The Ducks ended the road trip with the first half of an away-home back to back, visiting the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena for the first time in franchise history.
Anaheim was likely suffering from some PTSD from the 49 SOG shellacking they received at the hands of Vegas two weeks ago at Honda Center. The team came out with good legs and opened up the game as they traded chances with Vegas up and down the ice. John Gibson, our lord and savior, kept the game 1-0 on what is easily an early contender for save of the year on this mind-numbingly brilliant robbery of Tuch on a 2-on-1 break.
However, all of it would be for naught late in the period, as the Ducks defense has a catastrophic breakdown on two separate occasions in the span of 16 seconds.
James Neal had an open net and while Gibson looked like he got a piece of it, the puck popped in the air and floated into the net behind him as there was no Ducks defender to be seen.
Oscar Lindberg made it 2-0 moments after on almost the exact same goal popping into the air and falling behind Gibson.
Not a great way to end a period against a team that can skate circles around you.
The middle frame started much better than the opening one. After a face-off win in the offensive zone, the puck went Brandon Montour who fed it to Francois Beauchemin who proved he could still pull off his patented booming snapshot from the point. Antonie Vermette had the screen in front to make life difficult for Vegas goalie Malcom Subban. 2-1 Ducks.
4 minutes later, Anaheim would tie it after Kevin Bieksa (wait, wat?!) sent the puck on net with Vermette getting a touch on the rubber.
Anaheim put 2 of their first 3 shots into the back of the net in those first five minutes.
S U S T A I N A B L E— Anaheim Calling (@AnaheimCalling) December 6, 2017
Anaheim sustained much better pressure and did a fantastic job limiting shots on John Gibson, which is a sentence I didn’t think was possible to write lately, but here we are.
With around 4 minutes left in the period, new Duck Adam Henrique found Perry cherry-picking the defense at the blue line. Rico delivered a perfect strike up the middle and Perry pulled off the gangster move of unloading a bomb of a snapshot on the breakaway to give the Ducks the lead.
That assist gave Rico his 3rd in three straight games for the new club. Bob Murray has been on a roll the last couple of seasons with immediately impactful trades.
The final frame began with the Ducks pulling off their signature move of turtling on a lead they apparently thought their broken and battered bodies could protect. Remember, the Ducks, while getting Rickard Rakell back, were without the services of fellow Swedes Jakob Silfverberg and Hampus Lindholm.
Later in the period, however, the Ducks turned their strategy towards clogging the neutral zone, not allowing Vegas skaters to gain clean entry into the zone and forcing them to dump the puck more than they would have liked.
However, the strategy of sitting on leads would come back to haunt the Ducks again as Erik Haula tapped in a puck from Neal as Gibson didn’t quite seal off the short side. Game tied at 3.
The goal gave the Golden Knights life as they proceeded to get a litany of chances against Gibson, but the netminder successfully got the Ducks the point to go to OT against the speedy Vegas tea-ah crap.
Vegas flexed their speed and possession muscles by getting several good chances to begin the extra frame.
The Ducks then got a golden 3-on-1 chance, but Kase neglected to pass the puck to either shooting option and was robbed by Malcom Subban’s glove.
Anaheim eventually caught a break as Tuch tripped Rakell, giving the Ducks a 4 on 3 advantage for two minutes. They came oh-so-close to winning it when Rakell’s pass to find Perry went through Subban and hit the post.
Vegas would eventually kill off the penalty as Subban shut down Montour’s one-timer as time on the penalty expired, as well as the overtime frame without a goal.
Ducks all stopped. Tuch with the lone goal. Vegas wins 4-3. The loser point keeps Anaheim afloat.
Anaheim returns home tomorrow to take on the Ottawa Senators.