The Anaheim Ducks captured a much needed two points Monday night as they took down the top seeded Vegas Golden Knights. It was the first time in the four meetings that the Ducks had finally figured out the Golden Knights who represent one of the best records at home in the NHL and lost to a Pacific foe for only the third time this season. Needless to say the odds were against the Ducks in this one, but their play didn’t show any signs of doubt as they wrapped up their four game road trip with a 3-1 record.
For much of the game the Ducks pressured the Knights and didn’t allow them to make many clean shots by clogging up shooting lanes. The game had a very playoff-like intensity to it with each team tightly checking to limit shots on net. Anaheim would be the only team to find any offensive production in the game as they would receive goals from Jakob Silfverberg in the first period and Josh Manson in the third period. Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell would factor into the goals with assists, which is a great sign since both have been absent from the point sheet for several games.
John Gibson was injured late in the second period as he was interfered with and fell to the ice. At first it appeared that Gibson would shake off another lower-body injury, however he wouldn't return to start the third period. Taking on a team who’s the second best in the league in offensive production (200 goals for), Gibson was able to stop all 13 shots he faced in the first two periods. Miller would come in to close out the game and would stand up to the challenge and stop all 20 shots he faced to give the Ducks their second combined shutout in franchise history. This allowed the Ducks to remain in the third spot in the West and maintain a playoff spot for the time being.
Best & Worst
BEST - Team effort. For much of this season the Ducks haven’t either played a full 60-minute game, or haven’t received a full team effort on the ice. Although there aren’t many “perfect” games during the season, the Ducks did a great job limiting penalties by staying disciplined and limiting mistakes that can often be the deciding factor in close contested games such as this one.
“That was a better game for us. I think it’s one of the better games we played in a while. It’s something we’ve got to bring every game.” - Josh Manson
“We did a really good job of guys maybe not closest to the puck working harder to get there to support. It’s not only the one guy that’s chasing the puck carrier that’s moving. It’s more working as a five-man unit. When you do that, you turn pucks over and you limit space for the other team.” - Jakob Silfverberg
The play of John Gibson and Ryan Miller. Getting only the second ever combined shutout in franchise history is a great feat. To do so against the best team in the NHL, and the second best offensive team, while on the road to remain alive for the playoffs is even a greater accomplishment. As solid as Gibson looked in the opening two periods, Miller was even more spectacular considering the situation. Miller would end up facing 7 more shots in his one period of work than Gibson did in the opening 40-minutes. Miller didn’t seem phased being thrown into the fire and was called upon immediately to make an impact.
WORST - Referees. The Ducks did not receive a single power play opportunity in the game. Although Vegas is second best in the league in penalty minutes per game (6:47), they didn’t play a clean game to remain out of the sin bin. There were plenty of marginal plays that could have been called either way, but the most noticeable one was when Reilly Smith ran into John Gibson taking him down and ultimately taking him out of the game. Even though it was incidental, a player in Smith’s position needs to make every attempt possible to avoid contact with the netminder. The fact there wasn’t a call made on the play continues a frustrating pattern for Anaheim this season.
Three Stars Of The Game
3. Rickard Rakell - 2 assists
2. John Gibson - 13 saves, 1⁄2 shutout
1. Ryan Miller - 20 saves, 1⁄2 shutout
The Ducks will return home Wednesday night as they host the Dallas Stars at 7PM PST.
Will the Ducks secure a playoff seed?
This poll is closed
Maybe, but will need help from other teams down the stretch.