Sometimes all it takes is a strong start.
Thanks to goals from Shawn Horcoff and Mike Santorelli in the opening six minutes, the Anaheim Ducks rode a strong first period effort through for their fourth straight preseason win 3-0 over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night at Honda Center.
The Ducks dominated the opening 20 minutes, outshooting Colorado by an 18-6 margin and controlling the puck for the vast majority of the period. Anaheim kept the Avalanche on their heels for much of the second period as well, out-attempting the visitors by a 42-19 margin with just over six and a half minutes remaining in the middle frame. Starter John Gibson was called upon to make 14 of his 20 saves in the period, leaving the game after the second due to illness.
Horcoff and his linemates Patrick Maroon and Tim Jackman were amongst the Ducks best at generating offense in the early going, seeming to feed on the early goal. Hampus Lindholm teed up Kevin Bieksa for a slapper from the top of the near circle that Semyon Varlamov couldn't corral, with Horcoff able to kick the rebound to his stick and crack it home just 3:10 in to the game.
It took just 1:49 for Anaheim to double their edge, as Lindholm sprung Nick Ritchie for a break in up the far wing. Ritchie shot for a rebound, slapping it hard and low to Varlamov's glove side and getting it to kick out to the near circle. Santorelli was there to pounce, firing the puck five hole and having just enough juice to skip through and deflect in off the inside of Varlamov's back skate.
Carl Hagelin made his first appearance in the Orange, Gold and Black skating with Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Stewart, as the top line ended up with three of the top four forwards in shot differential. Though still clearly getting used to his teammates, the Swede had a couple nice moments creating and taking chances. He was rewarded with the empty-netter as Getzlaf swiped the puck over to him on a two-on-one to seal the scoreline.
Anton Khudobin replaced Gibson for the third period, making 11 saves to continue his fine preseason form. After the 60 minutes concluded the teams played a league mandated three-on-three overtime session, with the Ducks dominant and drawing a power play over the first three minutes of extra time. Colorado scored in their only ~20 seconds of zone time as Tyson Barrie's shot from the point was redirected in by Matt Duchene.
With the win Anaheim improved to 4-0-1 in exhibition play. They close preseason this Saturday at Honda Center against the San Jose Sharks at 6 PM.