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Ducks @ Sharks: MORNING THOUGHTS

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Anaheim “Berra-ly” has enough energy to get its two points.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

40 saves in regulation and overtime and an additional 6 of 9 saves in the shootout to lead the Ducks to a 3-2 victory. 19 of the 20 saves came in the third period to give his team a chance at escaping with at least 1 point in a road division-rival game. It was just another night in the office for Mr. John Gib.... Oh wait, that’s right he just saved 50 goals the night before. Well, it was nice to see Ryan Miller step up again when needed this season. What’s that? Oh he’s injured?

Well then who so admirably stepped in net to continue the Ducks success at the goalie position? Well it was none other than Reto “Yogi” Berra. Yes I understand if that name doesn’t quite ring a bell, but he did indeed help the Ducks win their third straight game and earn points in six of their last seven games. Berra was called upon to make his first start as a Duck and his first start since April 2017. At first, he seemed a little jittery which was to be expected, but as the game progressed, he settled in quite nicely.

In a game where the Ducks desperately needed to limit the opposing team’s shots on goal, they received help on the blue line with the return of Cam Fowler who had missed the previous 12 games with a lower-body injury. Although the Ducks would allow the Sharks to strike first with a terrible turnover in their own end allowing Joonas Donskoi to score, they would settle their nerves and control the two opening frames.

Both Anaheim goals would come in the second period as Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry would increase their goal totals for the season. In fact both Rakell and Perry would finish the night with two points apiece with a goal and an assist each. Brandon Montour would also finish the night with two points as well, with two assists of his own.

Although the Ducks managed to control most of the game in the first two periods, fatigue set in within the final frame, and the Sharks made their offensive push by getting 20 shots on net and Donskoi would cash in again. Considering how visibly exhausted the Ducks skaters seemed to be in that final period, it was impressive that Berra was able to dig deep and come up big to help Anaheim at least come away with one point while heading into overtime. Fowler would later comment on the Ducks’ play in the opening 40-mintues:

In overtime, the sluggish Ducks couldn’t do anything with their opportunities as they were completely gassed. However, they found the energy to stifle the Sharks by not allowing them to get any solid scoring chances. In the shootout, Berra was terrific. You wouldn’t have guessed that he hadn’t won a game in almost two years. He was able to stop six of nine shots in the shootout while making a couple great saves with a solid poke check. In the shootout the Ducks got goals from Perry, Fowler, Montour and Antoine Vermette. Vermette’s would be a great shot through the five-hole of Martin Jones and the game winner.

Best and Worst

BEST - Anaheim came up huge in net once again. With Gibson making 90 combined saves in the previous two games, the Ducks needed to help take some pressure off of Berra to have a chance at winning on the road in a hostile environment. Instead they allowed 42 shots on goal, and Berra came up huge stopping 40 of them. Throw in 6 more saves in 9 rounds of the shootout and you couldn’t ask for a better performance from your backup-goalie’s backup. Here’s what Berra had to say in regards to his shootout performance:

For a guy who’s last win came on December 1st, 2015, it was a tremendous performance and much deserved victory for Berra.

Another best for the Ducks was the play of Perry. The Perry/Grant/Rakell line has looked very solid of late. Perry seems to be finding his vintage form by aggressively attacking the net on offense and Derek Grant seems to be building chemistry with him as they had multiple scoring chances throughout the night. Perry and Rakell would both finish with a goal and an assist and while Grant wouldn’t find the score sheet, his offensive zone play was a big part of setting up Perry’s goal. The Ducks will need Perry to continue generating offensive scoring chances as they continue to wait for their other veteran offensive pieces to get healthy.

WORST -

Although the Ducks defense was able to control the first 40-minutes of the game by allowing the Sharks only 19 shots on net, the team lost their wind in the third and gave up 20 shots in the final period alone. With Fowler back on defense I expect to see the D-unit tighten things up as Fowler’s veteran leadership will help the defense make better decisions within their own zone. The unit will need to continue finding ways to limit the amount of shots their goalies face. Anaheim cannot continue to expect their goalies to make 40 plus saves a game. The defense will need to find ways to get into passing lanes and block more shots. Even though the goalies have all risen to the challenge thus far, being forced to make that many saves on a nightly basis will eventually take a toll towards the end of the season.

Three Stars of the Game:

3. Rickard Rakell ( 1 Goal, 1 Assist )

2. Reto Berra ( 40 saves and a great shootout performance )

1. Corey Perry ( 1 Goal, 1 Assist and constant pressure all night )

The Ducks will return to action Wednesday night as they take on the Vegas Golden Knights at the Honda Center.