Final Score: Ducks 4, Coyotes 1
Frederik Andersen was indeed back in net for the Ducks, and the new look lines and D-pairings started like this:
Kyle Palmieri - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Tomas Fleischmann (14) - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg
Jiri Sekac - Rickard Rakell - Emerson Etem
Patrick Maroon - Nate Thompson - Andrew Cogliano
Cam Fowler - Simon Despres (24)
Hampus Lindholm - Francois Beauchemin
Josh Manson - Clayton Stoner
Before the game was six minutes old the Coyotes already had two odd man opportunities. First was a 3-on-2 that ended up in a shot from further to the outside than you would expect, from Mark Arcobello. Then Sam Gagner couldn't direct a pass from Arcobello on net with a 2-on-1 from the blueline.
The first noticeable impact of Simon Despres was a neat little interplay with Cam Fowler on a breakout to Andrew Cogliano. The second impact from Despres, was a literal impact, stepping up at the blueline on Craig Cunningham.
Through the first half of the game the Ducks' plan appeared to be shoot from everywhere and look for rebounds. On a couple of occasions, including their first shot on goal produced a juicy one, but nobody was there to take care of it.
The first real good chance of the game came for the Coyotes with Ty McGinn chopping away at a rebound in front of Andersen, eventually resulting in the first power play of the game as Nate Thompson knocked him down with a cross check to the back.
However, the Ducks were the ones to take advantage. Despres started on the first PK unit and got a clear early on in the kill. As Arizona tried to reenter, Jakob Silfverberg intercepted and tipped the puck up to Ryan Kesler in neutral ice from there and put on a one man show working to the front of the net, jumping around Oliver Ekman-Larsson, drawing a delayed penalty but snapping it past Mike Smith shorthanded. 1-0 Ducks.
With about 2:30 left in the first, the Kesler, Fleischmann, Silfverberg line put together a nice little shift in the offensive zone. Fleischmann carried the puck to the side/front of the net a couple of times and got a nice pass to Kesler in the slot, but Michael Stone got his stick on Kesler's to deny the shot.
The period ended with the Ducks outshooting Arizona 14-11 and leading on the Kesler shorty.
In the first minute or two of the period, the Sekac-Rakell-Etem line was in on Smith very quickly on the forecheck. One where Sekac nearly cut off a pass from Smith right across his empty net. As the shift continued in the zone with the Ducks changing, Cogliano ripped one off the post. But shortly after that Martin Erat had a golden opportunity to the left of Freddy, didn't have the greatest of first touches, then shoveled a backhand toward what looked like an empty net but Andersen dove back to grab it.
Simon Despres wristed a high shot that was nowhere near on goal, but Cogliano got a nice tip on it in midair to redirect it back down and through a completely unsuspecting Mike Smith, who was trying to stay up to grab it, but ended up jumping out of the way of the puck. The play was reviewed for a high stick, but was quickly deemed inconclusive, likely due to the distance Cogs was from the net, and a good goal. 2-0 Ducks.
With 10:28 remaining, while Johnny and Hazy were wrapping up a phone conversation with Bob Murray (mid game), Tobias Rieder backhanded a shot toward Andersen that took just enough of a deflection off of the stick of Cam Fowler to elude the Danish goalie and draw the Coyotes within one. Freddy probably still could have had it. 2-1 Ducks.
Sekac showed off his speed after the Coyotes goal, burning past Stone from his own blueline to get to the front of the net but Smith stayed with him all the way to stop the shot from in tight.
One thing to notice about Despres is that his move seems to be hold the blueline at all costs. He does not back off much.
Just before the 15 minute mark of the period, Silfverberg was tripped and stripped of the puck by Kyle Chipchura, who sent a beauty of a stretch pass to Shane Doan for a short breakaway. But as Mike Smith was on Sekac, Andersen was all over Doan to smother the opportunity.
Only about a minute later Corey Perry got behind Ekman-Larsson took the shot which Smith dropped. Ekman-Larsson and Perry's momentum carried them both into the crease and Perry right over Smith. The puck ended up going under Smith into the net, but clearly the whistle had blown. The Coyotes didn't take too kindly to the contact with Smith, even though OEL had plenty to do with it and out of the scrum came the two captains who dropped the gloves. Doan may have landed one on Getzlaf, but it was mostly a wrestling match with the Arizona captain ending up on top. The result was just the two five minute majors for fighting, as it should have been.
Another high shot from Despres was fought off by Smith, but Patrick Maroon couldn't quite get the rebound on net.
Most of the shifts for the rest of the period finished with some extracurricular activities. With just a little bit more than two minutes in the period, one of said extracurricular meet ups resulted in Perry and Connor Murphy sitting for roughing penalties and some 4-on-4 action to finish the period.
The 4-on-4 was pretty uneventful but as it ended, Despres bobbled the puck in front of Andersen but was still able to get it up and out to Etem at the blueline, who forwarded it to Thompson for a 2-on-1 with Josh Manson, but Thompson's shot was taken rather easily by Smith. And that was the last excitement of the period that ended with the Ducks outshooting the Coyotes 25-22 and leading 2-1.
The first real action of the third period came about four minutes in with the top line starting a good pressure shift in the offensive zone. The Kesler line took over from there, and similar to one of their shifts in the first period Fleischmann carried the puck in down low on a couple of occasions and made a nifty little pass, this time to Silfverberg, who hit the base of the post and Kesler whiffed on the rebound.
Not long after that Silf ripped another one off the post, but this time scored a highlight reel goal on the rebound. The puck came to him in center ice for a two on one with Kesler. His initial shot absolutely tattooed the post, but as he followed it to the net, he gloved it down to his stick and tapped it past Mike Smith. Amazing display of skills. Ooh Ahh Silfverberg indeed! Plus an assist to Fleischmann. 3-1 Ducks.
Just past the midway point of the third, the teams traded chances. Depres slid to deny a cross ice pass from Erat, but he waited him out and got it in front to Chipcura, and Freddy was in good position to stop the bang, bang play. At the other end, Etem had Sekac going to the far post and he found him with a pass from the corner, but Sekac was on the backhand and kind of redirected it back into Smith for what looked like an outstanding save live, but a lot easier/luckier on the replay.
Kesler and Fleischmann went in on a 2-on-1 with about six minutes left. Kesler kept the puck for the low blocker shot but Smith made a nice reaction save.
With three and a half remaining Perry was called for boarding, when he attempted to hit Connor Murphy. Perry barely clipped Murphy on the shoulder, not from behind at all. The near side official was looking right at it and saw nothing wrong, but the referee two zones away disagreed, probably because from a distance it looked like Murphy's head went into the glass. Perry was not happy with that. Especially with the lack of pretty much anything being called all night, that was a tough one. A quarter of the way through the penalty Dave Tippett pulled Smith to make it a 6-on-4. Cogliano just missed the empty net on a full ice clear, but Silfverberg gathered it behind, waited for Cogs to join him and fed him for the shorthanded empty netter from the slot. 4-1 Ducks.
The Good: New Guys. Both Despres and Fleischmann recorded assists in their debut while relative Duck veteran Jiri Sekac was all over the ice (+14 SA/Corsi +/-), but couldn't find his way to the score sheet. Also going 2-for-2 on the kill with two shorthanded goals (including an empty netter) will do the trick on most nights.
The Bad: Mike Smith. Just because, we still haven't seen the train wreck Mike Smith we've heard so much about this season, and I was looking forward to that. He was pretty good, not great, but pretty good in stopping 32 of 35 shots he faced. Sure he looked a little silly on Cogliano's first goal, but it was coming at him head high and went in on the ice.
The Ugly: The only ugly I can come up with is that the Ducks gave up too many odd man opportunities. Nothing really came of them, but I'll chalk that up to the Coyotes executing like a 27th place team. Against better opposition, Anaheim needs to keep those chances down. I guess also zero power plays in the game kind of sucks too, but that's mostly a factor of the Refs refusing to call just about anything.
3rd MVD: Simon Despres - I may be biased because I was paying so much attention to him in this game (and hoping he'd be good to squeeze out Stoner) but whenever he got on the puck it seemed to be out of the zone very quickly. He plays a bit of a risky game at the bluelines, we'll see how that goes in the future. Even though he had a bad possession night, -6 shot attempt (corsi) differential at 5-on-5 (worst on the team), I liked what he was doing.
2nd MVD: Jiri Sekac - With Silfverberg racking up the points, someone had to fill the role of dangerous offensive force with a number of shots and opportunities but unable to put it away. That was Sekac tonight.
1st MVD: Jakob Silfverberg - a goal and two assists plus a shot off the post. Also, you can't beat that goal. Let's watch it again.
Next Game: Wednesday home to Montreal 7pm PST