After a solid effort against Calgary, Anaheim looked poised to end the 2016 calendar year on a 2-game winning streak. You can’t ask for a much better matchup than the 26th ranked Canucks on the tail end of back-to-backs. Having beaten Vancouver in their previous two meetings this season, Anaheim would have been right to be confident entering the game Friday. However, a lackluster final 40 minutes had this game tied and headed to Anaheim’s biggest weakness, 3v3 overtime. Henrik Sedin’s 9th goal of the season was the final nail in the coffin as the Ducks now leave Vancouver with just a loser point in tow.
I almost feel like Anaheim was trying to tease to us that they were bound to lose this in the first period. With two penalties taken by Anaheim in the first five minutes of the first, the Ducks were lucky to escape the first period without giving up a goal. After killing off the first minor to Hampus Lindholm, Antoine Vermette took a tripping penalty 04:12 into the period. Anaheim looked solid on the kill and then an innocuous 2-on-2 rush turned into a shorthanded goal. With Cramarossa carrying the puck down the right side, Getzlaf entered the Canucks zone and curled towards the slot to receive a cross-ice pass from #74. The Anaheim captain then proceeded to rip a wrist shot across his body to beat Miller blocker side and record just his 5th (I wish I was joking about that number) goal of the season. The rest of the period was fairly uneventful. A lot of neutral zone play meant that each team only recorded 3 shots on goal in the last 14:12 of the first.
The second period started with a lot of hope for Anaheim. Less than a minute in, Anaheim gained the Vancouver zone and set the puck up at the point with Hampus Lindholm. Lindholm then fired a shot towards the Canucks’ net which deflected off a Vancouver forward and snuck in behind Miller, sitting in the blue paint. Golden Boy Rickard Rakell then came charging in from the faceoff dot and jammed the puck home for his 16th goal this year.
After that scoring change, Rakell is on pace for 42 goals this year. In a full 82-game season, Raks would be on pace for 48 pic.twitter.com/rCwKTv2bnq— Anaheim Calling (@AnaheimCalling) December 31, 2016
The goal was challenged by Vancouver as it appeared that Rakell had pushed Miller’s pad into the puck instead of actually making contact with it, but the review ruled in favor of Anaheim. I’m still not sure when in that play Rakell touches the puck, but I can’t complain.
The second period continued the Anaheim cavalcade to the penalty box as the Ducks took another three minor penalties, all in the first 08:25 of the second. While the Ducks were able to kill the first penalty, a nifty play by Loui Eriksson brought Vancouver within a goal on the second powerplay. With less than 30 seconds left in the penalty, Ben Hutton sent a shot towards the Anaheim net. A deflection from Eriksson in front (who, by the way, was untouched by either Bieksa or Fowler, Anaheim’s two penalty killing defensemen) got the puck behind Gibson.
Anaheim made a bit of a push in the back half of the second, thanks in part to Vancouver taking their first and only penalty of the game. But, Corey Perry being robbed by Ryan Miller on the powerplay was really the only worthwhile highlight of the period:
In the third period, it was Vancouver’s turn to get an early goal. After a scrum in the corner of the Ducks zone, Bo Horvat sent a centering pass to the high slot to a streaking Alex Edler who one-timed the puck towards Anaheim’s net. After bouncing off what seemed like every player in front of the Duck’s net, the puck sat down nicely for Jack Skille who was waiting just to the right of John Gibson. Skille took two shots: his first was stuffed by the outstretched pad of Gibson, and his second was deposited over Gibson’s pad and in the back of the net. This was the second goal where a Canuck forward scored while unmolested on the doorstep. Yeah.
While Anaheim had some chances to try and take the lead back, it was obvious that the Ducks were running out of gas as the period went along. Two more penalties in the third period (now a grand total of SEVEN on the game) stunted Anaheim’s efforts and the period ended in a 2-2 tie. Now for overtime....
The first two minutes of overtime were fairly uneventful until Miller made a solid save on former-Canuck Ryan Kesler. Shortly after, Ryan Getzlaf and Cam Fowler would get two 2-on-1 rushes that would ultimately decide the game. The first rush resulted in a wicked shot from Fowler that sailed over Miller’s left shoulder and the crossbar. Then, after some extensive time in the defensive zone, Fowler and Getzlaf got another chance at the 2-on-1. At the end of a long shift, you could the two were gassed but Fowler pushed on. Inside the Vancouver zone, Cam took a hard shot that bounced right off Miller’s pads and out to the top of the zone where Loui Eriksson picked up the puck with some steam. The only man back was Rickard Rakell who was fresh off the bench. Eriksson carried the puck into the Anaheim zone and then slid the puck across to a trailing Henrik Sedin whose wrist shot beat Gibson over his left shoulder. Game over: 3-2 Vancouver.
Anaheim will play their next game on New Year’s Day in the friendly confines of Honda Center against the Philadelphia Flyers.
PS. This little girl is pretty awesome