Anaheim could not have asked for a better opponent coming off a 5-day All-Star-break. Colorado, the last place team in the NHL (a whopping 10 points behind 29th place Arizona), came to Anaheim tonight for the teams 3rd contest of the month. Anaheim, after winning the previous two meetings this month, felt confident entering the game as they looked to add two more points before leaving for a 14-day, 6-game roadie.
The Ducks, however, started the game in a very lackadaisical manner. After an extended break, it’s always mentioned that it sometimes takes a team a bit to get their skates back underneath them, and that’s what we saw from Anaheim early in the first. Missed passes, terrible awareness (looking at you, Shaw), and just lazy play in general plagued Anaheim for the first half of the period. To top it all off, the refs absolutely blew a delay of game call against Ryan Kesler five minutes in.
The first of three penalties that Anaheim was forced to in the first, Colorado looked fairly dangerous on the powerplay. While Anaheim had a few shorthanded opportunities on the three penalty kills, Colorado managed solid zone time and a handful of great chances against Gibson who looked fresh from the opening whistle and stood tall all period. Near the halfway mark of the period, Anaheim’s 8th ranked powerplay got the opportunity to give the Ducks the lead. After the #1 PP unit struggled to maintain the offensive zone and tried a few too many fancy plays, the #2 unit got their chance. With just 10 seconds left in the man advantage, Vatanen hit Ritchie with a pass as he streaked down the left wing into the Colorado zone. Ritchie collected the pass and then threw a pass along the ice as he approached the goal line. Jakub Silfverberg, streaking in towards the left post, made a deft deflection on the puck sending it just under the arm of Calvin Pickard, putting Anaheim in the lead. The period ended with Anaheim in the lead 1-0.
Early in the second, the top line got the cycle game going off a faceoff in the Colorado zone. A shot pass from Vatanen found Perry in front who took the puck behind the Colorado net. After exchanging with Getzlaf, Perry circled to the slot and hit Rakell with a shot pass that he tipped behind Pickard to give Anaheim a 2-0 lead. Just a few minutes later, the Avs found a way to cut Anaheim’s lead in half. After the puck was chipped out of the Colorado zone, Hampus Lindholm attempted to make a fancy, no-look pass to Jakub Silfverberg as they skated towards the red line. However, Grigorenko picked Silf’s pocket and tipped the puck to Mikko Rantanen who skated in alone on Gibson, putting the puck in to cut Anaheim’s lead to 1.
The middle part of the period was very slow and plagued by a lot of back-and-forth play as both teams struggled to get sustained offensive zone time. After continually trading chances toward the end of the period, the refs finally felt they needed to get involved in the middle frame. As Rickard Rakell attempted to cut between Pickard and the net the get to a puck, Wiercoch absolutely destroyed his own goaltender, drawing a goaltender interference against Rakell. That’s how that call works, right? [Ed. Note: Those “Ref you suck” calls in Honda Center were way loud.] Luckily, Colorado did very little with the opportunity as Anaheim killed their 4th penalty of the game and Anaheim went into the second intermission with a 2-1 lead.
Entering the third, Anaheim really needed to widen their lead again to try and hold off the speedy Avalanche. After a couple of chances early, Jakub Silfverberg got a pass from Cogliano as he skated into the Colorado zone. Doing a great job of protecting the puck from a back-checking Francois Beauchemin, Silfverberg proceed to deke Pickard out of his shorts and deposit an easy backhander for his second goal of the game.
The Ducks dominated possession for nearly the entire third period after the Silfverberg goal. All this was topped off by one German’s first goal as a Duck. After a stretch of Anaheim owning the puck almost exclusively, Joseph Cramarossa found the hot hand of Silfverberg as he skated behind Pickard. Curling behind the goal, Jakub sent a pass up towards the blue line that split the legs of Nate Thompson, but landed right on the tape of one Korbinian Holzer. Holzer sent a wrist shot in, through traffic, and picked the top left corner, moving Anaheim’s lead to 4-1. It was Holzer’s first goal since February 9, 2013!!!
Cam Fowler added the icing on the cake with his 11th goal of the season (a new career high) with less than three minutes left. Cam’s snapshot off the Nick Ritchie drop pass deflected off the inside of the right arm of Calvin Pickard, sealing a 5-1 victory for and a season series sweep of the Avs.
The Ducks will be back in action on Friday in Sunshine, FL for their first game of the season against the Panthers. Puck drop is at 4:30 PST.