Final Score: Anaheim Ducks 1, New York Rangers 4
First Period Summary: The game started late for those of us watching at home as the Boston-Pittsburgh game went into a brief overtime, so the television feed cut into the game a little less than two minutes in. However in that time, Sami Vatanen bailed out his team early by blocking a Rick Nash scoring chance in which he had a wide open goal to shoot at.
Despite pre-game quotes saying the team needed to come out hard and play well right from the get go (ho hum just like every other game now days amirite?), the Ducks appeared to be anything but ready, getting dominated for the first several shifts of the game.
The period did balance out however, and Anaheim did get a few good chances of their own.
Rickard Rakell got a pretty good scoring chance in the early going denied by Henrik Lundqvist, something that happened a lot more throughout the night to a lot of other guys in black too.
The Ducks did get the first power play of the game, but it lasted only 30 seconds before Ryan Getzlaf was sent off for a pretty ticky-tack interference call. Yes, it was a penalty, but he certainly didn't get his money's worth.
The Ducks controlled the four-on-four for the most part, but neither team scored and the Ducks killed the 30 second New York power play that ensued as well.
Other than that not too much else happened in the first frame. While New York appeared to be getting the better results offensively in terms of shots, Anaheim led the shot attempts through one period, and, despite what the broadcast team on NBC was saying, looked like the slightly better team through the opening 20.
The Ducks and Rangers went to the locker room scoreless, but New York outshot the Ducks 11-8.
Second Period Summary: This period started decently for Anaheim as well, but New York got back to their guns and started heaping the pressure on Anaheim in the Ducks defensive end, and it started turning results. The Rangers got arguably the two best scoring chances of the period, both off defensive-zone turnovers from Anaheim. Nate Thompson was guilty early, and got bailed out by his goaltender, Ilya Bryzgalov. The second came late in the period when Sami Vatanen gave a puck away which Bryzgalov was alert to stop from point-blank range.
The only good chance for the Ducks in the period came when a neutral-zone turnover fell onto the stick of Corey Perry. However Derek Steppan did well to recover and forced a hurried shot from both distance and an angle which Henrik Lundqvist was able to steer aside.
New York scored the only goal of the frame on a delayed penalty. The Rangers did well to retain control of the puck and moved it from their own end of the ice up to the Anaheim zone with six attackers. They overloaded the left side of the ice before Derick Brassard found a seam inside the right circle where he ripped a one-timer between the legs of Bryzgalov to put the Rangers up 1-0.
And things didn't get much better from there.
After a brief push back, New York seized control of the period and momentum before the period ended, sending the Ducks to the locker room down 1-0, being outshot, still appearing to have the better of the play somewhat, but getting virtually no offensive flow going. Shades of the New Years Eve loss all over again.
Third Period Summary: With the Ducks down a goal and needing some of that familiar magic to pull off yet another win from behind, the Ducks would need to come out strong and ramp up the pressure to beat Henrik Lundqvist, who had been solid the entire night on what shots had actually made it his way.
So, naturally, the Ducks played what may be their worst 20 minutes of the season thus far.
Not even three minutes into the period, Sami Vatanen threw a puck blindly right through the middle of his own slot onto the stick of Kevin Klien, who ripped a shot that Rick Nash tipped off Bryzgalov's shoulder and into the net to put the Rangers up 2-0. Stop me if you've heard this before, but an ugly defensive zone turnover costs the Ducks and put a really dour outlook on the rest of the period.
And it didn't get much better.
Anaheim tried to push back, but got very little in the way of shots on goal due to some stellar work from the New York defense, who blocked what felt like everything the entire night. Shift after shift and rush after rush went up ice and either failed to get over the blue line with possession at all, or went for nothing due to a blocked shot, picked off pass, or stolen puck.
After failing to even record a shot on goal in their second power play on the night, Anaheim did get one ounce of light by scoring on their third.
Just 10 seconds into the man-advantage, Francois Beauchemin ripped a slapper from the blue line that snuck past the high screen of Mats Zucarello and beat Lundqvist over the right shoulder. Anaheim was on the board and back within one.
The shift that ensued was pretty good too, and the Ducks build a sizeable lead in shot attempts but couldn't quite sneak another shot past Lundqvist, who had to make a few pretty good saves.
But that was it. New York got the game back under control and everything fell apart for Anaheim.
For a stretch of over eight minutes following that shift, Anaheim failed to register a single shot on goal, barely even registering any attempts, as New York dominated to close out the game.
With five minutes and change remaining, Zucarello put New York back ahead by two after a questionable icing call against Anaheim. The puck appeared to cross right into the New York crease after a funny bounce and despite Lundqvist swatting it away from oncoming pressure, the linesman still blew the play dead, saying the defenseman would have won the race... to a puck the goalie touched, which should have negated the infraction. Nonetheless, off the ensuing faceoff Francois Beauchemin carelessly threw the puck up the boards right to the waiting stick of Zucarello, who stepped off the boards and unleashed an uncontested shot that blew past Bryzgalov high short side to widen the lead back to two.
Anaheim appeared to lose all interest in playing this game at all at this point.
Even their late-game push was pretty pathetic, as Dominic Moore put the puck into the empty net to seal the loss and bring the score to 4-1 not 15 seconds after Boudreau took Bryzgalov off the ice to try to spark some momentum with the extra man.
Didn't matter the damage was done. Ducks lose a pretty embarrassing one at home 4-1.
The Good: The power play did score... technically, so I guess I have to credit them for that here since that is something they've struggled to do. And Ilya Bryzgalov looked pretty good in his first start in quite some time. He never appeared to be really flustered by anything he shouldn't have been, and his positioning and form were solid. In fact he even bailed his defense out a few times, including making a huge save from point blank range after a Sami Vatanen turnover.
The Bad: Much like it looked at about this same time last year, it really feels like the rest of the NHL has figured Anaheim out, and it's led to the defense getting victimized and the offense getting stifled. Anaheim's power play was once again completely inept except for one shot on goal from Francois Beauchemin finding the back of the net (the Ducks lone power play shot in the entire game, mind you). The offense had very little momentum the entire night and pretty much surrendered it seconds after obtaining it on multiple occasions. Meanwhile on the other end New York countered with a ton of odd-man rushes and put massive pressure on the Anaheim defense who just looked flat-out overworked in much the same way it looked like San Jose did back on New Years Eve, and Toronto did just weeks ago. Last year these games signaled the start of an ugly slide for the Ducks right around this same point in the season, one that Anaheim never really recovered from, and it looks an awful lot like it might be headed that way again.
The Ugly: When down by a goal entering the second period and needing to have one of the all-out-effort periods we have seen them play so many times this season, Anaheim played arguably its worst 20 minute period of this entire season, surrendering three goals and getting outshot 11-7. The Ducks did not register a shot on goal for over 8 minutes following their one decent shift after pulling themselves back within one. That type of effort is just abysmal. I'll leave it at that.
3rd Icehole: Francois Beauchemin was pretty brutal tonight. As was his partner Hampus Lindholm. These guys struggled the entire night with the Rangers forecheck and turned the puck over a lot, including one that led to the ultimately back-breaking goal. They succumbed to the pressure far too easily and made it really difficult for the forwards to have any time with the puck at all. Yeah I know Beau scored, but this pairing was so poor tonight that wasn't enough to make up for it. (Sidenote: the Vatanen-Clayton Stoner pairing was not a whole lot better).
2nd Icehole: What happened to the offensive depth? The only names from our forwards I can remember hearing all night were Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell. The rest of the team was virtually invisible, particularly in that third period. It certainly looked like everyone went home early, and the fans were happy to follow suit after New York put the game out of reach.
1st Icehole: The New York defense was fire. They finished the game with 19 blocked shots but it felt like 50 with how frustrated the Ducks were getting. Very little saw Henrik Lundqvist at all, and when they got control of the puck, it was darn close to impossible to prevent it from leaving the zone, something the Ducks managed only a few times tonight. Combine that with a forecheck that exploited what continues to be this team's biggest weakness (indecisive play with the puck in its own end from its defense) and you have a night that's going to sting for a while as this one was not really close. One team was clearly better and it wasn't Anaheim.
Next Game: Sunday, December 11th vs the Winnipeg Jets
AKA TEEMU NIGHT!!!