Final Score: Ducks 2, Avalanche 4
Ryan Getzlaf was rested for this one, giving him a full week between games, by the time he'll play again. Patrick Maroon was also out of the lineup while feeling under the weather, but something tells me if this game meant anything at all he would be right back in there. As such Chris Wagner remained in the lineup, Stefan Noesen made his NHL debut and Corey Perry started on a line with Rickard Rakell and Jiri Sekac. Also, Patrick Roy was sporting a tidy haircut/beard combo, I imagine Perry had something to say about it.
Within the first five minutes of the period the Jakob Silfverberg, Nate Thompson, Andrew Cogliano line picked up where they left off from Wednesday and Silf hit the cross bar behind Reto Berra. At the other end of the ice Alex Tanguay (yes, he's still in the league) got behind Sami Vatanen, but lost control as he went to the backhand at the top of the crease, with a little help from the stick of the Vatman. On the next shift Colorado appeared to open the scoring, but the goal was waved off due to goalie interference against Jordan Caron. He was standing in the crease, but really made no significant contact of any kind with John Gibson. That was a terrible call that went the Ducks' way, without a doubt.
Colorado did open the scoring a minute or two later. Jerome Iginla carried the puck into the zone and Francois Beauchemin was caught between him and another Avalanche player on the wing, while Hampus Lindholm was positioned between Iginla and John Mitchell. Both Beauch and Lindholm backed away, allowing Iginla all kinds of time and space to enter the zone, once he got inside the faceoff circle he dished off to Mitchell who snapped it over Gibson. 1-0 Avs.
Fifty eight seconds later, Sekac responded for the Ducks. It was actually a counter attack, after Colorado had thrown a puck into traffic and caused some confusion in front of the Anaheim goal. The puck came to the blueline, Cakes stripped it from Tanguay, with help from Cam Fowler, and sprinted the other way on a partial breakaway. He deked to the forehand which put Berra down and out and slid it home on the backhand. 1-1 Tie.
Lindholm went off with just over seven and a half minutes remaining in the period for a completely unambiguous cross check against Matt Duchene. Colorado's power play had the puck in the zone for the majority of the two minutes, but were certainly more dangerous before being given the man advantage.
Rickard Rakell gave the Ducks their first lead of the game. Perry carried in behind the Colorado net and tried to change directions to come back to the near post as Berra protected against the wrap around, but Perry lost control of the puck and it fell right on Ricky's tape. He snapped it over Berra and just like that the Ricky Worm Cakes line was on the board. 2-1 Ducks.
With only 32 seconds left in the first, Colorado was caught with too many men on the ice to give the Ducks their first power play of the night. Berra gave a nasty rebound off of a semi-sharp angle shot from Vatanen to Kesler, but was able to recover and the penalty carried over into the second period for 88 seconds.
The Ducks didn't really get much out of the remaining power play time, despite spending most of it in the Avalanche zone. A few minutes after the kill Iginla sprung Duchene behind the Ducks D, but he couldn't really get a good scoring chance against Gibson due to the backcheck (more like a hook) of James Wisniewski.
On his next shift Wisniewski went awkwardly into the boards, all by himself and came up limping. He appeared to be having trouble putting weight on his left skate, but was stuck on the ice in the defensive zone. Eventually he made his way to the bench under some duress, but he didn't miss a shift.
Just past the halfway point of the game Sami Vatanen was sent to the box for an equally obvious cross check against Gabriel Landeskog. The Ducks killed the penalty with Colorado's best chance being a nice passing play that Duchene whiffed on, just below the faceoff dot.
With just under seven minutes left Corey Perry lost his cool with Cody McLeod behind the play, after the latter put a hit on the former as he released the puck, there was also some history earlier on the shift with McLeod giving a little bump to Perry off the faceoff. The two dropped their gloves and everyone else joined in. McLeod, Perry and Simon Despres were each given two minutes for roughing (technically Despres was considered the third man in). For some reason Iginla was not happy with the way the penalties shook out (presumably he wanted Perry off for five minutes instead of just two), but it was off to the kill again for the Ducks.
Gibson caught a lucky break as Nick Holden came in from behind the net and whipped a puck through Gibson's legs, but the angle was such that the puck shot right out the other side of the crease. And the Ducks survived Colorado's best man advantage of the game. But it was back to the kill only a minute or so later, as Wiz lost his stick and proceeded to work Duchene over. To his credit, Duchene never bowed to the pressure, just held on to the puck and kept taking the abuse until he was hauled down and the whistle finally blew. The call eventually was listed as holding, but it could have been roughing or elbowing or any number of other things.
Finally the constant penalties took their toll on the Ducks. Tanguay made a really nice pass to Landeskog right in the slot. Gibson went down and was sliding a little bit to his left while a pretty wrist shot went over his right shoulder. 2-2 Tie.
Ryan Kesler had two glorious chances to regain the lead in the final 25 seconds. Palmieri threw it into the slot with Kesler streaming in, but he fanned on it, actually it came through to Fowler who may have had some net to shoot at if he was ready to one time it, but he wasn't. Only a few seconds later Kesler connected with a shot in the slot on a similar looking play, but Berra got his right pad on it just in time. Great save, but Kesler was upset that he didn't elevate it just a few inches more, and the period finished tied at twos.
Side note: I don't know what kind bet Freddy Andersen lost to Corey Perry, but as we went to intermission we got a little clip of his waterboy duties while he backed up Gibson tonight.
Rumor has it, that his mamma said Foosball's the Devil. In any case he seemed happy with his performance:
Landeskog got his revenge on Vatanen for the cross check he received from the Finnish defenseman early in the third period with one hell of a clean hit. Say what you want about the Avalanche but they have some really fun players to watch. Landeskog is chief among them, what a guy.
Ever since the Perry/McLeod skirmish, Iginla had been making his frustration with all of the Ducks and officials on the ice well known. That only increased when he was called for holding Noesen early in the third period. The PP wasn't dangerous until about the last 15 seconds or so, Sekac had a good redirection that went just wide and Wiz got to the front of the net, causing some issues, but nobody could really get a clean shot to take advantage of the chaos.
After the kill, the Ducks had a couple of great chances from the slot, first was Kesler (again) this time he didn't get everything on it due to some good defending, and a shift or two later, Noesen was set up by Etem. It may have been the best stretch offensively for the Ducks in the game, but the quick strike ability of the Avalanche came into play. Duchene sprung on the counter, Vatanen tried to tangle him up with the stick on the backcheck, but he slid it five hole on Gibson anyway. Remember what I just said about fun guys to watch on the Avs? Duchene is very much on the list as well. 3-2 Avs.
Reto Berra continued to cough up rebounds left and right, while the Avs waited for their chances on the counter. Duchene had a nearly perfect shot on a 2-on-1, but Gibson just got his shoulder on it. A short while after that, Brad Stuart was called for kneeing Kesler, giving the Ducks their third power play of the game. The Ducks had trouble entering the zone on the Avs throughout the advantage and when they got shots, they still were unable to get to the copious rebounds that Berra offered.
Bruce Boudreau pulled Gibson with over a minute and a half left, but Dennis Everberg closed it out with an empty netter. 4-2 Avs.
The Good: Anaheim pretty much dominated this game, especially from the second period on, with a shot advantage of 26-11 in the final 40 minutes, but just couldn't capitalize as needed.
The Bad: Going hand in hand with that good point, the only reason the Ducks lost this game was missed opportunities. You could see it all over Ryan Kesler's face all night, it just wasn't going their way tonight for whatever reason.
The Ugly: It turned out to be fine, but very scary when Wisniewski was hobbling around the defensive zone in the second period of an almost entirely meaningless game a week and a half before the playoffs start.
3rd Icehole: Ryan Kesler - he was actually good, but as a proxy for all the Ducks players who couldn't put away rebound upon rebound against Berra tonight.
2nd Icehole: Gabe Landeskog - Beauty of a goal, beauty of a hit. He's like a more polite version of Peter Forsberg.
1st Icehole: Matt Duchene - Goal and an assist, the quintessential Avalanche player of this era, just lethal on the counter attack.
Next Game: Wednesday, April 8, 7pm Fan Appreciation Night at Honda Center vs. the Dallas Stars