The Ducks put the Panthers game to rest in the best possible way, with a huge 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena. Let’s take a look at the breakdown of how the result turned out this way.
The first period began at an absolutely blistering pace, with the teams trading chances but the Ducks failing to really find any high quality shots on goal. The Lightning were able to set up a few times in the Ducks zone, but John Gibson stood tall and saved everything that was thrown his way. The Ducks gave their penalty kill a test at the 12:59 mark of the first when Ryan Getzlaf was sent to the sin bin for two minutes for high sticking. The penalty kill looked strong and Tampa Bay didn’t have any dangerous looks, bringing the Ducks back to even strength with a little momentum. The first period came to a close how it began with the score remaining knotted at zero.
The second period ended up being far more eventful than the first. Nick Ritchie was called for his daily required penalty, giving Tampa Bay their second power play of the game. Once again, the Anaheim penalty kill was able to stifle the two minute man advantage and earn one of their own one second after the power play for Tampa had ended. Ryan Callahan was sent to the box for interference and the Ducks were able to do what they haven’t done often this season, and that’s capitalize on the power play. Rickard Rakell broke free near the faceoff dot to the left of Peter Budaj and ripped a wrist shot past him with Corey Perry providing the screen in front. 1-0 Ducks.
The penalty parade in this period would continue with Josh Manson being called for interference at the 13:48 mark of the middle frame. John Gibson made some fantastic saves during this power play to keep the Lightning off the board, and once again, Anaheim was able to not only escape the penalty unscathed, but draw one of their own shortly after the kill. Copy+Paste the previous power play plan, because clearly whatever they were doing was working well. This time, it was Brandon Montour that fired a one-timer over the shoulder of Budaj to double the lead for the Ducks over the Lightning. 2-0 Ducks.
Tampa Bay finally was able to break through the brick wall that goes by the name of John Gibson and cash in on a rebound in front, only 57 seconds after the Montour goal. 2-1 Ducks.
Hampus Lindholm topped off the period by having his prayers to the hockey gods answered in the most miraculous way when he took a second to settle a puck in the high slot and then ripped it past Budaj with just .1 second left on the clock for the period. The goal was registered at 19:59, but it realistically should have said 19:59.99, because that’s the level of miracle that Hampus deserves. 3-1 Ducks.
Entering the third period with a two-goal lead and Randy Carlyle for a head coach surely means the turtling strategy is out in full force, right?
Rickard Rakell was having none of that idea and continued honing his craft for scoring goals, depositing a quick shot in the bottom corner past Budaj on an absolutely beautiful setup from Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. 4-1 Ducks.
With a 3-goal lead and time winding down, the Ducks were content to resorting to the “good-boring” style of hockey play, meaning lots of clears out of the zone and lots of playing in your own zone. The Lightning were able to get quite a few quality scoring chances near the end of the game, but future Vezina trophy winner John Gibson was not about to let Tampa Bay back into this game.
The Ducks were able to hang on for the 4-1 victory, despite Rickard Rakell’s attempts to hit the empty net and get himself the hat trick.
All in all, an absolutely phenomenal game from Anaheim and an effort that I’m sure all fans would love to see replicated for every game for the rest of the season. The Tampa Bay Lightning are no fluke of a team and the Ducks were able to capitalize on special teams and scoring opportunities to take the Tampa crowd out of it before the Lightning could get going.
Side note: Both Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov saw their 11-game point streaks come to an end tonight. Sorry, not sorry.
The Ducks are back in action tomorrow at 2 PM PST in PNC Arena against the Carolina Hurricanes.