With the City of Anaheim dealing with a fast moving wildfire 10 miles away from the Honda Center, the Ducks had their hands full with their own pesky Flames. Having not lost a home game to Calgary since January 2004, the Ducks attempted to extend their dominance to 30 consecutive victories. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Here’s a period breakdown of what happened.
With Captain Ryan Getzlaf making his first start of the season, Honda Center was electric. This energy translated onto the ice from the moment the puck dropped. The pace of play was fast, and the physicality was evident immediately.
The Ducks owned the first half of the period supplying pressure in the offensive zone—noticeably the Antoine Vermette line consisting of Logan Shaw and Chris Wagner. Within the 3:25 minutes Anaheim had five shots on goal. Unfortunately none found the back of the net. At the 3:45 mark, Michael Stone was called for a holding penalty on Chris Wagner, and then shortly after Sam Bennett was called for a slash on Francois Beauchemin giving the Ducks a 5-on-3 power play. Corey Perry would change that as he was caught giving Mark Giordano a cross check. It’s not like Giordano didn’t deserve it, just ask Cam Fowler in regards to last season.
The quick pace and physicality continued, which resulted in a great tempo. The best scoring chance for Anaheim came on a point blank shot by Getzlaf that barely missed the glove side of Mike Smith and flew over the cross bar. The ice began to tilt in Calgary’s favor, and John Gibson was called upon to make several key saves. One shot in particular came off of Matthew Tkachuk’s stick and hit Gibson right in the mask knocking it off his head and stopping play. Talk about keeping your head in the game. The Ducks went almost 14 minutes in the final stretch of the period without having a shot on net, and the Flames lead the scoring chances 6 to 0. Luckily the Ducks were able to keep the Flames off the board and the period ended tied 0-0. On a sour note, Ondrej Kase left the period with an upper-body injury and didn’t return.
The pace continued in the middle frame as each team was forced to play with limited space on the ice. Getzlaf had another solid scoring chance as he charged into the crease but was once again denied by Smith. Other than that, most of Anaheim’s shots came from the point but were either shot wide or blocked.
On the opposite end, Gibson made a highlight worthy save on a 2-on-1 breakaway featuring Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau vs Brandon Montour. Gaudreau made a beautiful pass to Monahan but not as beautiful as the save Gibson made as he sprawled to his left for the save. Apparently the hit to the head earlier didn’t knock Gibby off his game. Shortly after, Bieksa was called for an untimely cross-checking penalty because c’mon that’s what Bieksa does best. The Ducks PK wouldn’t be able to stop the Flames and their fourth power play as Gaurdreau made a tic-tac-toe cross ice pass to Kris Versteeg. The shot from the far post and was blocked by Cam Folwer, but the rebound ended up on Monahan’s stick and behind Gibson who was out of position. The result, a 1-0 Calgary lead and ensuring the Ducks would once again not score first in a game this season. In fact, the Ducks haven’t had a lead since their first game according to Eric Stephens:
So the Ducks still haven't had a lead outside of the final 3:30 of the opener.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) October 10, 2017
Anaheim controlled the play for the better part of the third, until Getzlaf lost a puck along the boards. Michael Frolik was able to get possession and beat a sprawling Montour, and got a pass to Mikael Backlund. The Calgary forward made a perfect shot to beat Gibson top-shelf. Gibson had no chance of making the save. 2-0 Flames.
This came after the Ducks were unable to score on another power play opportunity. In fact, the special teams were very disappointing for Anaheim as the Ducks finished the night 0-4 with the man advantage. They are now a disappointing 0-11 this season on the power play . Their fourth chance came with about 3 minutes left in the game in which Gibson was pulled giving the Ducks a 6-on-4 advantage. The Ducks came very close to scoring as Derek Grant had a juicy rebound in the slot with everyone crashing the crease, however just as he hasn’t done himself in 89 career games, the Ducks weren’t able to score. The resulting play did leave Smith a bit shaken up, but he stayed in to complete his 34th career shutout. Thus closing the chapter on what had been an amazing home ice streak for the Ducks.
All good things must come to an end, we guess. #NHLDucks fall to the Flames at home for the first time since 2004— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) October 10, 2017
The Ducks will remain home at the Honda Center as they take on the NY Islanders Wednesday at 7:00 PM PST.