In honor of Thompson’s recent return and Kase being scratched for noted “gritters” Boll and Shaw, this recap will feature way too many hockey clichés.
Carlyle preached the necessity of coming out strong to start the two-week road trip. It was key to have the team’s veteran players come out and give 110%. Without their help, there was no would be no appropriate example for the young guys to follow.
Hampus Lindholm opened the scoring at 9:39 on 4v4 play. The Swede earned his 4th of the year immediately after the offensive zone faceoff win. He knew that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take and let off a wrister from the point. Vermette used all of his leadership qualities to win a clean faceoff and head straight to the goal.
Apparently the all-important first goal is overrated because Florida scored 13 seconds later. Reilly Smith went hard to the net, kept his stick down, and banged home a Demers pass. Anaheim may have forgotten that the shift following a goal is always key.
With four seconds left, Getzlaf and Petrovic tried to drop the mitts after the Captain rocked Trochek with a booming hit behind the Florida goal. Then all the sudden the Ducks realized that hockey is a brotherhood, and Manson came in with his gloves off ready to step in. It was disappointing that the shenanigans came so late in the period since both teams would have benefitted from the testosterone spike. Science, I guess.
Paul MacLain stressed initiating body contact and getting in on the forecheck. The coaching staff wanted the Ducks to get pucks in deep and get the cycle game going.
Unfortunately that never happened for most of the second frame. Florida controlled the puck and got the majority of the early chances. Jaromir Jagr almost scored a wrap around goal into an empty net, but everyone’s (current) favorite Finn Sami Vatanen knocked the puck away at the last second.
Kevin Bieksa’s intangibles are keeping him in the lineup. Apparently one of those mystery qualities is losing fights. With Josh Manson and Holzer stuck in the box in addition to Vatanen in the locker room, Anaheim was down to three defensemen for 1:55 of 5v3 play. The only reason the team managed to kill off both penalties was their goaltender. Often times your goalie has to be (but should never be forced to be) the best player on the ice. The Ducks would be better suited to attempt to play offense.
Back to Bieksa—could he maybe not? The rangy defender tried to push a streaking Florida forward into the boards but thought it would be better to let him slip by resulting on a mini 2 on 1. Fowler had to come over and hope Bieksa could recover. He didn’t. In his first game back from injury, Jonathan Huberdeau scored a true goal scorers goal and beat Gibson top corner. This made the game 2-1 in favor of the Panthers.
Heading into the period, the Ducks needed to overcome the adversity of being down to 5 defensemen. Early on, Corey Perry had the chance of a lifetime. Reimer was miles out of position but Perry’s shot deflected off the iron. Thus continues the unluckiest season for an individual player in recent memory. With their backs against the wall Anaheim was unable to muster up many significant scoring chances against Reimer.
The clock soon became Anaheim’s biggest enemy. In the final minute, Perry again had a chance to tie the game. However, the Florida goaltender was able to follow his bad rebound and make a solid save. It was clear that the Ducks had no answer for the Panther’s stifling, third period defense. Anaheim only put three shots on goal in the last twenty minutes.
After a decent first period, Anaheim failed to put together a full 60-minute effort. Florida just wanted it more.
The Ducks will be back in action tomorrow night against against the Lightning in Tampa Bay.