After a beautiful ceremony for Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya, it was time to turn the attention to the matter at hand. The Anaheim Ducks were looking to put on a great performance for Paul and Teemu by breaking a three-game losing streak against the Florida Panthers, and John Gibson and Friends did just that, scoring a couple highlight reel goals en route to a 3-2 victory over the Panthers.
The Ducks looked to be rallying behind the emotion and excitement already in the crowd, and they took off quickly on an odd-man rush into the offensive zone. Vincent Trocheck was forced to trip up Corey Perry and take the first penalty of the game, just 24 seconds in.
Unfortunately, even the league’s 2nd worst penalty kill was still able to kill of the Ducks power play without facing any real dangerous scoring chances. Would anybody mind asking Paul or Teemu if they want to suit up for the power play?
Mike Liambas, making his Anaheim Ducks debut tonight, decided to make his first shift on the ice one to remember by dropping the gloves at center ice with Micheal Haley. Both headed to the box to serve their five-minute majors after a spirited bout with no major shots landing.
After a frantic defensive effort in their own zone, the Ducks were able to break out due to a blocked shot from Josh Manson. Manson took off on a clean breakaway and did not miss his opportunity, making a fantastic move just in front of Roberto Luongo to be able to pull the puck to his right and deposit it into an empty net. 1-0 Ducks with just 1:03 remaining in the 1st.
The opening period came to a close with the Ducks holding a 1-0 lead, despite being outshot by a 16-6 margin.
Mike Liambas made a not-as-good impression on his first shift of the 2nd period, as he was called for roughing 2:41 into the period. The Panthers headed to their first power play of the night and it only took Jonathan Huberdeau 17 seconds to get the puck behind John Gibson on a deflection. However, the play was reviewed for potentially being knocked in with a high stick, and the call was ultimately overturned, leaving the 1-0 lead intact and the Panthers still on the power play.
After that overturned call, it was all Ducks on the kill, with Chris Wagner starting it off with great puck work in the Panthers zone, leading to a Florida turnover that sent Nick Ritchie in on a partial breakaway. Aleksander Barkov tripped Ritchie, and the Florida power play ended with no harm done to Anaheim.
Nothing resulted from the 4-on-4 hockey, and the Ducks 2nd power play of the night was abbreviated but successful. Chris Wagner fed a beautiful pass cross-ice to Rickard Rakell, who caught and released the puck immediately, beating Luongo over the shoulder to give the Ducks a very welcome power play goal. 2-0 Anaheim.
Andrew Cogliano was called for hooking at the 11:10 mark of the middle frame, giving the Panthers their second power play opportunity of the night. The Ducks had few issues killing off the penalty, and were even able to generate a shorthanded chance from Jakob Silfverberg.
Shortly after that kill, the Ducks found themselves right back on the penalty kill, this time Antoine Vermette was called for interference against Chase Balisy. Unfortunately, this penalty kill was not so lucky for Anaheim. A point shot from Keith Yandle deflected off of Cogliano’s leg right to Vincent Trocheck, who did not miss the wide open net (although John Gibson almost made a fantastic glove save). 2-1 Ducks.
The penalty parade continued for the Ducks with Brandon Montour following suit, being called for slashing on Vincent Trocheck with 2:52 remaining in the period. This power play had a few good looks, but the Ducks were able to escape both the power play and the period with their lead intact. 2-1 Ducks after 40, with the shots still favoring Florida, now by a count of 28-17.
The Ducks were finally able to turn the penalty tables, getting the first power play opportunity of the final frame just 27 seconds in after Vincent Trocheck put the puck over the glass for a delay of game. The power play looked phenomenal, with great puck movement in the zone, eventually setting up a rebound that deflected right to Brandon Montour, who fired it past Luongo to give the Ducks their second power play goal of the game. 3-1 Ducks.
More penalties! Another delay of game for the puck over the glass and this time it’s....John Gibson? Yep, classic goonery from Gibby. Yet another Panthers power play, as Corey Perry sits to serve John Gibson’s delay of game call. Naturally, the Ducks kill off the first 1:43 of the penalty before Brandon Montour decides to join the delay of game party by launching another souvenir into the Honda Center seats. 17 seconds of 5-on-3 for the Panthers was no problem for the brick wall that is John Gibson, and the Ducks returned, somehow unscathed, to a normal 5v4 shorthanded situation.
Absolute madness in the Anaheim crease, but John Gibson still said no with a few miracle saves on the Florida power play. Finally, the Ducks calmed things down and killed off the remaining 30 seconds of the power play. If we could just go ahead and get the Vezina engraved with John Gibson’s name right now, that’d be great.
After a scuffle in front of the Anaheim goal after the 267th Gibson save of the night, Connor Brickley and Sami Vatanen were both given coincidental roughing minors, returning the teams to 4 on 4 hockey. However, even that was short-lived as Florida was called for hooking, giving Anaheim an abbreviated 4 on 3 power play.
The NHL quickly informed the Ducks that they had already reached their quota for power play goals in the month of November (This has to be the issue, right?) and the Panthers killed off the hooking minor to Aaron Ekblad.
The Panthers put the puck past John Gibson with 2:59 remaining in the game on a point shot, but Randy Carlyle challenged the call for goaltender interference. The call appeared to be close, as Corey Perry may have pushed Jonathan Huberdeau back into Gibson, and the refs agreed. The goal stood and the Ducks lost their timeout. 3-2 Ducks.
With 1:52 remaining in the 3rd, the Panthers got an offensive zone faceoff and Roberto Luongo headed to the bench to give Florida the extra skater. After a few more tense moments in the Anaheim goal crease, the Ducks were finally able to kill off the remainder of the game clock and walk away with the victory, ending their three game losing streak to the Florida Panthers.
John Gibson finished the night with 50 (yes, fifty) saves, and was immediately named the Star of the Game by the television crew, and rightly so. He was single-handedly the reason that the Ducks won this game, and he deserves all of the accolades he could possibly receive. Be sure to send him a thank you on Twitter if you’re reading this.
The Ducks will be back in action tomorrow night in San Jose at the SAP Center as they take on the Sharks for the second half of their back-to-backs.