Final Score: Ducks 5, Devils 1
The Ducks were on the front foot right away and took an early lead only 4:09 into the first. Even though the first 10-12 minutes or so were completely controlled by the Ducks, the goal was a bit of good fortune. Corey Perry threw a puck to the front of the net for Patrick Maroon, but before it got to him, Cory Schneider attempted to cut off the pass and the puck bounced off his stick and into the net. So good fortune, but created by Perry and Maroon doing good work. 1-0 Ducks.
Anaheim got the first power play of the game when Adam Henrique broke Ryan Kesler's stick with a slash. The first unit looked very dangerous in the first half of the man advantage, Perry in particular, but the Ducks couldn't convert.
Just about a minute after the kill was complete the Devils got their first PP chance when Sami Vatanen was sent off for tripping Mike Cammalleri. What followed was clearly the low point of the game as Martin Havlat scored from approximately an 89 degree angle to the face of the goal. His feet were behind the goal line, he threw it to the front and Bryz was already cheating the other way. Terrible goal. 1-1 Tie.
And that's how the first period would end with the Ducks vastly out shooting the Devils 15-5, but all even where it counts.
New Jersey was forced to start the second period with Keith Kinkaid in net due to an upper body injury to Schneider and that would prove fortuitous for the Ducks. Anaheim got right back to completely dominating the game and scored on two of their first three shots in the period.
The first was an outstanding play by everyone on the ice. All six Ducks touched the puck in a beautiful build up to the goal. Bryz got a piece of the New Jersey dump in to slow it down for Hampus Lindholm, he moved it up to Devante Smith-Pelly, who tapped it back to Francois Beauchemin. He, in turn, found Rickard Rakell with a breakout pass and that's when the magic really started. Rakell opened up all kinds of ice with a cross ice pass in the neutral zone to Matt Beleskey. Bels carried it in with Hampus trailing and teed it up for the young Swede with a perfect drop pass, dragging the defender with him as he left the puck and Hampus wristed it over Kinkaid's blocker. Beauty. 2-1 Ducks.
Two minutes and eight seconds later the Ducks struck again. After a heck of a lot of effort, skating circles around the New Jersey D Andrew Cogliano fed Jacob Silfverberg in front, similar to the first goal from Perry to Maroon except this time the puck found it's intended target and, Oooh, Ahhh it was Silfverberg's goal. 3-1 Ducks.
That was the end of the scoring for the middle frame, but the Ducks refused to let the Devils do anything of value for the entire 20 minutes. In fact, New Jersey only registered one shot on goal in the second period.
The beginning of the third was a different story. It was a story of score effects. After putting only six shots on goal for the first 40 minutes, the Devils doubled their total in the first five of the third period. And right on cue, Tom Sestito did what Tom Sestito does to try and turn the game around. Matt Beleskey leveled Peter Harrold with a gorgeous and clean hit, Sestito took offense and the two dropped the mitts. Beleskey took the worst of it, but for his part Sestito was given an extra two for instigating and a 10 minute misconduct on top of five for fighting.
The power play, especially the first unit, again looked good despite not capitalizing. Both Ryan Getzlaf and Vatanen had good plays driving right into the crease but to no avail.
Midway through the third, the Devils had their best chance to get back in the game with a massive scramble in the Ducks' crease. Bryz made the first save, the rebound hit Vatanen's skate and kicked out to Travis Zajac, but it was DSP to the rescue, diving into the crease for the block as Bryz was tangled up with Patrik Elias on the other side of the net. Elias took a couple of whacks from a prone position but with Bryz and three Ducks defenders on the ice, in the crease there wasn't much space for him to slip it through.
At that point it looked like it was going to be another nail biter as the Devils were coming on strong and only one shot away from making it a classic 2015 Ducks one goal game. That was remedied with 3:33 left, by a beautiful pass from Getzlaf to spring Maroon on a partial breakaway. Patty broke his 17 game goal drought with a snipe over the glove of Kinkaid to effectively seal the game for Anaheim. 4-1 Ducks
... But that's not all. Just over a minute later, Jon Merrill took a delay of game penalty for clearing the puck over the glass and Silfverberg ripped one of his own into the top shelf to close out the scoring. 5-1 Ducks Win.
The Good: This game was great overall for the Ducks and pretty terrible for the Devils, but the most important thing from an Anaheim perspective is that they didn't let New Jersey back in the game as they have so often this season. It wasn't just another one goal win. They went into the third with a two goal lead and expanded it. Even the power play looked pretty good, going 1-for-3.
The Bad: Nope.... nothin'
The Ugly: Come on Bryz.... That wouldn't have even been a shot on goal if it didn't go in.
Next Game: Saturday January 17th at 7:00 PST at Los Angeles (note: the Kings will be retiring Rob Blake's jersey, so expect a delayed puck drop.)