On a night that saw the Ducks wear their 2007 Stanley Cup Championship jerseys for warmups and have the Finnish Flash himself, Teemu Selanne, drop the ceremonial puck, and show the heart-pumping “Ladies and Gentlemen” intro video from that season, Anaheim would make sure this would not be a boring game, for better or for worse.
The Ducks opened the game skating well and actually completing most of their passes! It’s a little telling that this is worth calling out, but you’ve got to hold onto the little positive things in life.
About halfway through the period, Rickard Rakell would chip a puck in mid air heading toward the slot. Ondrej Kase provided additional pressure that led Derrick Pouliot to weakly try and clear the puck. Unfortunately for him, he would clear the puck right to the trailing Ryan Getzlaf, who pulled it between his legs to get around Granlund and put it in on the backhand. 1-0 Ducks and a highlight-reel goal for the captain.
The period finished with a flurry of chances for both sides, including the two teams trading opportunities off the post from Loui Eriksson and Jakob Silfverberg on consecutive rushes.
Anaheim apparently didn’t realize the middle frame had begun, as Vancouver controlled the first few minutes with several shot attempts and scoring chances. Chasing the puck around their own zone would lead to a defensive breakdown off a lost faceoff. Sam Gagner picked up Pouliot streaking down the wing into open ice on the left side and sauced a perfect pass to him. John Gibson had no chance. Tied at 1.
After a Troy Stecher interference penalty on Brian Gibbons, Anaheim would get a chance to try and work on their anemic power play. Kesler picked up a loose puck and sent it to Jakob Silfverberg, who was inexplicably forgotten about in front of the net. With all day and a half, Markstrom laid out and robbed him twice. Luckily, the effort would not be in vain, as Josh Mahura, playing in his second NHL game quarterbacking the 2nd power play unit, passed to Ondrej Kase at the top of the circle. The Czech winger walked up and fired the puck over the left pad and under the glove of Markstrom to give the Ducks a power play goal and the lead.
Anaheim would get a couple more chances, including one from Pontus Aberg as well as a failed Andrew Cogliano breakaway (drink). But they held on to the lead.
Pouliot, he of alternating help or hurt on a shift by shift basis, would head to the sin bin for closing his hand on the puck. Aberg got a glorious chance by pulling a beautiful toe drag in for a shot that was blocked. Rakell picked up the puck, dropped it for Adam Henrique, who walked up and delivered it into the open corner of the net that Markstrom had neglected moments after the power play expired. The Canucks goaltender didn’t even react, immediately recognizing his mistake. 3-1 Ducks
Just a minute later, the Canucks would cut the lead in half. Jake Virtanen picked up a puck by the boards and threw it on net. Nikolay Goldobin skating in front got a touch on it with his foot and put it by Gibson. It was one of those goals that you could chalk up to bad puck luck more than anything else. 3-2 Ducks.
The Ducks 4th line would eventually get on the board after some great teamwork by all three forwards on that line. Nick Ritchie put pressure on a puck down low, pulled it from the mess of Canucks defensemen, and got it to Brian Gibbons. Gibbons picked his head up and saw Kalle Kossila open on the other side of the net. He delivered a perfect saucer pass over the stick of Chris Tanev. All Kossila had to do was lay his stick on the ice for the redirect into the net, giving him his 2nd NHL goal and first of the season. Gibbons also picked up his first point as a Duck on the assist.
While Ritchie had been one of the better players for Anaheim during the game, his tendency to take dumb penalties at inopportune times reared its ugly head again. After picking a fight with Virtanen, number 37 was sent to the box. The Canucks would make him pay, as Goldobin fired the pick right onto the stick of Bo Horvat barreling into the slot, tipping the puck into the net and giving the Ducks plenty of cold sweats.
Despite a flurry of chances with Markstrom pulled at the end of the game, the Ducks were able to hang on for the 4-3 win to snap a three game losing streak. With the win, Anaheim somehow find themselves currently sitting in the 3rd spot of the Pacific Division. The benefits of playing in a division that makes dumpster fires look like harmless candles!
Best: Lethal top line
The Ducks’ top line has looked great for several games now, but ever since last game when Ondrej Kase was slotted alongside Rakell and Getzlaf, that trio has looked like they could score at any moment. Since they’ve become a regular unit, they’ve controlled more than 55% of the shot attempts and scoring chances. They also have 2 goals for and 1 against at 5 on 5. More of them, please.
Worst: More defensive holes than Swiss cheese
It’s not like the Ducks were playing good defense before, but the absence of Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm definitely makes it worse. At this point, it looks like the best defensive strategy for Anaheim would be to just keep the puck out of their own zone for as long as possible. Not sure how likely that is given the systems in place from the man behind the bench. At least they played high event hockey tonight, which is almost always entertaining.
Best: Uncle Rico might be heating up
Let’s face it, the Ducks need offense to come from more places than just Ryan Getzlaf. With Kesler looking like last year’s hobbled centerman after a hot start to the season, the Ducks would certainly appreciate Henrique stepping up and contributing. Tonight’s goal gave him a point in his 3rd straight game and was his first goal since November 7th against the Calgary Flames.
3. Adam Henrique
2. Ondrej Kase
1. Ryan Getzlaf