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Game 4 - Ducks @ Flames RECAP: Break Out The Brooms

Anaheim finishes strong, sweep the Flames

Anaheim Ducks v Calgary Flames - Game Four Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Almost no one predicted that this series would end in a sweep. However, on Day 8 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Anaheim has become the first team in the NHL to advance to the second round after completing a sweep of the Calgary Flames.

Anaheim entered tonight’s game with momentum on their side, having put together the greatest comeback in Anaheim Ducks playoff history just two days prior. The 3-0 series lead also meant that all of the pressure was on Calgary, who needed to win just to keep their season alive for another trip to Anaheim. Sadly, for the Flames, their season ends with a handshake line in their own barn and a somber ride home.

After a poor start to Game 3, Randy Carlyle wanted his team to play with much more energy from the first drop of the puck. Anaheim responded with one of the strongest starts we have seen from them in this series. From the opening faceoff, the Ducks hounded the Flames, forcing neutral ice turnovers and very little zone time for Calgary.

A few early chances for Anaheim then bore fruit less than six minutes into the game. After a draw in the Calgary zone, Patrick Eaves retrieved the puck in the corner to Brian Elliott’s right. As he curled up the left half-boards, Eaves threw a seemingly harmless puck towards the net (I honestly don’t even think he was attempting a shot) that just found its way through the five-hole for the opening goal of the game. Elliott just seemed to lose the puck as he gave Anaheim a gift and the early lead.

Elliott was immediately pulled for Chad Johnson after the Eaves goal. Many felt like Johnson should have been given the start after Elliott’s rough performance in Game 3. Chad Johnson had only recently returned from an injury, which is why I would guess he wasn’t given the start. However, Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan made it very clear he had Elliott on a short leash with the quick hook of his starter in the first.

Anaheim didn’t let Johnson get settled before coming after him. Just a minute after getting in net, Johnson faced a hard shot from Rickard Rakell driving the left wing that forced a rebound. The puck found Nate Thompson (AKA The Alaskan Assassin) in the slot, who finished his second goal of the series to give Anaheim the 2-0 lead. All of the sudden the air seemed to have been sucked out of the Saddledome.

Anaheim then proceeded to start #Keslering on their lead. Calgary controlled much of the play for the rest of the period as John Gibson was forced to stand up to a handful of great scoring chances from the Flames.

Early in the second period, Anaheim’s playoff PK struggles reared their ugly head again as Calgary attempted to chase down the Ducks. After a particularly soft hooking call against Ryan Kesler, the Flames powerplay got them back in the game.

Sean Monahan (OMG, WHO WOULDA GUESSED IT?!) continued his extra-man dominance with his FOURTH powerplay goal of the series. An initial Monahan shot from the slot created a rebound off of Gibson which sent Anaheim’s defense into a flurry of panic. The puck then kicked out to Kris Versteeg who, again, found Monahan in the slot to tip in the goal and cut Anaheim’s lead in half.

After the Monahan goal, Anaheim made a good effort to push back at the end of the second period and early on in the third. The Ducks created pressure in the Flames zone and even created some more quality scoring chances, but were unable to get another shot behind Johnson. Anaheim went back to parking the proverbial bus halfway through the third and let Calgary come in waves.

The end of the third was extremely stressful. John Gibson made save after save, trying to preserve Anaheim’s one-goal lead, as the Ducks’ skaters seemed content to spend the rest of the game in their own zone. Calgary pulled their goaltender with under three minutes left and then forced Anaheim into a bunch of consecutive icings as they were unable to clear their zone with anything but their sticks until Ryan Getzlaf put the dagger in the Flames season.

With less than 10 seconds left, Hulkzlaf stepped up at the blue line and blocked a shot, forcing the puck out of Anaheim’s zone. Finding the puck in his feet, the captain skated it to the red line and deposited a long shot in the empty net, icing the game.

Anaheim’s 3-1 victory completes their 5th sweep in franchise history (first since 2015 Round 1 vs. WPG) and sets them up for a date with the winner of the Edmonton/San Jose series, which is tied at two games apiece.