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Ducks vs. Flames RECAP: Anaheim’s comeback goes up in smoke.

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Ducks slow start and late mistakes halt valiant comeback.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Anaheim traveled to Calgary to take on the Flames in their third matchup of the season. This will be the Ducks first time visiting Calgary since they swept the Flames in the first round of the playoffs last season. Making a return for the Ducks will be Corey Perry as he had missed the last 11 games with a knee injury. This will mark the first time all season that the Ducks will have Perry, Getzlaf and Kesler in their lineup. Here’s a period breakdown of the game.

1ST PERIOD

John Gibson would be tested less than one minute into the first period as he was forced to rob Mark Giordano who had a point blank opportunity. Calgary would continue to be relentless for much of the opening period. The Flames controlled the physical play and won the early puck battles not allowing Anaheim to set up in the offensive zone. The Ducks were forced to dump pucks into the Calgary zone allowing goalie Mike Smith to easily handle the puck and make smart plays.

At the 7:51 mark, a careless turnover from Brandon Montour in the defensive zone would allow Johnny Gaudreau to pounce on the puck and pass it to a charging Micheal Ferland who easily beat Gibson from the slot.

Less than a minute later, the Flames would take a 2-0 lead. Another Ducks turnover in the defensive zone allowed Mark Giordano to throw the puck in on net which was redirected by Kevin Bieksa’s skate as he was trying to get out of the way.

At 18:03, Cam Fowler would draw a hooking penalty on Sam Bennett. The Ducks would get their first power play of the game with a 4-on-3 advantage. The majority of the man advantage looked solid with crisp puck movement and several scoring chances, however Mike Smith denied any Ducks opportunity allowing the Flames to close out the period with their lead intact.

Overall the Flames controlled the period from the scoreboard to time of possession and a 17-8 shot advantage.

2ND PERIOD

The second period opened up the same way as the first did with the Flames applying pressure in the Ducks zone. Ryan Getzlaf would be forced to take a hooking penalty preventing a third Calgary goal and allowing the Flames to get the first power play opportunity just 22 seconds into the period. Although the Ducks had a difficult time cleanly clearing the puck and committing turnovers, they successfully killed off the man advantage.

Both teams would trade scoring chances during line changes highlighted by a Jakob Silfverberg breakaway in which he beat Smith between his arm and body only being denied by the far post.

With Anaheim generating more pressure, Fowler would draw a slashing penalty on Gaudreau at 4:36. The Ducks power play again looked solid with great puck movement but Smith would continue to stand tall in net denying any opportunity.

Sean Monahan would be the next Flames player to give the Ducks a man advantage when he was called for an interference penalty on Logan Shaw. However, the Ducks wouldn’t be able to cleanly gain entry into the offensive zone and the Flames would easily kill off the penalty.

With one minute left in the period, things would get a bit heated when Derek Grant clipped Smith’s leg behind the Calgary net as he played the puck. Grant would end up being attacked by several Flames players and would eventually square off against Garnet Hathaway. Josh Manson would get tied up with Sam Bennett a few feet away as both players would trade haymakers. Needless to say neither of these teams care for one another.

As the period came to an end, Perry would bump shoulders with Smith as both players exited the ice which created another heated exchange between both teams.

The Ducks played a much better middle frame and closed the shots gap to 24-19 in favor of Calgary. Although the Ducks played much better than the first period, they still were unable to solve goalie Mike Smith.

3RD PERIOD

The third period opened up with a sigh of relief for Ducks fans as Ryan Kesler returned to the ice after leaving earlier in the second period with what was considered a lower-body injury.

At 1:53 Francois Beauchemin would be called for high sticking against Matthew Tkachuk. Beauchemin would draw blood giving Calgary a 4-minute power play. Even with the man advantage, Anaheim was able to continue to apply pressure and force turnovers. Jakob Silfverber would charged up ice with Andrew Cogliano after a Calgary turnover creating a 2-on-2 rush and beating Smith for a short handed goal which cut the lead in half. 2-1 Flames.

Silverberg would hit the post later in the penalty kill as he beat Smith glove side being inches away from tying the game.

The Ducks would eventually kill off the penalty with the better of the scoring chances. With the added momentum they were able to find the equalizer as Hampus Lindholm would move the puck deep into Calgary ice and make a pass up the middle to Getzlaf for a one timer that Smith had absolutely no chance of stopping at 6:50 of the period. All tied up 2-2.

At 11:57 Antoine Vermette would be called for hooking Bennett allowing Calgary another chance to regain the lead. The Ducks penalty kill would once again deny the Flames.

Anaheim continued to own the period but a costly neutral zone turnover late in the period would decide the game. With 16 seconds left in regulation Ferland would make a beautiful backhand pass to a wide open Dougie Hamilton who would beat Gibson and extinguish the Ducks chances at a comeback.

In the blink of an eye, the Ducks hard work to fight and claw their way back would be for nothing. Just like the game started, it would also end with the Ducks making costly mistakes and turnovers letting a much needed two points slip away to a division rival. To lose in such a fashion will certainly leave an unpleasant impression as the Ducks will serve their mandatory five game break.

Anaheim will return to the ice Saturday, January 13th as they take on their cross-town rivals the Los Angeles Kings at 7:30PM PST.