The 2017-18 Anaheim Ducks season finally got underway, and what an opening day it was. Let’s take a look at how this craziness happened.
It’s old news that Anaheim was coming into their season opener missing an abundance of key pieces from their lineup. Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Hampus Lindholm, Ryan Miller, Sami Vatanen, and Patrick Eaves were all unavailable for the Ducks tonight. On the bright side, this gave a lot of the young guns a huge opportunity to showcase what they can offer on the ice.
The first period got underway with a really quick pace, as could be expected of any opening night game. The Coyotes caught Kevin Bieksa out of position (for the first time in his career, if my sources are correct), and the Coyotes broke into a 3-on-2. With some tic-tac-toe passing, Alex Goligoski fed Anthony Duclair, who did not miss and gave Arizona a 1-0 lead just 4:44 into the game.
The Coyotes used this momentum to turn up the pressure, and it resulted in the first career NHL goal from Clayton Keller at 8:32 of the 1st. 2-0 Coyotes. Things were bad.
BUT WAIT! IS THAT....CAN IT BE....IT’S COREY PERRY FOLKS! #ScoreyPerry gets a little bit of space in the slot and rips a wrist shot over Domingue’s shoulder to cut the lead in half just 44 seconds later. In other news, defense no longer matters at all in hockey.
The Coyotes received a power play from a Rickard Rakell slash, but it was short-lived after a Goligoski stick clipped Bieksa in the face, drawing blood and sending Bieksa to the locker room briefly. The ensuing power play showed moments of promise, but ultimately resulted in nothing.
The first period came to a close with the Coyotes leading 2-1, and 10-9 in shots.
The second period started much more furiously for the Ducks, with Anaheim pushing the pace and getting the first few shots on goal. The teams traded power play chances before Arizona finally made quick use of an opportunity, converting a power play courtesy of Max Domi. 3-1 Coyotes with 11:40 remaining in the middle frame.
The Ducks got a power play opportunity almost immediately after the Arizona goal, but Kevin Bieksa did what he does best and gave the Coyotes a golden scoring opportunity. John Gibson was forced to make his 3rd and 4th grade-A saves of the period to keep the lead at two.
Perry made contact with Domingue behind the net and, to put it lightly, all hell broke loose. Penalties all around, with Corey Perry getting two for goaltender interference and John Gibson getting a 10-minute misconduct for trying to start a GOALIE FIGHT. Ultimately, the resulting power play for the Coyotes ended up in the back of the Ducks net yet again. This time, Christian Fischer with the deflection in front. 4-1 Coyotes.
However, Corey Perry does not stand for this losing nonsense and scored one of his signature goals from approximately 6 millimeters in front of the goaltender. The Ducks got one back with Perry’s second of the night! 4-2 at 15:23 of the 2nd.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! Just 31 seconds later, Ondrej Kase nets the first of his 30 this year (don’t @ me) and it’s a 1 goal game! Everybody who has watched Anaheim in the past few seasons knows the Ducks play their best hockey in the middle frame.
The second period finished with the score only 4-3 in favor of the Coyotes, thanks to the quick offensive explosion for Anaheim. Shots were now favoring Anaheim, 27-25. Power plays, worth noting, were 2/4 for Arizona and 0/4 for Anaheim.
The third period began much more cautiously than the other two, with no real dangerous scoring chances.
The Ducks started applying some consistent pressure and got a few good looks, but unfortunately were unable to get an equalizer past Domingue. Even the combination of Derek Grant, Jared Boll, Korbinian Holzer, and Kevin Bieksa combined for a nice offensive zone cycle play that resulted in a scoring chance!
But FINALLY, the Ducks broke through with just 6:15 remaining in regulation! A great pass from Corey Perry gave Cogliano a tap-in right in front of the net, and we’re all tied at 4-4!
The Ducks kept the pressure on, and Rickard Rakell put the Ducks ahead for the first time all game. 5-4 Ducks with only 3:30 left! CHAOS! HOCKEY! SPORTS!
All the Ducks had to do now was avoid the Daily Egregious Ritchie Penalty (or DERP) to take the 2 points out of their season opener. Louis Domingue abandoned the crease with 1:43 remaining in the game as Arizona used their timeout to try to draw up an equalizer of their own.
After a few pushes by the Coyotes, the Ducks were able to kill the remaining time off the clock and start the season 1-0-0 with a win over their division rivals by a final score of 5-4!
Absolutely fantastic to see the team stay strong after falling down 4-1 in the game and show the resilience to chip away to complete the comeback with a depleted squad.
The Ducks are back in action again at Honda Center on Saturday at 7:00 PM PST against the Philadelphia Flyers.