The Anaheim Ducks rebounded nicely from their 4-1 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes with a 6-5 victory over the New Jersey Devils, requiring a shootout to do so. The game was not the best defensively for either team, but there were lots of shots, lots of opportunities, and lots of goals.
The first period alone saw three goals in the opening four minutes of the game and ended up in a 3-3 tie after the opening 20 minutes. Kiefer Sherwood and Ondrej Kase both scored lucky goals that ended up deflecting off Devils players on their way into the net, and it was nice to see the Ducks getting rewarded for putting more pucks in front of the net.
It has been a nice relief to see in recent games that while the Ducks still have quite a bit of work to do in the shot prevention category, they have been able to keep up and at least generate chances of their own more often and with more stability.
The Ducks looked better in the neutral zone against New Jersey than they have in a while, and it led to a lot of quick zone entries and a few odd-man rushes. Again, defensively, they could have been a lot better, as New Jersey had a lot of similar opportunities throughout the game.
Best & Worst
Luck - The Ducks scored three of their five goals last night by way of having the puck last touched by a New Jersey player before it beat Cory Schneider. It certainly was a lot of fun to finally see a lot of that luck go towards the Ducks’ way for a change.
Daniel Sprong - Daniel Sprong didn’t really make a whole lot of noise in the game, but his shootout goal made him 1 for 1 in his career in shootouts and I think the Ducks may have another skilled shootout option for when those times come. Shootouts may seem silly to a lot of hockey fans, but those points can make or break the playoffs for teams, come April.
John Gibson - Gibson came on in relief of Ryan Miller after he was injured in the 3rd period and made a few great saves to get the Ducks their two points. He allowed zero goals in the shootout, even though Taylor Hall rang one strongly off the crossbar on the Devils’ 2nd attempt.
Ryan Miller’s Injury - It’s never good to see a player go down with injury, but in the case of the Anaheim Ducks, you DEFINITELY don’t want that person to be a goaltender. Bob Murray just recognized in an interview this week that goaltending has been the leading cause of the Ducks’ ability to win games and keep themselves in a solid spot in the standings. John Gibson may have to carry the workload for an extended period of time if Miller needs that time for recovery.
Special Teams - In fairness, the Ducks only had one power play opportunity in the game against New Jersey. However, that power play looked pretty abysmal and did not really generate any dangerous chances at all. The penalty kill was 2 for 3 in the game, and that isn’t really special either. The team should definitely continue focusing on making those more efficient in their practices.
Ex-Ducks - I am one who will always miss Kyle Palmieri in a Ducks sweater. I loved him in Anaheim and was very sad to see him go when the Devils acquired him. I was also very sad to see him score New Jersey’s first two goals against the Ducks last night. Luckily for Anaheim, other ex-Ducks Ben Lovejoy and Stefan Noesen were both involved in pucks that were directed in behind Cory Schneider for Ducks goals. So, all is forgiven, I suppose.
3 Stars of the Game
3. Ryan Getzlaf
2. Brandon Montour
1. Ondrej Kase