Final Score: Ducks 3, Islanders 2
John Tavares had the first glorious chance of the game about five minutes in, but just missed his one timer from short range with half a net to shoot at. The first half of the period flew by with few whistles. The Getzlaf line, with Jiri Sekac alongside, had a good early shift and nearly got Cakes a goal in front. But it was Rickard Rakell to open the scoring.
Ricky, Patrick Maroon and Jakob Silfverberg had a couple of really great offensive zone shifts (to the surprise of nobody with shot attempt knowledge). Ricky's first shot was kicked to the corner by Michal Neuverth, and when he tried to throw it back into the crease for Maroon, Nick Leddy deflected it past his own goalie. 1-0 Ducks.
On the very next shift Tyler Kennedy got a great pass from behind the net and had all kinds of time to shoot, but Frederik Andersen gave him nothing to shoot at. Other than that, the Ducks pretty much did whatever they wanted in the offensive zone for about seven to ten minutes, with especially impressive shifts by Rakell's line and the top line.
However, the Islanders tied it back up with just under three minutes remaining. Former Duck, Lubomir Visnovsky took a point shot that deflected off of Simon Despres' skate right in front of Freddy for the goal. 1-1 tie, both on own goals.
As impressive as the Ducks were at holding the offensive zone through the middle of the period, they were guilty of a number of terrible defensive zone turnovers in the last five minutes that allowed the Islanders some purchase in the game.
Right off the bat,only 1:46 into the period, Kyle Palmieri (The Mid-Atlantic Assassin s/t Ben Lovejoy) regained the lead for Anaheim. Matt Beleskey got the puck high in the zone and just sort of flung it toward the net, not really a pass not really a shot, and once again Leddy was his own worst enemy, deflecting it across the crease into an empty area. Palms was in front of the net screening Neuverth dove across, twisting his upper body to tap it around the goalie. 2-1 Ducks.
The Islanders started to turn on the heat in the Ducks' zone after the goal. Freddy had to make a couple of good saves thorough traffic and a great blocker save on a one timer. All of that pressure though, resulted in the first penalty of the game, when Maroon went off for roughing Brock Nelson. The Islanders PP didn't get any shots on goal, but once back to full strength Casey Cizikas went on a breakaway. He went to the backhand at the top of the crease and lost control, partially due to a little tap on the hands from the backcheck of James Wisniewski.
Two minutes after the kill Beleskey tripped Tavares for another Islanders power play which became a 5-on-3 when Cam Fowler cleared the puck over the glass only six seconds later. The Isles completely dominated the two man advantage, but Freddy absolutely ROBBED them on back-to-back highlight reel saves. First Tavares seemed to have him down and out, but Freddy dove forward to get his glove on it. Tavares got to the rebound to feed it back across the slot to Ryan Strome and Andersen somehow got all the way across to stop it with his right pad. He even covered it to get a change for his penalty killers. AMAZING sequence for Freddy.
Before that 5-on-3 was over, Tavares had another chance but it was similar to Kennedy's in the first, where he had time but nothing to shoot at because Andersen was a brick wall. And after the kill he made another good save as well.
The Islanders had everything going their way but nothing in the net at this point, and then Andrew Cogliano scored against the run of play. Johnny Boychuck got knocked down in the neutral zone to let Cogs in on a partial break. When he got to the top of the crease, Neuverth attempted the poke check and missed so Cogs could tip it around him on the backhand. 3-1 Ducks.
Francois Beauchemin took another puck over the glass penalty at the end of the period. Once again the Isles were in complete control, but only got one shot on net and the fans started to turn on them a little bit.
The Islanders continued where they left off in terms of controlling the play to start the third, but the Ducks gave a little bit of push back around the five minute mark for about the next five minutes. After the midway point of the period, the Ducks began to sit back into a defensive shell.
Silfverberg had a chance to put it away with a partial breakaway but it was at the end of a long shift and Neuverth came out to take away his angles for an easy save. On the next shift, Cizikas drew the Islanders back within one. Sami Vatnanen bobbled the puck at the blueline but was able to keep body position on Matt Martin and force the play into the corner, but when he laid the puck off to Clayton Stoner behind the net, Stoner set up Cizikas with a perfect pass and he scored short side on an unsuspecting Andersen. 3-2 Ducks.
Peter Laviolette pulled Neuverth with about a minute and a half left, but was forced to put him back in net twice due to defensive zone faceoffs, including an icing. Ryan Kesler had a shot at the empty net but it was blocked and the Ducks clinched a playoff spot with a 3-2 win.
The Good: Freddy is back. The goalie controversy is dead, or at least it should be. Then again, it never really should have existed in the first place.
The Bad: Like any positive for the Ducks this season, it comes with a caveat. While Freddy was awesome, there were just wayyyyyyyy too many turnovers in the defensive zone that forced his awesomeness.
The Ugly: Deja vu. Clayton Stoner with a moronic play that led directly to a goal against.
3rd MVD: Ryan Kesler - did a good job to keep Tavares off the board. The NHL's second leading scorer had chances, but most were on the power play.
2nd MVD: Rickard Rakell - his goal was a bit of a fluke, but that line with Maroon and Silf was just doing magic in the offensive zone, especially in the first period.
1st MVD: FREDY!!!!!!!!
Next Game: Tomorrow at New Jersey 4pm PDT