The team played like they knew the game was all about matchup between Andersen and Gibson. By that I mean the Anaheim defense gave Gibson plenty of opportunities to stop the puck. Anaheim’s number one goalie faced eleven shots in the period with many being grade A scoring chances.
In what seemed like a merciful gesture, the Maple Leafs took three penalties in the opening twenty minutes. But because it’s the holiday season the Ducks really wanted to give back. Toronto got the majority of the scoring chances in those six minutes. The first big chance came after none other than a Bieksa turnover in front of the net. The veteran defender over skated the puck leaving Gibson to make an incredible save. Later, Rakell and Vatanen botched a pass at the offensive blue line setting up a Toronto breakaway. Gibson was again up to the task.
Both Anaheim and Toronto traded early chances in the middle frame. Andersen made a great toe save on a Rakell redirect from a Getzlaf shot. A few shifts later he made some solid positional saves on Rakell and Kesler. Can you tell I miss Andersen yet? The Leafs followed with Hyman getting his second breakaway opportunity of the night. This one was a little less glamorous as he whiffed at the moment of truth.
Auston Matthews opened up the scoring at 7:27 into the period. After a Getzlaf turnover, Nikita Zaitsev quickly shot the puck toward the net allowing Matthews to get a one-handed stick on the puck. A nifty little deflection was able to beat Gibson. Advantage Andersen.
All it took was a goal against to get the Ducks motivated in the offensive zone. The first line led a three on one break and almost got onto the score sheet. Getzlaf touched a pass to Perry but left him with little room to operate. Andersen was able to make the point blank save and not allow a rebound. Perry immediately went back to the bench and broke his stick in half.
Hey people, Getzlaf shot the puck! Oh yeah and he scored a power play goal. The puck bounced off two Toronto defenders but the captain will happily take the stroke of good fortune. His fourth goal of the season tied the game at one. Fowler and Vatanen earned the assists.
Only a minute into the period, Ondrej Kase was the recipient of a generous Toronto turnover. The Czech made a series of great plays and ultimately was able to get the puck to Ritchie for a goal and a 2-1 lead.
With a lead it was only a matter of time before Anaheim started to lean on John Gibson. On an early penalty kill, his best save came on a cross-ice pass and shot from Nylander. The key was keeping his chest up while moving across the crease. He was able to read the play and make a calculated challenge with his glove. However, Nazem Kadri evened up the score at two. Similarly to the Getzlaf goal, the puck went off of an Anaheim defender and past Gibson.
Cam Fowler broke the tie to put Anaheim ahead 3-2. The defender wins my Wesley Snipes award for the night with his power play goal. His ninth goal of the season was a straight up missile off the post and in. The goal stood up to be the game winner.
The Ducks have one more game on the road trip against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday before the Christmas break
Anaheim will be back in action tomorrow night in Montreal to take on Carey Price and the Canadiens.