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Ducks vs Sabres RECAP: Offensive Struggles Continue

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Offense, offense, wherefore art thou offense?

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Anaheim Ducks Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Ducks were looking to rebound from a rather ugly game against the Colorado Avalanche against a winless Buffalo Sabres team. Unfortunately, they once again struggled to find the back of the net, and Buffalo was able to put their first W for the 2017-2018 season. Here is a period-by-period breakdown of how it all happened.

1st Period:

The 1st period started and.... oh... the Sabres are already winning. John Gibson, returning to the lineup after missing the last two periods of the Colorado game, fumbled a rebound, which was then shoveled in by Justin Bailey for his 1st goal of the season. 1-0 Buffalo 1:26 into the game. Yikes.

The Ducks, for the first time in franchise history (I think) were given the opening power play of the game as Evander Kane was called for elbowing at the 4:38 mark. The Ducks power play that followed looked very promising, with the Ducks getting a few good looks, but unfortunately still came up empty.

It was then Anaheim’s turn to go shorthanded as Rickard Rakell was called for goaltender interference midway through the period. The penalty kill looked very solid, as they killed off the penalty without allowing a single shot on goal.

With 2:28 to go in the period, Anaheim got their second opportunity to notch their first power play goal of the season, as Josh Gorges was called for holding. This power play looked a lot more like the lackluster unit that is missing a lot of key pieces, as they were barely able to get set up in the offensive zone.

Penalty roulette continued with noted Anaheim Ducks goon Antoine Vermette (no, seriously, that’s his 5th penalty in 6 games) being called for tripping with only 8 seconds to go in the period. The Sabres were unable to get anything past Gibson in that time, and the period ended 1-0 in favor of Buffalo. The Sabres carryied 1:52 of power play time into the 2nd period. Shots on goal favored the Sabres 13-7.

2nd Period:

The Ducks wasted little time in the 2nd period jumping into a 3-on-2 rush shorthanded. Evander Kane was forced to take his 2nd penalty of the game, this time a slashing call, leading to 4-on-4 hockey for about a minute. Nothing doing there, so the Ducks power play began with 59 seconds remaining. The power play continued to look like a beer league man advantage, and we returned to 5v5 with no damage done on either side.

Evander Kane took his 3rd penalty of the game as he chopped the back of John Gibson’s leg trying to steal a puck behind the net at the 11:51 mark of the 2nd period. Nick Ritchie was able to get loose early in the power play and get a puck past Chad Johnson, but it was ultimately ruled as no goal, as the play had been blown dead prior to Ritchie being able to get to the puck.

The rest of the power play went as you would expect an Anaheim power play to go, resulting in a Corey Perry slashing call to give Buffalo another chance with the man advantage. The penalty kill that followed certainly looked shaky at times, mostly due to Vermette breaking his stick and then proceeding to stand in the middle of the ice as a useless statue trying to block passes, but the Ducks ultimately survived the penalty.

BUT FINALLY! Vermette redeems himself by sending a puck beautifully into the middle of the ice, sending Chris Wagner away on a shorthanded breakaway. Wagner beat Johnson 5-hole with a backhander, and the game was tied 1-1 with 4:10 remaining in the period.

Good things haven’t seemed to last long for Anaheim this season so far, and that remained true as Buffalo regained the lead with a Benoit Pouliot goal that ricocheted off of Fowler’s foot and past Gibson with just 31.3 seconds remaining in the period. It concluded 2-1 in favor of the Sabres with shots on goal at 24-17 in favor of Buffalo.

3rd Period:

The 3rd period started off largely uneventfully, with both teams failing to get any really dangerous scoring chances. The Ducks were able to get more sustained pressure in the offensive zone, but nothing was really challenging Chad Johnson.

With only about five minutes left in the game, the Ducks finally started to apply some real pressure and put much more in Chad Johnson’s direction. There were a few big rebounds and blocked shots that ended up in the slot, but the Ducks were still unable to find the back of the net.

The Ducks pulled Gibson with 1:39 left, and the Sabres almost immediately had 3 shots toward the empty net, somehow not icing the game right then. Derek Grant broke away off of a steal and fired a slap shot that Chad Johnson was just able to get a piece of, leaving Grant with the title still of almost NHL goal-scorer.

Johan Larsson was finally able to ice the game with 23.4 seconds remaining, as he finally hit the empty net to put the Ducks to rest in this one. Once again, the lacking power play and the inability to find any offense without their top playmakers leads to a loss, with the Buffalo Sabres taking the game by a final score of 3-1.

The Ducks are not back in action until Friday night, when they take on the Montreal Canadiens at Honda Center.