The Ducks played host to that team from Winnipeg, on what was their last home game before a 6 game road trip....if one can call the first night in LA (tomorrow night) part of a road trip. The Jets came out fast, and while the Ducks put in some work later, the game was for all intents and purposes over after the first 5 minutes.
Randy Carlyles’ Ducks, knowing that he is the supreme motivator and super coach, decided they would handicap themselves and allow the Jets to get a couple minute head start tonight.
It didn't quite work out in their favour as the Jets hammered home 2 goals within the first 40 seconds. 1 was waived off following a challenge by Carlyle, as it appeared in their enthusiasm the Jets had played offside.
The second had Nikolaj Ehlers hands all over it. Firstly, Ehlers checks Sami Vatanen in the corner, leading to a partially loose backwards pass to a contest, before he skates back to the high slot. Sami, is tripped (not called) by Bryan Little as he goes in to get he puck, and turns it over. In the ensuring chaos, Ehlers comes up with the puck and got it down low to Little, who tic-tac-toed it to Patrik Laine. His shot went in quick and John Gibson lost sight of the rebound for a moment. With the Ducks having already collapsed to the wall, the moment was all it took for Ehlers to sink the dagger in. Perry and Rakell were slow moving back from their high forward slots along the wall, leaving the fast skating Ehlers to come in from Gibsons glove side and wrist it in quick. Ducks were unlucky not to get the tripping call, but overall the goal was a result of a poor defensive scheme exploited by quick skaters moving their feet. The Ducks simply cannot allow scorers of Ehlers calibre to find acreage alone in the offensive zone.
Not 30 seconds following the goal, Francois Beauchemin took an interference penalty. For the most part, the Ducks defended well with the kill culminating in a Andrew Cogliano breakaway. Cogs strips the puck on the blue line, and he’s off to the races. Rickard Rakell, partially covered, takes the other wing and they create a near 2 on 1 scenario which is stoned by Connor Hellebuyck. As soon as the penalty expires, the Ducks Dennis Rasmussen tries to make his presence felt with a downward slash to the head of Brandon Tanev. Naturally, and rightly, it was called.
Once again Cogs gets himself a shorthanded chance on net. Sometime very soon, he’s going to break through and get one. However tonight wasn't that night. The puck shoots down the other end, and the Ducks as per their system, attempt to clog the corridor with a slight lean towards the puck carrier. Unfortunately, defensive awareness isn't a strong point, as they once again left Ehlers all alone. Poor guy doesn't need to roll a stealth check for no one to notice him :( The Ducks once again, immobile defence, allows a puck to move across ice through the crease, where Ehlers picked it up. Having all the time in the world, he head fakes to glove side, and instead rifles it stick side by the post. It’s one Gibson would probably like back, but scorers like Ehlers are going to get the more than half the time if given that much time and space.
The rest of the period didn't have a lot of notable happenings. Hampus Lindholm bobbled a pass point to point in the offensive zone, which seems to be a recurring trend of recent days. Josh Manson took a run at Myers, which seems to be something he’s doing more of this season. I do wonder if it’s a little overboard given his other abilities. Offensively the Ducks had a couple of chances to get on the board. Derek Grant had a wonderful takeaway right on the door step, with 4 minutes remaining. Sadly he didn't get enough on it, but he wasn't alone with that little problem. With one minute to go the Ducks put on a bit of pressure, and entered the zone with a wonderful carry. Sami was all alone with an open net, but they just couldn't get him the puck. Corey Perry also had a great chance, but also just couldn't get a stick on it. Not much, but signs of life.
The Ducks closed the period winning the corsi battle, having taken it to the Jets with roughly 8 minutes to go. Score effect is one reason, a boost in play another. It should also be noted that many of the Ducks attempts were from distance, and largely ineffective, with no one getting to rebounds.
The Ducks ended the period; outshot, out blocked, out hit, out... face-off’d (its a word, probably) and with less takeaways. They simply weren't able to capitalise on the turnovers from the opposition in the same manner that the Jets were able to.
The second period, while closer in terms of play, was all about how good Big Daddy Gibson is. Once again, the Ducks tried their hardest to crush their opposition with loneliness by leaving Little all alone on the far side. Ehlers rifled him a pass, and Little practically broke the puck he smashed at it so hard. Gibson, however, was up to the task and stoned him cold. Later on, Mark Scheifele found Tyler Myers streaking through the blue line into the corridor with speed. Myers goes high glove, and Gibson goes “not tonight.”
But before that Tyler Russ pulled the new version of the goalie trick by dressing up as Beauch and unleashing the knuckle puck. Firing it from the point, it initially appeared to hit Logan Shaw on the way through. However the replayed showed that it was magic and just moved through the air in a mystical and unusual fashion. Hellebuyck was as shocked and confused as the rest of us, and the goal was good! Someone should tell Pseudo-Coach Carlyle that shooting the puck sometimes results in goals.
~7 minutes later, Little lit up the scoreboard once again. The Ducks patented corner overload was once again exposed. All four Ducks players collapse in to the corner chasing the puck handler (Ehlers) like under-10s are want to do. Ehlers goes back to the defenceman at the point, Myers pushes the puck across to the other side and finds the high offensive forward all alone. Little walks in and shoots one of the few high glove side shots of the period. It’s good.
That was it for the scoring in the period, but it should be noted that the Ducks had a bunch of quality chances. Rakell went to work on the penalty kill and if Ritchie had gotten a little more stick on puck, it could very well have been a closer game. Perry tried to feed Grant on a beauty, but he flubbed it and it was a largely ineffectual chance.
The Ducks also managed to get a rare powerplay. Perry did Perry things, shoving Ben Chiarot after the whistle. As part of the resulting line brawl, Schiefele, decided to shove the butt of his stick into Perry’s face. While butter would normally never melt in Perry mouth, it certainly won’t tonight, as there is no doubt he’ll be icing up that cut later. The ensuing power play, for some reason made up of only RH shooters, was possibly the best of season. Chances abounded. It was magical. Rakell perhaps had the best of them, walking in on Hellebuyck. Unfortunately Rakell perhaps tried to do to much, walking a little far and then throwing it into the crease. While it looked great, I can help but think that a shot on the walk in would have been more effective.
That was all she wrote for the period. The Ducks did play much better than the first (and 100 x better than against Vegas the other night), however this may in part have been due to Winnipeg taking their time a little more offensively. They continued to show a clear strategy for taking the puck to Gibsons stick side (see heat chart below), and with a two goal buffer didn't seem to require pouring on the pressure.
Third period starts with Manson making a nifty little move to get around Dustin Byfuglien. Its things like this that make me question why Manson has started taking borderline illegal runs at players this season. He has the skills to pay the bills, and he’s tough enough without that element to his game. Manson’s move is shortly followed by Perry going to work. The resulting rebound sits in the crease forever and a day but no one is there to knock it in. Hardly surprising when you see that the Carlyle line-blender has gone to work, and Perry is out there with Antoine Vermette and Kevin Roy. You just know that Rakell would have been all over that like a fat kid on cake. Nonetheless, its a fantastic first 3-4 minutes of the period for the Ducks.
Coach Carlyle did his best to arrest the positive start, sending a woefully overmatched 4th line out onto the ice. Big Buff pushed them around like rag dolls, winding up with a big slapper from 25ft out, and then after dominating for another 30 seconds or so, a wrap around going high stick. But Gibson laughs at his futile efforts and stones him cold. Is this how Montreal and New York fans have felt all these years? We watch a wizard in action in net, and then try to find ways to get him to be the offensive presence he himself needs, because the roster is....less magical?
The Ducks once again put together a wonderful power play. Well most of one. The result of a knee on knee collision between Vermette and Josh Morrissey, the Ducks sent their all right shooting unit out there. They bloody poured it on. Vatanen to Brandon Montour seems to be a thing, or they’re the only players who know how to get open, because Montour must have had half a dozen shots alone from the circle. After just over a minute of crushing the Jets and visibly wearing them down, a missed pass allowed the jets to change and all potency was lost.
The Jets were lucky not to give up consecutive power plays, as a Morrissey change was slow. The puck hit the skate of Kyle Connor with the Jets having the extra man on the ice. Quite frankly it was an easy call to make, but it wasn't. I don't normally get on the Zebra’s a lot, but that one was an obvious call that needed to be made.
That was then the game. Perry was double shifted, Cam Fowler, and Vatanen were tasked with more carry-in’s instead of dumping the duck, and Carlyle’s line blender did its blending. Gibson was pulled with near enough to 2 minutes left. Vatanen, under a little pressure, shoveled the puck back to a 2 on 1 contest with the 1 winning it, taking a few steps and firing it into the open net. It will go down as a Vatanen turnover, but...well the Ducks need to not be losing 2 on 1 contests. Even if the game has already been decided.
The loss puts Anaheim back near .500 again, having gained 23 points in 22 games. Currently they sit on a 2 game losing streak and 4-4-2 over the past 10 games. The two back to back loses at home now have them as 1 of 5 teams with losing records at home. A far cry from previous seasons where home ice was money in the bank. With a tough road trip ahead, the Ducks will need to come out strong tomorrow night against a struggling LA Kings.