In what could be John Gibson's last start before the return of Frederik Andersen, the Anaheim Ducks played a complete game and shut out the Vancouver Canucks. Nick Ritchie earned his first NHL point and Jakob Silfverberg scored a non-shootout goal.
Worst: Third Period Offensive Zone Penalties
There wasn't a whole lot to critique on the Ducks part, but they did have to kill off a double-minor penalty in the third period caused by Chris Stewart being careless with his stick in the Canucks end. Since the penalty kill is No. 1 in the league the penalty wasn't costly, but the Ducks don't want to make a habit of relying on their penalty kill. Had the Canucks scored it could have given them life in the third and allowed for a comeback attempt, much like Ryan Getzlaf's late-game penalty against Chicago in the last game.
Best: Special Teams Heating Up
Anaheim went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and 1-for-3 on the power play capitalizing at the end of the first period. While the power play goal was not the prettiest play it at least gives the team some confidence going forward. The penalty kill continued to do work against an almost top 10 Canucks power play (ranked 11th in the NHL prior to the start of the game). Even during the four minute double minor penalty in the third period the penalty kill never looked like it was in trouble.
Worst: Impending Line Mixes
With Nate Thompson and Jiri Sekac close to returning from injury this team is going to see a few more changes. Will Patrick Maroon be the odd man out on the fourth line once Thompson's return moves Mike Santorelli to the wing? (Likely) If Sekac comes back will Ritchie be sent back to San Diego? (Probably) Once Andersen returns (maybe against the Lightning but probably Friday versus San Jose) will Gibson be sent down to the AHL again or will we risk losing Anton Khudobin to waivers, and wasting the James Wisniewski trade which has already looked bad? (I hope not)
Best: Consistent Play Throughout a Game
For the first time in a while, the Ducks pressured while holding a lead. Recently the Ducks had been sitting back in the second and third period when they had a lead (or even when tied) after the first period. Nobody scored in the second period, and that is a positive for the team with a differential of minus 21 in the middle frame. The Ducks finally put a team away in the third period, too. Silfverberg's goal a minute into the third basically put the game away for the Ducks, but the team continued to play offense which was nice to see.
3) Rickard Rakell
I noticed Rakell a lot, especially in the neutral zone where he was able to make some clean controlled zone entries. He has filled in nicely on the top line with Getzlaf and Perry. Hopefully he continues to play with them even after Sekac and Thompson return from injury.
2) Nick Ritchie
This was the best game that Ritchie has had since being called up from San Diego. He earned his first NHL point with a nice assist on the Silfverberg goal and was really physical on the ice. He led the team with 4 hits (tied with Rakell and Stoner) but was never really left out of position to by doing so.
1) John Gibson (official 1st star of the game)
This was Gibson's third career shutout (regular season). I don't think the Canucks have ever scored against Gibson which is pretty cool. He made 25 saves and looked comfortable in the net. He may be returning to San Diego once Andersen is healthy, but it won't be because he played poorly.