The Anaheim Ducks were able to get themselves back into a playoff spot tonight with a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. After scoring just one minute in, the Ducks never gave the lead back and they dominated the shot totals and scoring chances. The Devils helped out the Ducks in numerous ways this weekend. Just last night the Devils beat the Los Angeles Kings in regulation to keep them tied with the Ducks in points. And with Anaheim winning tonight, they not only got a playoff spot, but also leap-frogged the Kings for third place in the Pacific.
Just 1:14 was all it took for the Ducks to take advantage of a team playing a back-to-back. Corey Perry received a stretch pass to create an odd-man rush. He hits the brakes and passes to an open Rickard Rakell for a point blank chance. Keith Kinkaid (also playing a back-to-back) makes the save but gives up a rebound sliding way out of position. The loose puck finds its way to Ryan Getzlaf who puts it in the open net.
Jakob Silfverberg would extend the lead five minutes later. On the forecheck Silfverberg steals the puck behind the net and gets it sent around the boards to the point. Silfverberg then circles around to the front of the net as the puck makes its way to Josh Manson at the top right circle. Manson sends a wrist shot that is headed wide, but Silfverberg gets a great deflection on it, giving it a 45 degree turn which goes 5-hole.
Later in the period, Ben Lovejoy fanned on a pass up ice and turned it over to Ondrej Kase. Kase entered the zone and found Nick Ritchie in the slot who fires it on net. Kinkaid got just a piece of it to send it wide.
The Devils made a late push toward the end of the period and doubled their shot production, going from 3 shots to 6. The Ducks helped them out, however, with Adam Henrique getting called for a hooking penalty on Sami Vatanen. On the ensuing power play, Kyle Palmieri came in with speed and tries a wraparound but couldn’t get enough turn on it sending it across the crease. During the attempt, Taylor Hall is high-sticked by Brandon Montour, making it a 5-on-3 for a minute and a half with just 7 seconds remaining in the period. Good thing we brought Randy Carlyle back to hold the Ducks accountable, otherwise these bad penalties might happen all the time.
The Ducks manage to kill the 5-on-3 with some saves by John Gibson and two great blocked shots by Cam Fowler and Francois Beauchemin.
The Devils came out with a more energy in the second period as traded some chances with the Ducks. At the halfway mark of the period, the Ducks get called for too many men on the ice. This brings them to 5 penalties total in the game so far. Like I said, good thing we have a coach who likes to discipline.
The Devils capitalize on this one. Hall tries to make a cross ice pass but it’s disrupted in front of the net which freezes Gibson. Travis Zajac then gets the puck and completes the cross ice pass to Palmieri for a one-timer into a mostly open net.
The Ducks finally got their own power play opportunity after Vatanen gets called for hooking on Rakell, but couldn’t really generate anything.
Later on, the Ducks top line starts to put pressure on the Devils again. Rakell got the puck along the side boards and sent a pass to Perry in front. With the puck being a little behind, Perry had to stop it with his skate instead of a tap in. He tries to spin and shoot it but Kinkaid had recovered by then to make the save. The puck isn’t covered though and gets sent around, picked up by Getzlaf who feeds it to Rakell into the slot. Rakell tries to shoot left side as he cuts right and sends it wide.
Silverberg also got a good opportunity late. After receiving a pass in the slot, he let off on of his silfy-smooth wrist shots. Fortunately for the Devils, it was partially blocked on the way there and goes just wide.
Ducks got back to controlling the pace during the final period and forced turnovers early. One in particular led to Perry getting a breakaway opportunity. Perry put it right in between the glove and pad, but Kinkaid was able to get just enough pad on it to stop it.
Not long after, the Ducks generate several chances in a row, highlighted by Henrique winning a puck battle along the right end boards and heading to the net. He fakes going behind the net and instead cuts in front and tries to bang it in. Kinkaid stops the first attempt and, as the puck gets lost in the crowded crease, a whistle is blow to stop play.
John Moore delivers an ugly cross-check to Silfverberg, sending him into the boards hard, and sending himself on a two-minute trip to the sin bin. He wouldn’t be there long though because the Ducks converted quickly. A tic tac toe setup makes it 3-1. Rakell passed it to Getzlaf below the net who quickly passes it to Montour in front of the net for the one-timer.
The Devils answered shortly after however. A turnover leads to Vatanen getting the puck. He wires a pass to Patrick Maroon in front of the crease who taps it in. You know, just a few years ago that last sentence would’ve meant the Ducks scored.
The brief goal-fest continues as the Ducks make it a 2 goal lead once again just a few minutes later. Marcus Pettersson feeds the puck along the blueline to Fowler. Fowler steps up and fires it on net. Rakell is in front and is able to get a tip on it to beat Kinkaid above the shoulder. Maroon then immediately went after Getzlaf and the two scrum a bit a get sent to the box for two minutes.
With four minutes left the Ducks do what they’ve done all season with a late lead. Activate Turtle Mode! Except this time is actually worked pretty well since they stood the Devils up in the neutral zone. The Devils just couldn’t get anything going as the Ducks would disrupt the play, and then advance it if possible or just send it deep and get fresh legs out on the ice.
The remaining time ticked off and the final score read 4-2 with Anaheim as the victor. They’ll be back in action on Wednesday when they travel to take on the Calgary Flames. Puck drops at 6:30pm PST.