The Anaheim Ducks took us on a wild roller coaster of a game last night against the Dallas Stars. They ended it on the high note we all wanted with a 6-3 victory. The Ducks now have won seven of the last eight games played while scoring 3+ goals in six of those wins, as well as six goals for the second straight game. With the win, they also put themselves back into second place in the Pacific Division as they get ready for a five-game road trip.
The Ducks got on the board early after starting fast and controlling play during the first period. Then they came out in the second getting beat in every area, going down 3-1, and misleading most Ducks fans to think the game could be over. They were, however, able to get a goal late in the second. By the time the third period rolled in, a man named Ondrej Kase had something to say. He scored the game-tying goal as well as completing his first career hat-trick. It was utter Ducks dominance from there. The Stars honestly looked like they were just trying to survive the game without letting in any more goals.
The Ducks scored the first goal of the game just six minutes in. The Ducks brought a strong forecheck from Ryan Getzlaf and Ondrej Kase, forcing a turnover to Pontus Aberg in the Stars’ zone. Aberg got the puck on the right wing, faked the shot, and sent a pass across to Kase, who wasted no time putting it in the net.
About at the halfway point of the first, the Ducks took their first penalty of the game with Jake Dotchin going off for a tripping. The penalty kill was lights out though. They choked in on Dallas in every zone, keeping them from generating any control, and resulting in no shots for Dallas.
Ben Bishop had a “I don’t know what I’m doing” moment when he almost gave another goal to the Ducks. A race to an open puck in the Stars zone occurred. Bishop skated out to play it but instead of using his stick he just jumped on it. Unable to hold the puck, since he was a good ten feet in front of the crease, he stupidly swatted the puck between his legs and toward the empty net. Fortunately for him, a Stars’ defensemen was able keep Kiefer Sherwood off the puck and swatted it away.
The Ducks ended the period out shooting the Stars 15-5 but were in for a crude second period.
The Ducks took their second penalty five minutes into the second period. This time, the Stars controlled the puck in the Ducks’ zone for the entirety of their power play. John Gibson made a few great saves off redirects, and Josh Manson and Brandon Montour both made goal-saving plays, but the Ducks just couldn’t clear the puck. With 13 seconds remaining in the penalty, the puck was sent to the point where Miro Heiskanen ripped a slap shot that beat Gibson, tying the game.
Just two minutes later, the Stars played into an odd-man rush. Devin Shore fed a pass across to Blake Comeau, who tapped it in for the lead. The Ducks troubles were far from over however.
(Editor’s Note: At this point, Randy Carlyle called a time-out. Yup—a second period time-out folks. He was extremely livid and and was very animated as I am sure he had some choice words for his players. Was it a good decision to take this time-out? Reevaluate the question as the period wraps up.)
Alexander Radulov began another breakout with the Ducks defensemen out of position. He turned on the jets for a breakaway opportunity. Streaking down the right side, he did a little stick handling before trying to score with a wrist shot. Gibson came up with the big save to keep the Ducks at the two goal deficit.
With the next puck drop, Nick Ritchie took a dumb high-sticking penalty as the Ducks entered the offensive zone, giving the Stars yet another power play. Radulov got another opportunity and wouldn’t be stopped this time. While on the man-advantage, he perfectly sniped it far corner, making it 3-1 Stars.
The Ducks finally received a power play of their own late in the period after a tripping call against the Stars. The Ducks couldn’t convert on the power play, but just as it ended, Getzlaf forced a turnover in the offensive zone and fed it to Kase in the slot. Kase sniped it top shelf for his second on the night. This was also Ryan Getzlaf’s 900th NHL point.
The third period started with some back-and-forth with both teams getting some quality chances. But the halfway mark hit and the Ducks turned it on.
Can you say hat trick ONDREJ KASE?! The Ducks put immense pressure on the Stars and it was only a matter of time before someone cashed in. Getzlaf got the puck down to Kase behind the net, who fed it in front to Ritchie. Ritchie tried whacking at it, but the puck got loose. It slid out to Kase on the left side and he ripped it on net, sneaking it past the only hole Bishop left exposed.
The Ducks went into full throttle mode at this point and absolutely dominated play. The Stars were doing literally everything just to keep the puck out of the net and slow the Ducks’ momentum, but it did not work.
More chaos in front of the net led to multiple chances for the Ducks. Montour activated on the right side and tried to pass, but when the pass was disrupted and sent back to him. The series of events left Bishop out of position, allowing Montour to shoot at virtually an empty net giving the Ducks a two-goal lead.
The Ducks wouldn’t let up however. Shortly after, Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg sprung into an odd-man rush. Cogliano gave Silfverberg a beautiful lead pass. Although Silfverberg got tangled up by a Stars defensemen, the puck still went in after going off Silfverberg’s skate. The ref initially ruled it a no-goal due to kicking, but after video review, it was clear there was no kicking motion, ruling it a good goal!
Dallas at this point couldn’t stand playing 5 on 5 defense anymore, so they pulled the goalie with four minutes remaining in the period. After a couple icing calls from the Ducks shooting 200 feet at an empty net, the Stars did get a good chance. A shot from the point made it on net but Gibson couldn’t glove it cleanly. Jamie Benn herded the loose puck along the right side of the net and got a couple whacks at it. Gibson was on his back at this point, but was able to keep his glove over and keep the puck out.
With 30 seconds remaining, Hampus Lindholm sent a backhander from the Ducks zone, hitting the empty net to really seal the deal.
Here’s the hat trick by Kase again, with sound for those that want the added excitement.
Best and Worst
Best - Top line dominance. The top line of Aberg, Getzlaf, and Kase was overwhelmingly good and the Stars couldn’t come up with an answer. It seemed like every time they got on the ice, they would either score a goal or start a good forecheck that would trickle into continued pressure from the other Ducks lines. Carlyle was getting them on the ice every chance he could. Kase seemed to be everywhere and got numerous scoring chances in addition to the hatty.
Worst - Second Periods. For some stupid, infuriating reason, the Ducks do not like second periods of hockey. They have been bad for years, and were downright terrible for most of it last night. After out shooting the Stars 15-5 in the first period, it took less than ten minutes for the Stars to be out shooting the Ducks. The Ducks wouldn’t even get their first shot of the period until after the halfway mark. Something has got to give.
Best - Third period resilience. Much like being bad during the second, the Ducks are known for being the comeback team in the third period. They did it against the Stars last night, giving them six third-period comebacks on the season (most in the NHL). It’s not an ideal situation to be down in the third, but it’s great to know the Ducks have the confidence and resilience to push back and find ways to win.
Three Stars of the Game
1. Ondrej Kase. Duh. Recorded his first career hat trick and carried the Ducks until late in the third period.
2. Ryan Getzlaf. The Ducks captain now has 900 points in the NHL. Selanne is the only other Duck to be above 900 points. He’s our fearless leader!
3. Brandon Montour. Four point, three assist night, all coming in the final period.
The Ducks embark on a five game road trip now. Hopefully they can keep the momentum going as the Pacific Division seems to be waking up a little bit, with lots of teams getting wins. Their first matchup will be against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Puck drops at 4pm PST.