The Anaheim Ducks were looking to keep their winning feel alive when they travelled up the road to take on the Los Angeles Kings in the first game this season of the Freeway Faceoff. Unfortunately, the game did not go as the Ducks hoped it would, as they would fall to the Kings 4-1, giving the Ducks their 8th loss in 9 games.
It seems that firing the Kings coach was just the kick in the butt the Kings needed to help them push through this game and get a win both teams very much need. I wonder if the Ducks should try something like that?
After some back and forth in the early-going, the Ducks go to they penalty kill with Andrew Cogliano getting called for a high-stick. While on the power play, the Kings get a point shot on net that John Gibson saves but gives up a rebound to the left of the net. Ilya Kovalchuk got to the puck first and sends the puck back towards the middle with a backhand. Dustin Brown was able to smack the puck mid-air to give the Kings the lead.
The Ducks would respond with some heavy pressure of their own after getting their own power play opportunity. Muzzin broke his stick on a blocked shot, essentially giving the Ducks a 5 on 3 while holding the zone almost the entire power play, but they can’t convert.
Not long after, Gibson took an awkward shot into his upper chest and right arm. After making the save, he was leaned over on the ice for a minute or so giving every Duck fan watching a panic attack. It looked to be just a stinger as Gibson stayed in net.
Two minutes later the Kings were able to extend their lead. Martine put a pass across onto Clifford’s stick as he was streaking in on net. Clifford cut to his backhand and beat Gibson as he was sliding across the crease in the opposite direction.
Five minutes into the period, King’s goalie Campbell caught the Ducks sleeping and sent a stretch pass up to Tyler Toffoli. Toffoli flipped the puck over to Kovalchuk who was all alone behind the defense. He one-timed it five hole to beat Gibson.
Really a rather uneventful middle to the period, but the Ducks did get the majority of shot attempts. They finally got on the scoreboard with about six minutes remaining in the period. Marcus Pettersson took a shot from the point and Ryan Kesler got a tip on it to redirect it past Campbell.
The Ducks weren’t without their chances in the final period. However Jack Campbell made a couple big saves against them and kept the Ducks off the scoreboard in the 3rd.
They made one last effort by pulling Gibson with a few minutes remaining on the clock. Unable to ever get any real possession in the offensive zone with the extra man, eventually Toffoli was able to get an open shot from the neutral zone and hit the empty net to erase all hope of a comeback.
Best and Worst
Best - Ducks managed to somewhat control the game a bit tonight. They not only got the majority of the shot attempts (two game in a row), they also had fewer giveaways and dominated the faceoff circle. The score didn’t play out in the Ducks’ favor, but getting more chances in the game is always a something to be happy about.
Worst - The Ducks defensemen on several occasions (and goals) found themselves out of position and allowing opponents to get behind them for odd man chances. They’ve been leaving Gibby out to dry all season in the shot category, but you can’t allow multiple open chances and partial breakaways and expect Gibson to save them all.
Best - The Ducks were actually getting some good chances in front of the net instead of just relying on fast breaks. They had multiple tips in close that most times would result in a goal. Would’ve been great to get a little more screening in front rather than just presence, but unfortunately Campbell was playing his best tonight and made some key saves.
Three Stars of the Game
1. Ryan Kesler - dominated the faceoff circle and scored the lone Ducks goal
2. Jack Campbell
3. Patrick Eaves - wasn’t able to get on the scoresheet, but had some quality chances to score. Could catch some fire once the rust finally wears off.
The Ducks will be back in action tomorrow night when they host the Calgary Flames. Puck drops at 7:30pm PST.