Final Score: Ducks 3, Canadiens 1
First Period Recap:
The Ducks had the puck in the Habs' zone for much of the first five minutes, with the top three lines responsible for most of the good play. Patrick Maroon and Brandon Prust fought with no clear decision two minutes in.
They didn't get a great scoring chance, however, until five minutes in, when Jakob Silfverberg made a great pass from behind the net to Ryan Kesler. Carey Price made the save. About 70 seconds later, a very similar play occurred at the other end when Tomas Plekanec passed from behind the net to Alex Galchenyuk, whose shot was saved by John Gibson.
On the next shift, Hampus Lindholm used his skating and passing skills to exit the zone, where Kyle Palmieri took over and skated it into the Habs' zone. Once there, he made a slick backhand pass to the wheelhouse of Francois Beauchemin, who had been streaking up the right side. Beauch walked in and beat Price with a laser, low stick side, off the post and in for his fifth goal in eleven games. 1-0 Ducks.
A couple minutes later, the Habs played a dominant shift in the Ducks' zone, and Gibson was forced to turn away two dangerous one timers, one from Lars Eller and the other from Jacob de la Rose. After that, Josh Manson made a nice play in the D zone when he passed to Rickard Rakell near the slot instead of trying to "safely" shoot it out. Ten seconds later, Rakell found Silfverberg to the right of Price, who saved Silfverberg's close shot. Torrey Mitchell got his first good opportunity as a Hab on the next shift, but Gibson made the save.
With just under six and a half minutes to play, the Ducks caught Montreal on a bad change and Andrew Cogliano was able to use his speed to create a fast break. He wasn't quite all alone with Price, but he had a good angle. His wrist shot just missed the left post.
The Habs controlled most of the second half of the period, including a particularly good shift by Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher in which Paccioretty had one good opportunity turned away by Gibson. With just under three minutes to go, Cam Fowler was up past the Canadiens' blue line trying to join the attack when the puck turned over. Nobody was covering for him, so Simon Despres was left to deal with an impending two-on-one. Dale Weise made an early pass to Plekanec, who walked in toward Gibson. Despres' positioning made an attempted pass back to Weise unpalatable, so Plekanec shot stick side, and Gibson made the save.
A minute after that, Beauchemin received an offensive zone pass from Ryan Kesler, who had just received a nice pass from Cogliano, and Beauch shot one right into Price's glove. De la Rose won the ensuing face off and the Habs moved the puck up the ice, resulting in a pretty good opportunity for Eller, which Gibson blocked.
Second Period Recap:
Nate Thompson skated in on the right wing a couple minutes in and shot on Price, who kicked the rebound out to Cogliano on the left wing. Cogliano had part of the net to shoot at, but fanned on the shot. Two minutes after that, Ryan Kesler went to the box after slashing the stick out of David Desharnais' hand. The Habs' most dangerous power play chance came early off the stick of P.K. Subban, who sent a powerful one-timer from the left point into Gibson's glove. Manson made a good penalty killing pass to Thompson, again making the smart play instead of the go-to panic play.
Less than a minute after Kesler left the box, Beauchemin took an interference penalty. Silfverberg went one on one against Andrei Markov shorthanded and took a shot that Price had to be sharp to stop. Then Cogliano hounded Subban behind his own net and forced a turnover. In short, a phenomenal penalty kill. When it expired, Perry passed to Beauchemin for the breakaway, and Frankie walked in all alone on Price and shot low stick side, the same spot where he had scored in the first period. Price made the save. A minute later, Mitchell got another good shot on Gibson, who made another good save.
On the next shift, Jiri Sekac got on top of Subban on the forecheck, forcing him to move it quicker than he would have liked, and Rakell was able to steal the puck. Rakell then passed back to Hampus Lindholm at the point, who shot it. Price made the save but Rakell potted the rebound after a moment of net front chaos between him and Sekac. 2-0 Ducks.
With seven and a half to go, Ryan Getzlaf walked into the zone and found Corey Perry with a nice pass, but Perry's shot missed. Just over a minute later, Fowler passed to Tomas Fleishmann who one-timed it from the right circle, but missed the net. Two minutes after that, Sekac made a nice pass to Maroon, who shot low and either barely missed or barely made Price get a pad on it.
With just over three minutes left, Clayton Stoner rimmed the puck around the boards and it came to Gallagher in the neutral zone. Gallagher passed up to Desharnais, who skated up the right wing three-on-two with Markov and Pacioretty against Stoner and Fowler. Desharnais passed to Markov in the high slot. He took the shot, and Gibson made a good save. Less than a minute after that, Montreal gave the Ducks their first power play of the night by icing six men at the same time. Devante Smith-Pelly served the penalty, but the two minutes began with a nice shorthanded rush by de la Rose, who ultimately did not get a great shot off but killed valuable time. The best opportunity came half a minute later when Pacioretty pushed the puck past Lindholm at the Montreal blue line and went in all alone on Gibson. He shot high blocker side, and the rookie came up huge. The rest of the power play was relatively uneventful, and it expired, as did the period, without either team creating a dangerous scoring chance.
Third Period Recap:
The big line finally had a really good shift. Getzlaf had the puck on a string and made four or five good offensive zone passes, including two that resulted in great scoring chances, but Price made two good saves, first on Kyle Palmieri and then on Perry. On the next shift, Thompson got a point-blank opportunity but Price turned him away.
In the eighth minute of the period, Montreal flat out dominated, and only multiple saves by Gibson kept them off the scoreboard. Gallagher in particular generated offense. After that, the game slowed a little and went a while without a scoring chance. Just past the halfway mark of the period, Simon Despres skated with the puck in the neutral zone and looked good doing it. He was solid all game long without really doing anything exceptional or memorable.
Ryan Getzlaf blocked a Markov shot and hobbled over to the locker room, where he thankfully only stayed for a couple of minutes before getting back on the ice. While he was in the room, Thompson went one-on-one against Markov, who blocked his shot into the netting above the glass. Just over a minute later, Alex Galchenyuk made a nice move in the blue paint, but couldn't get his shot off.
With three minutes to go, Gallagher burst into the Ducks' zone and passed to Plekanec who released a hard shot that bounced off of Gibson. Lindholm picked up the puck right next to the crease and skated coast to coast before firing on Price, who also made the save.
A minute after that, Stoner backhanded the puck over the glass from his own zone and consequently sat for two minutes. Kesler won the opening faceoff of the penalty kill and sent the puck right to Fowler, who flung it down the ice and right into the empty net. 3-0 Ducks.
The Habs were still on the power play when Markov carried the puck up the left side, faked a slap shot, and passed the puck into the crease, where it bounced off Galchenyuk and into the net, breaking Gibson's shutout with less than two minutes on the clock. 3-1 Ducks.
The Habs pulled Price again and got a few decent chances, including one by Smith-Pelly with eleven seconds to play, but could not convert.
The Good: The second period was a thing of beauty from start to finish. The Ducks killed two penalties and looked good doing it, doubled their lead, and dominated the even strength possession game. All four lines and all three pairings did some good things.
The Bad: Aside from one shift early in the third, the top line was largely ineffective. While it is very encouraging to see this team win on the strength of secondary scoring, we all know that Getzlaf and Perry have to score if we're going to watch more than five or six playoff games.
The Ugly: Surprise surprise, the power play was awful. They only went 0 for 1, which isn't anything tragic, but it's part of a huge trend. Even with Sami Vatanen and James Wisniewski out, this team has far too much talent not to cash in on the man advantage. The Ducks are going to need some kind of an edge on superior teams if they hope to go far this spring, and a successful power play would go a long way toward providing that edge.
Next Game: Friday March 6, 7:00pm PST vs Pittsburgh Penguins