Facing the 3rd in the Metro (tied 2nd overall in the East) Washington Capitals and their high powered offense, Anaheim looked to extend their point streak with yet more healthy bodies returning to the line-up.
Hampus Lindholm slotted back in with Josh Manson meaning Andy Welinski was scratched along with Korbininan Holzer. Surprisingly Joseph Blandisi was also scratched in favor of the mostly useless Dennis Rasmussen.
The Ducks came out playing their usual dump and chase game, with noticeable scoring opportunities within the first five minutes both involved Cam Fowler. The first, when he was given room from the point and skated right into the hash marks to make a play, and another when he snuck in along the far wall and almost got a pass across the crease to Kevin Roy.
Cam appeared to draw the short straw and was stuck with Kevin Bieska. So of course the Capitals’ best opportunity within that first five minutes was when Kevin requested Cam leave the puck for him behind the net and then proceeded to turn it over. The Caps were able to then setup Ovechkin for a one-timer from the high right circle. His shot was wide and came right to Tom Wilson who shanked it right off the post - despite having a an open net to shoot at.
It was a relatively quiet next five minutes until Getzlaf decided that passing to the front of your own net is the new “Drop Pass To Nobody In OT” hottness. The Caps proceeded to slam away at John Gibson’s pads for a few seconds until the cavalry came to clear the crease.
The fourth line had been largely unimpressive this period until the final four minutes when Logan Shaw reverse chipped the puck passed a pinching defender and set 2017-2018 All Star (lets stuff those ballot boxes y’all) Derek Grant on a 2-1 break. Grant looked off Matt Niskanen and surprised everybody by absolutely sniping it top-left corner. Don’t look now but Grant is on a 3-game point streak.
As expected we were gifted another installment of the Ducks patented “2nd Period Experience(TM)” as Anaheim turned the puck over twice in their own zone within the first 40 seconds of the middle frame. John Gibson did what he was so used to doing this season and made straight up silly saves to deny both point blank opportunities. As the period progressed the Ducks did manage to calm things down - only allowing the odd extra turn over - Gibson was forced to make another amazing stop off a redirected pass in front but other than that; it pretty plain sailing as far as the “2nd Period Experience(TM)” goes.
Midway through the 2nd, Cogliano fell by something just before we went into a commercial break, and after we returned, the Ducks had a powerplay, but on a separate hooking play drawn by Adam Henrique. Henrique won the ensuing faceoff in the Caps zone and Getzlaf got a shot through from the point that bounced around before going in for the Ducks 2-0 lead. It was awarded to Silfverberg who got a very slight touch on it on it’s way through.
Anaheim carried momentum for the rest of the frame, forcing turnovers in the neutral zone and setting up odd-man rushes. Roy almost potted one of these off a brilliant pass from Henrique and Rakell strangely chose not to shoot as he came down the left side on a separate play.
With four minutes left, the 4th line again got a 2-on-1 break, but they did not convert on this one (mostly because Rasmussen decided to pass to the late man instead of throwing it on net), though they came close.
With just over a minute left in the first Rickard Rakell made a nice drag-through-the-legs move and almost got the 3-0 lead on the back-hand but was denied by the post.
While we were busy tweeting about @JohnGibson35 and his awesomeness, he did this to Tom Wilson.— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) December 17, 2017
Yeah...he's very good! #LetsGoDucks pic.twitter.com/qazVmaJb4x
The Ducks began the third in what seemed to be a “sit on the lead” strategy which as we know, does not end well.
Three minutes in Josh Manson was looking to make a pass up the middle but appeared to fan on it slightly, giving it directly to Tom Wilson who fed Ovechkin - generating a rebound for Bakstrom to put home.
Five minutes later - the Capitals continued their momentum and generated another scoring opportunity against the Henrique-Cogliano-Rakell line. Jakob Vrana got the turnover and shot in tight - resulting in a dangerous rebound which was finished off by Kuznetsov, partially deflected by Andrew Cogliano’s stick on the way in.
The Ducks attempted to get some momentum back by utilizing their defense to generate some scoring opportunities: once, when Lindholm joined the rush on the right side but came in too tight and again, when Manson intercepted a pass in the neutral zone.
Worryingly, the Ducks’ neutral zone trap appeared to be faltering, allowing the Capitals to enter the Ducks zone at will.
The fourth line again had a glorious opportunity but Rasmussen was unable to put away a rebound in front while Brandon Montour should have been penalized on the ensuing play when he took his man out coming through the neutral zone.
Jakob Vrana used his insane speed to attempt to split the Ducks D and was boxed out/hauled down by Montour in what again might have been a missed call (or at least something the Ducks are used to going against them) and the period ended at a deadlock.
No Corey Perry in overtime again! Ryan Getzlaf did however start with Cam Fowler and Jakob Silfverberg. The Ducks had one great opportunity when Rakell was sprung on a semi breakaway and was stopped by an overly aggressive Holtby, he got to the rebound and tried to get it past the adventurous netminder but was stopped again. Montour was able to break up a Caps breakaway a moment later but then let Ovechkin wind up on his offside and his blast flew over Gibson’s shoulder for the Capitals win.
Ducks continue the road swing next in New Jersey on Monday against Sami Vatanen and the rest of Ducks-East-Lite.