Well, the Ducks lost in Pittsburgh—again.. At least this game was close!
The first period was surprisingly eventful. Early on, Antoine Vermette had the best scoring chance. After getting his original shot blocked, Vermette ripped a wrister off of Fleury’s shoulder and the crossbar. Soon after, Chris Wagner almost got his fist goal as a Duck. Sami Vatanen’s shot ricocheted off of Fleury and lay in the crease but it wasn’t meant to be. Still, it was great to see the fourth line get a chance.
However, Pittsburgh got on the board first. Ian Cole’s first goal in two seasons came on a weak wrist shot from the point. Bernier was unable to deal with the traffic in front and failed to pick up the release point.
Anaheim tied the score on a five on three power play. Fowler took a slapper from the circle to beat M.A. Fleury. It’s great to see Fowler shooting the puck more in all situations. Shots were 21-16 in favor of Pittsburgh at the end of the first.
So far this season, the Ducks have needed their goalies to be spectacular. Bernier was the opposite of that at the beginning of the second. A communication miscue with Fowler led directly to a scrum in the crease and an easy goal against. Things didn’t get much better after consecutive penalties by Ritchie and Getzlaf. Ritchie, in particular, needs to stop taking offensive zone penalties. After a few great saves by Bernier on the PK, Phil Kessel skated uncontested into a prime-shooting zone and gave his team a 3-1 lead. Manson got beat in the corner and the forward failed to drop down to support.
Corey Perry did Corey Perry things against Pittsburgh and cut the Penguins lead to 3-2. Getzlaf attempted his (now perfected) backhand shot off a faceoff and after a few lucky bounces, Perry got an easy rebound goal for his first of the year.
A bit of a side note: Bieksa, Vermette, and Ritchie were having loads of trouble on the power play tonight. As soon as the first unit got off, the Ducks’ man advantage was essentially over. None of the three can create offense by themselves and were pretty good at losing the puck immediately. The second finished with a 34-22 shots on goal advantage for Pittsburgh.
The game started to open up in the third. Both teams started to trade chances but both goalies were up to the task. Bernier made some stellar saves and seemed much more confident in net, but Fleury looked even stronger.
All in all, the Ducks lost to a superior team. Although Bernier looked shaky in the first half of the game, he still stopped 42 of 45 stops. A quality showing and a .933 save percentage. Since everyone loves small samples, I just wanted to point out that Gibson was at .800 sv% his opening game.
The Ducks will look to get their first points of the season tomorrow against the New York Islanders. Could we see Emerson Etem make his Anaheim “debut”?