Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?
As is tradition for the 2016-17 Ducks, they turned what should have been a cakewalk — thanks to seven power play opportunities — into a real nail-biter.
You could fill a scholarly journal with all that went on in this one, but for the sake of conciseness, here’s the three biggest takeaways:
“Ryan Getzlaf Was A Beast”
Those were the words of NBCSN studio analyst Keith Jones after the game. While NHL studio analysis certainly isn’t a shining example of accuracy, Jones was on the money here.
Getzlaf’s fingerprints were all over this game. His booming point shot opened the scoring just 55 seconds into the game, and he later assisted on Rickard Rakell’s tally.
The scoresheet wasn’t where his contributions ended. He absolutely flattened Mark Giordano in the third period, punctuating what was an all-around excellent defensive effort from the Anaheim captain (55.17 percent Corsi at even strength).
Corey Perry Looks Engaged
It may sound overly simplistic, but there’s truth to the notion that the Ducks are a different team when Perry is on top of his game. That was certainly the case on Thursday night.
Although he didn’t register any points, the 31-year old veteran was in vintage form — agitating opponents between whistles, working the puck down low in the offensive zone, and even threading some nifty passes through the slot.
Perry’s 50 percent even strength Corsi wasn’t necessarily eye-popping, but it’s almost impressive considering that he continues to be saddled next to Antoine Vermette. Although Vermette wins a ton of faceoffs, he just hasn’t been able to drive play at five on five this year.
John Gibson Exorcising Demons
Everyone remembers how the 2015-16 playoffs went for Gibson. Or, how all of two starts went: awfully. It didn’t even seem like a sure thing that the 23-year old would start in Thursday night’s game until about a week ago, given Jonathan Bernier’s hot play.
Gibson will never be confused for a technically proficient goaltender — he expends most of his vats of energy scrambling around the crease, or reaching out in desperation to cover up a bobbled rebound. And then there’s his puckhandling, which nearly cost the Ducks a goal in the third period.
All the being said, Gibson is still a damn good goalie. As unscientific as it may sound, he just finds ways to stop pucks (as his .922 save percentage in the regular season will attest).
He shined in the third period, turning aside a number of quality scoring chances. As long as he continues that strong play, Anaheim will have a tough time losing this series.
Honorable Mentions: Ryan Kesler, Shea Theodore
Kesler may have taken the best penalty of his career with only seconds left on the clock, sitting on the puck to milk nearly the entirety of the remaining time. He was sent to the box for delay of game, but he’d surely tell you that he would do it all over again.
Ryan Kesler, sitting Duck pic.twitter.com/8vqr30nkrS— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 14, 2017
Theodore looked every bit the highly-touted prospect that we’ve heard about over the years. He assisted on two goals while posting a respectable 56.67 Corsi at even strength. The 21-year old didn’t seem all that concerned with making mistakes, instead playing a confident, uninhibited game.