Final Score: Ducks 2, Panthers 6
First Period Recap:
The first three and a half minutes were so uneventful that the most dangerous chance was a Clayton Stoner wrist shot from the point that only had a chance because Patrick Maroon was parked in front, and it went wide anyway. Just before the four-minute mark, Corey Perry tripped Dmitri Kulikov and put the Cats on the power play. Kulikov made the Ducks pay by scoring on his second dangerous-looking one-timer of the man advantage on a hard point shot that beat Ilya Bryzgalov high stick side. 1-0 Panthers.
A little more than a minute later, Tim Jackman and Shawn Thornton earned five for fighting with a lengthy tussle that started in the Panthers' zone and ended up near the far bench. Thornton ultimately got the better of the Ducks' enforcer.
Halfway through the period, Matt Beleskey took an offensive zone penalty by hooking Tomas Fleischmann. Half a minute later, Devante Smith-Pelly stepped onto the ice and made a play against the puck carrier before Ryan Getzlaf had completely left the ice, and the Ducks went down another man for having too many. Aaron Ekblad overpassed a couple of opportunities on the ensuing five-on-three. After Beleskey's penalty expired, Jimmy Hayes made a great play in front to tip the puck toward Nick Bjugstad, who shot the puck between Bryzgalov's legs. 2-0 Panthers.
About a minute and a half after doubling their lead, the Cats almost added another one when Jonathan Huberdeau passed the puck from behind the net to Thornton, who was unable to find the twine. Throughout most of this period, the Panthers had the better of the play. Almost three minutes later, Eric Brewer skated the puck into the offensive zone and passed to Perry who dropped it for Getzlaf. Instead of shooting, the captain tried to make one more pass and the play died.
With two and a half minutes to go in the period, the second line gave the Ducks their best shift of the game up to that point, which isn't saying much. Kyle Palmieri made a pretty play behind the net to Ryan Kesler, and only a good save by Roberto Luongo kept him off the board. Later on the same shift, Palmieri threw it toward the net, followed his shot, and got a dangerous rebound chance that Luongo fought off. Seconds later, Erik Gudbranson hooked Kesler, giving the Ducks their first power play of the evening. During the man advantage, Getzlaf, Perry, Kesler, and Sami Vatanen were responsible for some good puck movement, but never made anything really dangerous happen until Rickard Rakell made a great pass to Getzlaf, moving the puck from Luongo's right to his left, but Getzlaf couldn't pick a corner and the Ducks went into the locker room trailing by two.
Second Period Recap:
Nothing momentous happened in the first five minutes, but the Panthers did seem to have a slight edge in play, led in part by some good decisions by Huberdeau, who made his best play just past five minutes into the period when he cleanly beat Ben Lovejoy in the neutral zone, walked to the top of the left circle, and fed Ekblad with a good pass. Ekblad, who should have been at least partially covered by Rakell but wasn't, fired a perfect slapshot over the right shoulder of Bryzgalov. 3-0 Panthers.
Twenty seconds later, the Panthers took two hooking penalties on the same shift: Steven Kampfer on Andrew Cogliano and Nick Bjugstad on Tim Jackman. Bruce Boudreau replaced Bryzgalov with John Gibson to start the five-on-three, giving the rookie his first NHL action since October. The first unit of Getzlaf, Perry, Kesler, Vatanen, and Maroon didn't do a whole lot, with their best chance coming off a severe angle shot by Perry. The second unit made up for it with a badly needed goal. Rakell walked out from behind the goal line to the left of Luongo and put a low shot on his pads. The rebound bounced right to Palmieri, who buried it without hesitation. 3-1 Panthers.
After the Panthers returned to even strength, they had possession more often than not. About five minutes later, the Ducks put the puck in the crease for long enough to create a large pileup in front of Luongo, but Huberdeau swept it away before the Ducks could score.
On the next shift, Brewer tried to hold in a clearing attempt that eventually got to the stick of Huberdeau, who passed it past Brewer to Brad Boyes in the neutral zone. Lovejoy was not right on Boyes, and as a result he had enough time and space to wait for the right moment to move the puck to Aleksander Barkov, who skated right by Thompson before putting a nice move on Gibson and beating him backhand. 4-1 Panthers.
Almost immediately after the subsequent faceoff, Gudbranson sent a long pass up to Fleischmann, who was behind Brewer before he was even at the Anaheim blue line. Fleischmann went two-on-one with David Bolland against Lovejoy and ultimately took the shot, which rebounded off Gibson and right onto Bolland's stick, who scored. 5-1 Panthers.
A minute later, Rakell put together a good rush that ended up with a pass to Vatanen that did not generate a good chance. Less than a minute after that, Jackman shot a backhander from just inside the red line that Luongo had no idea what to do with. Lucky, lucky, flukey, lucky goal. 5-2 Panthers.
On the next shift, Lovejoy grabbed the stick of Bergenheim and earned two minutes in the box for it. The Ducks killed it off, thanks in part to a good effort by Getzlaf and later Perry. After the penalty expired and with a couple of seconds left in the period, Kampfer sent a speedy one timer just wide.
Third Period Recap:
The first half of the period was just more of the Panthers taking advantage of the Ducks' sloppy positioning and careless plays. These included but were not limited to:
- A three-on-one in which Fleischmann set up Bolland for a good opportunity that Gibson saved
- A couple of neutral zone turnovers by Getzlaf
- Palmieri elbowing Ekblad's helmet off and earning a penalty
- A defensive turnover by Lovejoy that didn't end up a goal because of some overpassing by the Panthers
- A neutral zone turnover by Fowler that didn't end up a goal because Beauchemin blocked the subsequent passing play
- Maroon high sticking Kulikov and earning a double-minor
About eleven minutes in, Maroon high sticked Kulikov, good for four minutes in the box. Before the first minor expired, Gudbranson missed a point shot that caromed to Kampfer, whose shot rebounded to Jimmy Hayes, who scored the easy power play goal. 6-2 Panthers.
After the goal, but before the second minor expired, Francois Beauchemin earned an unsportsmanlike conduct and a game misconduct after apparently voicing some displeasure. This put the Cats back on the five-on-three, where they did not score again.
After the penalties expired, Brewer made a pretty good skating play to get through some of the Florida defense and put the puck off the post. For the next three minutes, Florida controlled the puck most of the time. With one minute to go in the game, Palmieri showed off some speed and put a shot into Luongo. Fifteen or so seconds later, Palmieri deflected a Stoner point shot off the post.
The Good: This game presented yet more evidence that this team needs an upgrade or two before the trade deadline if they are to contend for the Stanley Cup. It might just be a good thing that the losses are starting to come, because a slide right now could force Bob Murray's hand.
The Bad: Discipline, discipline, discipline. The Ducks surrendered no fewer than eight power play opportunities, and consequently they gave up three power play goals.
The Ugly: Minus Hampus Lindholm, this defense corps looks pretty ugly. Fowler and Vatanen are good, but they're not superstars and they can't carry this team on their own.
3rd Icehole: Florida's five-man attack — When the Panthers got possession in the offensive zone, they got their D involved and the results speak for themselves. Five of their six blueliners had at least a point tonight.
2nd Icehole: Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry — While they didn't play any worse than their teammates, they get more blame because they are expected to produce. When the game isn't going the way it's supposed to, you need your superstars to make big plays and turn it around, especially on the power play. Neither twin recorded a point tonight.
1st Icehole: Eric Brewer and Ben Lovejoy — This pairing was a disaster all night long. Florida scored all three of their even strength goals when both of these guys were on the ice, and each of those three goals was a lesson in how not to play defense at the NHL level.
Next Game: Ducks @ Carolina Hurricanes, Thursday February 12, 4:00 PM PST