So much for Rickard Rakell needing a couple of adjustment games. With a goal and two assists, the newly-minted $22.8 million center welcomed himself back to the Ducks with authority, sparking a 4-0 win against the Kings on Tuesday night.
The first period saw the trademarked heavy-hitting style of both teams as the Kings matched the Ducks’ tempo early. One of the best parts of hockey, however, is how quickly nothing can turn into something. With just 30 seconds left in the 1st period, Rakell snapped a sneaky wrister through the five-hole of Kings goaltender Peter Budaj off a face-off win by Ryan Kesler for a goal in his first game of the season.
The Ducks Second Period Experience™ didn’t rear its ugly head this game as the exact opposite transpired. After Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin drew blood from Cramarossa to set off a double-minor penalty, Antoine Vermette netted his first goal as a Duck from the slot off a beautiful behind-the-net saucer pass from Rakell. The Ducks would cash in during the second half of the double-minor as well. Just 31 seconds after the Vermette goal, Ryan Getzlaf found Ryan Kesler crashing the net with a strike to the stick blade for the tip-in. Anaheim would cap off the 2nd period with rookie Joseph Cramerossa netting his first career NHL goal on a wraparound attempt. Budaj would not return for the third period as a result.
What the third period lacked in offense it made up for in physicality as the theme of the period was line brawls. Near the middle of the final frame, Jordan Nolan took exception to Ryan Getzlaf holding his stick near the Ducks bench. Two blinks later six Ducks had taken to the ice to subdue him with the rest of the Kings jumping in and pairing off. John Gibson took care of the rest with a phenomenal 30 save performance handing the Kings their third consecutive shutout, something LA hasn’t had happen to them since 1969.
The Ducks didn’t get out of the game in one piece, however, as Nick Ritchie left the game after a hit to the head from Tom Gilbert. He did not return to the game making his status for the immediate future questionable.
Anaheim heads back to Honda Center for the second of a back-to-back slate on Wednesday evening against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.