Luckily for the Ducks the Philadelphia Flyers are out of Anaheim, and a familiar foe took their place. A depleted Detroit team was exactly what the doctor ordered to gain some defensive zone confidence.
The first five minutes of the game did not have a single whistle, which gave the opening frame a tremendous pace. Both teams were forced to create a fluid rhythm. Somehow this did not translate into accurate passing. Neither team was able to consistently hold onto the puck. Turnover after turnover led to the occasional scoring chance against.
Nick Ritchie was able to capitalize on one such Detroit turnover to open the scoring. Ritchie’s ninth goal of the season came at 13:54 and was assisted by Vermette and Kase. The Red Wings were upset that the goal was allowed, and they had very good reason to be. The Ducks clearly should have been called for icing but the linesman had waived it off before the puck even crossed center ice.
Well, you knew that the referees would somehow get involved for a classic Ducks/Red Wings matchup but who knew that they would actually take Anaheim’s side? A minute into the period it looked as if Brendan Smith had tied the game at one. However after a Carlyle challenge, the refs deemed that Smith interfered with Gibson before the goalie knocked the puck into his own goal.
Soon later, the Corey Perry line spent an entire shift in the Detroit zone and even allowed the fourth line to sub on with possession. The trio was able to take advantage of a tired defense and pepper Mrazek’s crease. The Detroit goalie made another great stop on Rakell a few minutes later. To his credit, Joseph Cramarrosa is making the most out of his top 6 addition with some dazzling plays. Seeing another left-handed shot in the top six somehow has a calming feeling to it.
Shout out to Chris Wagner for absolutely destroying a Red Wing player in the open ice. There’s nothing that gets you to consider getting off of the couch like seeing a clean hit where someone goes flying. I’m totally fine with a low scoring game if this can happen once a period. More please.
Of course there was more referee shenanigans. Ritchie took yet another penalty in the offensive zone, or did he? Ritchie was called for a high stick even though the replay was quite inconclusive. Then while the Red Wings were on the power play, Steve Ott followed with a soft goaltender interference penalty.
The best part of the third period was that Anaheim did not completely go into turtle mode. It’s hard to tell if that’s because of a better defensive effort or a weaker Detroit offense but the Ducks were able to stay on the offensive. With three minutes left in the game, Kase boosted the lead to two. Vermette somehow kicked a pass (hard to tell if it was on purpose or not) over to the speedy winger for a backhand finish. It was a stellar play and a great way to finish the night.
Anaheim will be back in action Friday night against the Arizona Coyotes at Honda Center.