Saturday, December 22nd, 4:00PM PST
PPG Paints Arena
TV: FS-W, NHL.tv
Radio: AM 830
Your Enemy: Pensburgh
The Anaheim Ducks are coming off a thrilling overtime (yes, I said overtime) victory against the New York Islanders where Hampus Lindholm recorded the his first career hat-trick and Ryan Getzlaf recorded 4 assists on the night. This was just the second time in franchise history a Ducks defenseman has recorded a hat-trick, and to win the game in overtime nonetheless!
This was also a much needed win as the Ducks had lost three in a row on a crucial end-of-year road trip. The win brought them to 15-13-8 on the season and has them two points out of a wild card spot. They will look to build off this win and finish the road trip at .500 with a win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins have been inconsistent in December (going 5-5-0) but most recently beat the Blu Jackets 3-2. Like the Ducks, the Pens are also battling for a coveted wild card spot as the Metropolitan Division has a plethora of talented teams. The win over Columbus brings the Pens to 18-15-3, also two points out of a wild card spot.
All Eyes On Me
For the Ducks it’s our ever-faithful captain. Ryan Getzlaf was has consistently been our best player since claiming captaincy, and he was undeniably our biggest loss when he took the puck to the face. Since returning, he’s jumped right back into his role as our leader, and demonstrated it most recently with his 4 point night (including the primary assist on the game winner). Whoever he plays with he makes better, and whoever he plays against better be on their game.
For the Penguins, Phil Kessel has been their best player. His ability to generate, not only points, but scoring chances no matter what line he plays on is nothing short of elite (yes I’m looking at you Toronto). He paces the team in points, can score off the rush, and is downright deadly on the powerplay (20 PPP). The Ducks will need to be prepared defensively because Kessel is going to get his chances.
Keys to the Game
Score early - the Ducks have scored first in 4 of their last 5 games. Two of those games they gave up a two-goal lead and lost. Regardless, scoring first results in more victories than losses. Pittsburgh is ranked 16th in the league in goals for per game (2.89), but against a lethal offense consisting of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel, the Ducks need as many goals as they can get.
The final frame - the Ducks may have come out victorious against the Islanders, but it still marks 3 out of 4 games that they’ve given up a two-goal lead. They need to find ways to stay strong defensively and keep the momentum in their favor during the final 20 minutes if they hope to win games consistently.
As a parting gift, here is the OT winner (and hat-trick goal) by our future Norris Trophy winner.