Anaheim traveled to Vegas to take on the Golden Knights, the best team in the NHL. Vegas has the second best offense in the league, and the Ducks desperately needed two points to remain in a playoff position. The Ducks had lost the previous three meetings against the Golden Knights who also posses the best home record in the NHL. Here is a period breakdown of the game.
Both teams opened up the period feeling one another out. The first shot in the game came courtesy of Vegas and didn’t happen until five minutes into the period. The Ducks wouldn’t register their first shot until 8:22 into the opening frame. The pace of play felt like a playoff game with both teams doing their best to not cough up the puck. Moments later the Ducks would get a great scoring chance with Ryan Getzlaf breaking into the neutral zone and finding a streaking Rickard Rakell who forced Marc-Andre Fleury to make a point blank save.
At the 13:32 mark, Anaheim would finally get their third shot and first goal of the game. Andrew Cogliano would control the puck behind the Golden Knight’s net and work it back to the blue line where he would shoot it and have it redirected by Jakob Silfverberg past Fluery. Silfverberg and Ryan Kesler provided a great screen in front of Fleury who didn’t have a chance. 1-0 Ducks.
John Gibson wouldn’t be challenged much until late in the period when he would be forced to make a sliding save on a Jonathan Marchessault offering on a 2-on-1 breakaway. Shortly after, Hampus Lindholm would attempt to knock down the puck with his hand and almost inadvertently knock it past Gibson causing Duck’s fans to hold their breath.
The period would come to and end with the Ducks maintaining a 1-0 lead, although they would be outshot 8-4. For the most part, the Ducks played well defensively and had the majority of outnumbered attacks.
The second period continued with playoff-like intensity. The Golden Knights would apply most of the early pressure which helped them create the first penalty of the game. Antoine Vermette would get called for hooking at the 4:05 mark. The Ducks would successfully kill off the penalty even though Vegas had several solid chances but would be unable to get clean shots on net.
At 16:49, the Ducks seemingly would add to their lead when Getzlaf beat Fleury who leaned to his right anticipating Getzlaf to make a pass. Getzlaf would slap it easily into an open net. 2-0 Ducks. BUT NOT SO FAST! Vegas would challenge the play for being offside, and the zebras would agree that Rakell was a half-inch offside disallowing the goal. (I guess the odds are really in the house’s favor.)
With only three seconds left in the period, Gibson would fall to the ice after being clipped in the left skate by Reilly Smith’s stick. He would be tended to by trainers and would remain in net to finish the period.
It would be a tight checking period with Vegas maintaining the shot advantage at 13-12. Yet the Ducks would continue to hold a 1-0 lead.
Gibson would not return to start the period allowing Ryan Miller to enter the game. Miller would be tested early as Adam Henrique would cough up the puck in his own zone allowing Cody Eakin a point blank opportunity that Miller would successfully handle.
At 6:21 Kesler and Marchessault would be handed coincidental minors forcing both teams to play 4-on-4 hockey. Shortly after, at 7:01, Getzlaf would get redemption and cash in a goal that would count. Josh Manson would win a battle on the boards and flip the puck to Getzlaf who would throw it in on net where Manson would redirect it in and get credit for the goal. 2-0 Ducks....AGAIN.
Anaheim continued the pressure and didn’t resort into their typical “turtling” style of play with a lead. The Ducks would draw another penalty at 13:59 (Shocker). Cogliano would serve a slashing penalty allowing Vegas an opportunity to capture some momentum. Anaheim’s penalty kill would be up to the challenge however only allowing two shots on net and a Machessault crossbar deflection that had beaten Miller up high.
With under three minutes to play, Vegas would pull Fleury for an extra attacker. The Golden Knights would make a final push forcing Miller to make the save of the game at 2:29. Miller would rob Tomas Hyka with a beautiful glove save who was all alone on the doorstep. The Golden Knights would continue to make a push but would eventually the horn would sound and the Ducks would skate off victorious. Miller and Gibson would combine for the franchises second ever combined shutout.
The Ducks captured a crucial two points on the road against the top team in the NHL and remained in a playoff spot and possibly stayed involved for the trade deadline.
Anaheim will return to the Honda Center on Wednesday to host the Dallas Stars at 7PM PST.