In a twisted set of events, the Anaheim Ducks not only managed to outshoot their opponent, the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 4-2 win, but they also scored all but their empty net goal during the second period, a period all Ducks fans know rarely goes in the Ducks’ favor.
After finding themselves down 2-0 in the first period, the Ducks stormed back in the second, getting goals from Adam Henrique, Kiefer Sherwood, and Ondrej Kase, while outshooting the Penguins 18-9. Each team had their share of chances in the third, but it was Anaheim who came out on top after Ryan Getzlaf sealed the game with an empty-net goal.
John Gibson played to his exceptional level yet again for his 14th win of the season. With the win, the Ducks have now won 9 out of their last 10 and are riding a four-game win streak.
The Ducks came out generating the majority of the shot attempts. However, after Josh Mahura went off for a slashing penalty, it would be the Penguins that would score first. The Penguins’ top unit cycled the puck around the edges until Evgeni Malkin received a pass at the top of the left circle. He skated in with some room and fired a wrist shot that beat Gibson cleanly.
Five minutes later, the Penguins would extend their lead after Sidney Crosby put a backhand attempt that hit Bryan Rust in front. Rust was able to grab the loose puck and bang it past Gibson short side.
The Ducks came out red hot to start the second, as Ryan Kesler drew a hooking penalty fifteen seconds in giving the Ducks a power play. On the advantage, Daniel Sprong skated in low from the right side and took a sharp angle shot. The Pens goaltender, Casey DeSmith couldn’t make a clean save and the puck slid out to the opposite side where Adam Henrique was able to roof it in, cutting the lead in half.
Crosby would get called for a trip shortly after giving the Ducks yet another opportunity on the man advantage. Anaheim got a couple of chances, but the penalty was ultimately killed by the Penguins. It wouldn’t matter however, because the Ducks scored less than 30 seconds after the Pittsburgh penalty expired. The Ducks got a hold of the puck in the neutral zone and began a breakout. Carter Rowney gained the zone and set up Kiefer Sherwood who was streaking into the slot. Sherwood rifled a wrist shot past DeSmith to tie the game.
The Ducks continued to pressure from there and almost grabbed the lead after a great setup pass by Pontus Aberg. Aberg wrapped around the net and fed the puck in front to Hampus Lindholm sneaking into the slot. Lindholm one-timed it , but DeSmith was able to get in front of it for the save.
Penguins began to push back the against the Ducks’ momentum, which resulted in Rowney going off for holding. Fortunately, the Ducks looked excellent on the penalty kill, suffocating every attempt the Penguins had towards entering the zone.
The Ducks got the go-ahead goal with a minute left in the period. Getzlaf used a faceoff in the Penguins zone to take a shot on net. Ondrej Kase went straight to the net on the puck drop and was able to grab the rebound. He quickly pulled the puck to the other side and snuck it past the Penguins netminder.
The Ducks were more defensive-minded to start the period in hopes of holding the lead. This allowed the Penguins to generate some momentum. The Ducks found themselves in an unfortunate series of events during the early-goings of the third. Jakob Silfverberg tried to start a breakout but was forced to just clear the puck. While doing so, he also took a knee-on-knee hit. He limped to the bench but would later be okay. Meanwhile, the Pens were able to re-enter the zone and generate a chance, forcing Kase to take a hooking penalty.
With 17 seconds remaining in that power play, Josh Manson got called for interference making it 5-on-3 for a short stretch. Ducks managed to kill both penalties successfully, with Gibson coming up big on a couple saves including point blank opportunities from Malkin and Guentzel.
Pittsburgh would pull their goalie with over a minute remaining, but the Ducks didn’t give them a chance in their offensive zone. With just under a minute to go, Henrique won a puck battle at center ice along the boards and nudged it forward to Getzlaf. The Anaheim captain had plenty of space to skate in a backhand in the empty-netter.
Best and Worst
Best - Depth scoring. The Ducks are firing on all cylinders, and none of their fans are complaining. They continue to be able to roll their bottom-6 with confidence as they consistently generate scoring opportunities for the Ducks.
Worst- Not much in this one, other than taking more penalties than they would’ve liked. Josh Manson’s interference penalty which gave the Pens a 5-on-3 was pretty undisciplined and could’ve easily been avoided.
Best - John Gibson. It’s kind of dumb how good he really is. He comes up in the clutch moments but makes it look pretty easy. He sits 4th in wins and save percentage, and 10th in goals against average. Keep in mind this is after the Ducks had their horrendous start to the season.
Three Stars of the Game
1. John Gibson - 28 save night to help give the Ducks a 4-game win streak.
2. Ryan Getzlaf - Set up the game-winning goal and provided the back-breaking empty net goal.
3. Ondrej Kase - Game winning goal.
The Ducks will be right back on the ice tomorrow night when they face-off against the New York Rangers in a back-to-back. We could see the first start from waiver-wire addition Chad Johnson. Puck drops at 4pm PST.