Perry was up to. When he got to it, he sent a long-range backhand pass that gave Perry a breakaway that was close to offside. Perry skated in alone on Bernier and scored between his glove and his left pad. 3-0 Ducks.
Almost exactly a minute later, Kesler hooked Kadri, but Toronto did not look dangerous on the power play, registering no shots on goal. Nate Thompson made a couple of good defensive plays. On the shift following the power play, Francois Beauchemin tripped Panik, and the Leafs played better on their second power play. Kessel and Co. moved the puck around pretty well, but could not come up with a goal.
Third Period Recap:
The Ducks' game plan was very evident from the beginning of the third: Don't take any chances and be responsible with the puck. As a result, the first five minutes were very boring from a scoring chances perspective. Whenever the Ducks had the puck (which was a lot) they would move it around the perimeter and never really push for another goal. Whenever the Leafs had the puck (not as much), the Ducks forced them to turn it over.
The Leafs' first decent chance came over six minutes into the period, and when I say decent chance, I mean a point shot from Roman Polak that Andersen saved without a ton of traffic in front. Half a minute later, Morgan Reilly showed off his skating ability and rushed the puck into the Ducks' zone, but tried one move too many and lost the puck.
As the period neared its halfway mark, Vatanen went to collect the puck in the Leaf's zone with Booth bearing down on him. As Booth approached for a hit, Vatanen, while looking at the puck, raised his left elbow, which hit Booth right in the face. Booth went down, obviously hurt, and no penalty was called on the play. Tough play to watch, especially considering Booth's concussion history.
A minute and a half later, Getzlaf passed to Perry in the slot, but he couldn't bury it for the hat trick (yet). Four minutes after that, Palmieri took a shot right after Kesler won a faceoff. The puck bounced off Franson (again) en route to Bernier, and the Leafs' goaltender had to make an impressive save. At the end of the next shift, Kesler took a holding penalty on Phaneuf, and during the delayed penalty van Riemsdyk got off a good shot that Andersen got a piece off.
While Kesler sat, Peter Horachek pulled his goalie to create a 6-on-4, also allowing the Ducks to shoot at the empty net without risking an icing call. Getzlaf, Smith-Pelly, and Silfverberg (twice) all attempted to score from their own side of the red line, but they all missed, with Getzlaf coming the closest by hitting the left post. After the penalty had expired, Stoner pushed the puck out of the crease to Perry, who did not miss. Hat trick for Number 10, and 4-0 Ducks.
The Good: Just about everything, but we'll go with special teams here. The Ducks scored on their only two minutes of power play time (which were admittedly 5-on-3), and they killed off all three Toronto power plays in convincing fashion. For a team that is 22nd on the PP and 17th on the PK, that's a good night, and the Ducks are likely going to need some huge special teams performances if they plan on making it past the second round of the playoffs this year. It's high time they got working on it.
The Bad: I like more than a couple things about Patrick Maroon, but at a certain point we might just have to accept the fact that this guy is not a finisher, and if you ask me, Getzlaf and Perry should be playing with a finisher. Whoever plays up top with the Twins will inevitably get a boatload of excellent scoring chances. Maroon got more than his fair share tonight, including at least two on-the-doorstep, no-defensemen-in-sight, what-am-I-going-to-do-with-all-this-time opportunities, and he didn't make any of them count.
The Ugly: Sitting Matt Beleskey in favor of Rene Bourque? Yeah, I'd say that's pretty ugly.
Next Game: Friday January 16th at 7:00 PST vs New Jersey Devils