The Anaheim Ducks come up well short in the matinee game as they lose 5-2 in regulation to the Montreal Canadiens. Defensive and goaltending struggles left the Ducks taking penalties early and often. This turned into three early goals for the Canadiens and the Ducks never recovered. A strong second period push made it seem like the Ducks may have had a chance at a comeback, but luck didn’t seemed to be on their side as passes and shots were just missing. Along with continued penalties any momentum soon became stale.
The Ducks came out looking clearly as the better team, dominating the opening minutes. After leading the shots 9-1, a Kevin Bieksa penalty quickly turned the tides. A turnover down low led to former Duck, Logan Shaw, going five-hole with a loose puck in front as the Habs score first.
Just two minutes later, the Habs almost scored again. A pile up in the crease looked like a possible goal. Brenden Gallagher tried to score as Ryan Miller layed on the goal-line. The play was reviewed but without view of the puck crossing over the line, the call of no-goal stood. All of this was trivial of course, because just seconds later the Habs scored their second goal as Joe Morrow ripped a one-timer from the point to beat Miller.
The Ducks entered full collapse mode just another two minutes later. This time, the Ducks forwards got caught deep in the offensive zone and a giveaway turned into a 4-on-2 chance for the Canadiens. David Schlemko got a wrist shot off in the slot and beat Miller top left corner. This goal led to Miller being pulled, after allowing 3 goals on 7 shots, Reto Berra replacing him and the Ducks in disbelief of what went on.
The Ducks’ only priority was surviving the remaining 10 minutes and getting to the locker room to talk adjustments. The conversation couldn’t have been pretty, but it was effective (at first as the Ducks got the majority of the scoring chances, including some on the power play.)
As if mirroring the first period, however, the Ducks took a bad penalty after leading the open minutes, this one being too many men on the ice. A poorly positioned Ducks unit led to Jeff Petry getting a chance in close. He fanned on the puck but still got it to get on net. Berra, sprawling around like a mad man, dove to save the puck but his stick got caught on the net and he was unable to get down in time as the puck trickled into the net. It wasn’t pretty, but it was classic Berra.
Ducks eventually got a golden opportunity in the form of a 5-on-3 powerplay, after the Habs got called for too many men, and then Perry drew an additional penalty. They only had 15 seconds with the two-man advantage, but that’s all they needed. Rickard Rakell got a pass down low and whipped it right to Perry who redirected it over Antti Niemi. It was an identical play to the goal Ryan Kelser scored to tie the game in Ottawa just last game.
Later on, after killing yet another penalty, Nick Ritchie snuck behind the defense and got a pass from Cam Fowler for a partial breakaway. Niemi was able to come up with the pad save, but was left way out of position along with the Habs’ defenders. Rakell was able to slide in and bang home the sitting puck into a wide open net.
The Ducks continued to deliver pressure throughout the rest of the period, with Perry seeming to be a part of every scoring chance. They were just barely missing passes, and shots were getting stopped just in front of the net or going wide, as Niemi and the Canadiens rode the luck they were given today.
The third period was much of the same with the Ducks getting some pressure going and trying to mount a comeback, and then taking a unnecessary penalty to allow the Canadiens to push back. The Canadiens have a bad defense, but they showed up yesterday in the scoring. Petry scoring a late goal made it 4 goals by defensemen and a score of 5-2.
The Ducks will be back in action Monday night when they travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs at 4PM PST.
February 3, 2018