A suitable bounce-back effort for the Anaheim Ducks as they opened this stretch of seven home games in eight with a resounding thumping of Calgary thanks to a monstrous night from the first line and a pair of franchise record performances.
Ducks: Tuesday, 11/24 vs Calgary. "First Line Roars To Life As Ducks Dispatch Flames 5-3"
Coyotes: Saturday, 11/21 at Winnipeg. "Coyotes Get A Taste Of Their Own Medicine"
For an Anaheim side that has been consistently in the bottom of the league for goal-scoring, last night was a sight for sore eyes with Ryan Getzlaf tying the franchise record for both points and assists in a game with five helpers, while both Corey Perry and Rickard Rakell had a pair of goals. Perry's three point night (he had an assist as well) was the second such performance of the season, having dished three assists in the 4-2 win over Columbus on November 6. Rakell had his third multi-point night of the season, with two assists in the overtime loss to Edmonton on November 11 and a goal and assist in the win over Nashville on November 1. Since being put together on the top line on November 11 the trio has nine goals and 13 assists combined over the seven games, with Getzlaf putting up a goal and eight assists, Perry putting up five goals and two assists, Rakell three goals and three assists.
While on the backend Cam Fowler got deserved plaudits for his duo of dimes to move into a second place tie for defenseman assists in franchise history, Sami Vatanen had a pair of assists as well to jump to third on the team in scoring (four goals, seven assists). Also, don't look now (ARCHAIC STAT ALERT) but Vatanen and partner Clayton Stoner are first and tied for second on the team in plus/minus, with Vatanen's +2 tops and Stoner's +1 level with Getzlaf and Shawn Horcoff, amongst players who've appeared in more than half the team's games.
Goaltending will be a question point for the Ducks tonight, as Boudreau refused to name John Gibson the starter in his Calgary postgame comments with the flu-like status of Frederik Andersen in question. Anton Khudobin has had an up-and-down start to the season, with as as many appearances with a .900+ save percentage as below (four apiece), but has not had sub-.900 SV% outings back to back. He started against Arizona on October 14 in his regular season Ducks debut and was yanked after giving up three goals on eight shots. Meanwhile Gibson earned his first NHL win in relief against the Flames since a 26-save road W at New Jersey on March 29 of last season. Prior to his call up from San Diego, Gibson had seen the second-most minutes in the AHL (774:43) and faced the toughest workload at 408 shots against, making a league-high 374 saves for a .917 SV%.
A four-game road trip did Arizona no favors, as the Coyotes dropped three of four but managed to knock off the Eastern Conference leading Montreal Canadiens for the lone win. Aside from that it was a pair of 5-2 losses in Columbus and to the Islanders, before dropping the 3-2 decision to Winnipeg on November 21. While rookie sensation Max Domi has cooled slightly, Anthony Duclair stepped up in his stead with a goal and four assists over the road trip. Still, Domi's eight goals are a team-high, and his 16 points trail only Martin Hanzal (so hot right now) who leads the team with 14 assists and 18 points.
Play between the pipes has become an issue, as both starter Mike Smith and backup Anders Lindback have seen their save percentages dip below the .910 mark. Smith has either been quite good, or remarkably poor, with nearly as many appearances with a better than-.950 SV% (4) as sub-.850 SV% (5). He earned his only shutout of the season against the Ducks on October 14, turning aside 37 shots. Lindback dropped both his starts on the road trip, but picked up the overtime win against Anaheim on November 9 (his most recent victory) by making 33 stops.
Two hours before face off we'll have the game thread up, featuring the full Stat Pack, likely with expected lines, and of course your Numbers For Nerds.