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Ducks vs. Stars MORNING THOUGHTS: Ducks are Flying, USA is Golden!

In an epic night of hockey, the Ducks shutout the Stars and USA defeats Canada to win the Gold!

Olympics: Ice Hockey-Women Team Final - USA-CAN David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports

What a night to be a hockey fan! Four hours of non-stop hockey between the Ducks fighting for a playoff spot and the US Women’s Olympic team fighting for gold against their rival Canada. I couldn’t have written the end result any better.

An incredible defensive effort, and outstanding performance by Ryan Miller, propelled the Ducks to their 4th straight win (first time this season) and 2nd straight shutout. Flip the channel and the United States were heading to a shootout tied 2-2 with Canada. Six rounds later, USA became champions!

The Ducks are flying right now. It seems they finally are hitting stride after dealing with the plague of injuries at the start of the season. Ducks fans have gotten used to seeing a late streak from the Ducks, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Ducks currently hold a playoff spot, but it is in no way solidified. The teams behind them all have games in hand on the Ducks. Anaheim needs to keep this streak going. If they can, they’ll be a frightening team heading into the playoffs.

Best and Worst

Best - The penalty kill was unbeatable. After giving the Stars a full two minutes of 5-on-3 power play, it seemed inevitable that the Ducks would give up at least one goal. But Miller and the Ducks defense stood up to the challenge.

It was a gutsy job by our guys blocking shots. Our goaltender played phenomenal. Those are turning points in hockey games for sure.” - Ryan Getzlaf on his team’s play during the extended penalty kill.

If killing the penalties wasn’t enough, the Ducks also managed a short-handed goal during that span. It was an insane individual effort by Getzlaf. “Difficulty. Luck. Whatever you want to call it. It was a great feeling” - Getzlaf

Worst - It’s hard to nit-pick a shutout victory, but the Ducks did themselves no favors by going into a defensive shell in the last minutes of the game. They came up big with blocking shots and Miller making saves, but got outshot 24-5 in the final period (not ideal).

Best - Defense. To build off the penalty kill, the Ducks defensive effort in general was excellent. Slotting in Marcus Pettersson has really helped give the Ducks defensive depth and reduce turnovers. The Ducks also seem to be communicating better, getting into the right positions and being able to clear the zone more efficiently.

Three Stars of the Game

3. Ryan Getzlaf - A clutch performance by the Captain. Getting the primary assist on the first goal, and doing everything on the second goal. He knows the Ducks need his best efforts night-in and night-out down the final stretch, and he plans on delivering.

2. Ryan Miller - A 41 save night resulted in perfection for Miller. He faced a barrage of shots from the Stars, especially during the numerous and extended man advantages and stopped them all. He has been excellent for the Ducks this season when called upon and tonight was no different.

1. Women’s US hockey team - 20 years. That’s how long it had been since the Women’s US team has tasted gold. That ended last night (literally) as the team posed for photos while biting their medals. A thriller from start to finish, the US team accomplished the goal they set 4 years ago when they were defeated by Canada in a heart-breaker. Redemption, revenge - whatever you call it - the US finally reigned victorious!

In case you missed the USA - Canada game, here is how it finished out. Jocelyne Lamoureux with the filthy goal. Maddie Rooney with the clutch stop. USA Gold!

The Ducks will be back in action Saturday when they take on the Arizona Coyotes just days before the trade deadline. Puck drops at 4pm PST.