The Anaheim Ducks were looking to rebound from a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche on Monday as they finally returned home from their six-game road trip to face the Pittsburgh Penguins. This was the second half of the Bird Bowl, with the first decision going to Anaheim by a convincing 4-0 count in Pennsylvania. This time, the Ducks would allow goals to the Penguins (sigh), but they would still walk away with the two points in a very crucial win over the Pens.
Here’s a breakdown of how the Ducks once again defeated the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
The game began with Pittsburgh controlling the majority of the possession for the first two minutes, getting a couple shots on John Gibson. The Ducks would get the first power play of the game just over five minutes in after Phil Kessel was sent to the sin bin for slashing Ondrej Kase.
The Ducks power play looked to be one of the most dangerous of the season, but unfortunately, they were unable to capitalize, despite having a lot of good looks on the net. The Penguins responded with heavy pressure of their own, but John Gibson stood strong and the score remained 0-0.
Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Montour both took a seat for a brief shoving/slashing match in front of Tristan Jarry, leading to some 4-on-4 hockey for a couple minutes midway through the period. Hampus Lindholm would then join the train to the penalty box, giving the Pens a brief 4-on-3 power play.
The Ducks looked to have little trouble killing the penalty, with Chris Wagner and Cam Fowler both getting shorthanded looks on rushes. Both goalies continued holding strong to keep the game scoreless, now with about five minutes remaining in the opening frame.
The Penguins would get on the board first with just over a minute and a half to go after a Kevin Bieksa turnover (shocking!) led to Evgeni Malkin breaking free in the slot and rifling a shot past John Gibson to give Pittsburgh the lead. 1-0 Pens with 1:34 remaining in the first.
The first period came to a close with the Penguins holding the 1-0 lead over Anaheim, with the Ducks leading in shots on goal by a 14-10 count.
The Ducks would start the 2nd period with some good offensive zone pressure that led to Justin Schultz (boooooo) taking a penalty to give the Ducks their 2nd power play opportunity of the night.
The power play did not succeed, but the Ducks would finally find a way past Tristan Jarry at the 4:17 mark of the middle frame. A Francois Beauchemin slap shot from the point was tipped beautifully in front by Rickard Rakell, giving the Ducks their first goal of the game and a tie game at Honda Center. 1-1.
The Ducks would take their first lead of the game just a minute and a half later, as Adam Henrique grabbed a loose puck behind Pittsburgh’s net and wrapped it around the far side post with Tristan Jarry stuck on the opposite end. 2-1 Ducks just 5:42 into the second!
Jared Boll took a penalty to give the Penguins league-leading power play another crack at it, but it would be the Ducks that capitalized on this opportunity. Chris Wagner broke free shorthanded and slid a backhander five-hole on Tristan Jarry to double the Ducks lead. 3-1 Anaheim.
The pace of the game continued to be lightning quick, with both teams getting chances left and right. Speaking of left and right, Carl Hagelin hit both posts but did not score in arguably the best luck the Ducks have had all season.
The Ducks continued to pile on in the second period, with yet ANOTHER breakaway for Anaheim leading to the Ducks extending their lead, this time through Ondrej Kase and his incredible hands. He threw a great fake in front of Tristan Jarry, got him to bite, then pulled and roofed a backhander to give the Ducks a three-goal lead. 4-1 Ducks.
The Ducks and Pens would find themselves 4-on-4 once again as Rakell was called for high-sticking, but Kris Letang was also taken for embellishment.
The 2nd period concluded with the Ducks now leading the game 4-1, leading in shots on goal 28-21, and absolutely cruising offensively. I certainly would never have guessed that a wide open pace against the Pittsburgh Penguins would lead to such a favorable result for Anaheim in the 2nd.
The third period started with Pittsburgh controlling the opening five minutes, applying a lot of pressure in the Anaheim zone and trapping the Ducks defense on the ice for much longer shifts than they hoped to be taking.
However, this did not mean that the Ducks were done getting chances, as Adam Henrique hit the post on a partial breakaway, followed shortly after by Ondrej Kase doing the exact same thing. The lead remained 4-1 with 11:51 remaining in the final frame of regulation.
Corey Perry was called for interference against Kris Letang, and it would not take the Penguins long to make the Ducks pay for it. Phil Kessel ripped a hell of a shot from the circle that beat John Gibson over the shoulder for his 21st of the year, reducing the lead to 2. 4-2 Anaheim with 11:25 still remaining in regulation.
Antoine Vermette had a breakaway that led to a brief review, but the call of no goal would ultimately stand, leaving the Ducks lead at two. The Pens cut into it seconds after through Jake Guentzel, bringing them to within one with six minutes remaining in regulation. 4-3 Ducks.
After some nail-biting, terrifying action for six minutes, the Ducks finally iced the game with an empty netter from Hampus Lindholm with 0.2 seconds left on the clock. 5-3 Ducks, final score.
What a game, what a second period, and what a massive two points to kick off the homestand.
The Ducks will be back in action on Friday night when they host the Los Angeles Kings in what could be the most important Freeway Faceoff they have played since the playoff series.