The Anaheim Ducks found out late before their game against the Winnipeg Jets was set to begin that they would be without their captain, Ryan Getzlaf, for the contest. They also found out that Patrik Laine, expected to miss tonight’s game due to injury, would be in the lineup.
Without Getzlaf, the team looked like they were never able to find their legs underneath them until there were about twelve minutes remaining in regulation. John Gibson played another outstanding game, and was one of the main reasons that the Ducks were able to scrape a point out of this game to show in the standings, a crucial point for their ongoing playoff race for the 3rd spot in the Pacific Division with the Los Angeles Kings.
The game was extremely exciting and fast-paced, but the Winnipeg Jets just looked to be a step above the Ducks for the entire 63 minutes that the teams played.
The game began with the Jets controlling a majority of the possession in Anaheim’s end of the ice for the first few minutes. Just three and a half minutes into the game, the Ducks would be the first to catch a break as a loose puck was found by Mark Scheifele, but he was only able to fire his shot off the crossbar.
The Ducks would catch another break immediately after, as Joel Armia put an end to the Winnipeg pressure by taking a high-sticking penalty. The Ducks needed to generate some pressure of their own on the following power play, as the Jets were already leading 4-0 in shots on goal.
The Winnipeg Jets would come VERY close to scoring a shorthanded goal, but thanks to a fantastic defensive play by Hampus Lindholm, he was able to save a goal and keep the Jets off the board. The Ducks would respond with a fantastic deflection in front of Connor Hellebuyck from Derek Grant, giving the Ducks a 1-0 lead with only 14 seconds remaining on the power play! 1-0 Anaheim!
And while many would argue that the Jets arguably deserved the first goal with the start they had, they were rewarded for their pressure shortly after the Anaheim goal, responding with a goal of their own from Nikolaj Ehlers just 56 seconds after the Grant goal opened the scoring. 1-1.
The Jets continued to pile on the pressure after their tying goal, and the Ducks appeared to be in trouble, consistently playing from their heels and just doing their best to survive. Not really something you like to see ten minutes into a hockey game that isn’t a back-to-back situation.
The next five minutes were brought to you by John Gibson. And more John Gibson. With a healthy dash of superhuman powers by John Gibson. And then a couple more John Gibsons.
The first period would, to the relief of the Anaheim Ducks, come to a close with the game tied 1-1, despite the fact that the Jets were absolutely dominating the possession metrics of the game and leading shots on goal by a count of 17-4.
The 2nd period started, so here’s to hoping it’s a bette...oh, the Jets are winning. Already. Blake Wheeler with the pass of a lifetime to hit a wide-open Mark Scheifele, who rifled the puck past Gibson before he could move laterally to it. 2-1 Winnipeg.
Marcus Pettersson knew just what to do to give the Ducks some life as they continued to get pushed around. Take a penalty! So, just seconds after the Jets took their first lead of the game, they were going on the power play. And their power play is dangerous. Like, really dangerous.
Luckily for Anaheim, they were able to survive the minor penalty and return to even strength, down only 1 goal, but down 20-4 in shots on goal at this point. With 14:51 remaining in the middle frame, the Ducks would get their 2nd power play opportunity as Dustin Byfuglien would be called for hooking.
The Ducks would not get as lucky with this power play opportunity, as the Jets would be able to successfully kill off the minor without any damage done. At this point in the game, the Winnipeg Jets were making the Ducks look like an AHL team at times, and quite frankly, I was surprised that the score was still only 2-1 in favor of Winnipeg.
The Ducks once again, cling to life by their fingertips while the clock winds, as once again, they are able to survive the end of a period, leaving the 2nd period behind only down 2-1. The shots on goal now favored the Jets by a 33-10 count.
The 3rd period started with Ducks fans around the world hoping that the Ducks will at least look like a competent hockey team for 20 minutes. However, just 1:28 into the final period, Hampus Lindholm would take a holding penalty and send the very dangerous Winnipeg offense back on the power play.
The Ducks were once again able to survive the penalty kill without conceding, keeping themselves alive in the contest with just about 16 minutes remaining in regulation with the Ducks trailing by at least one.
The Ducks started to seem to find their legs a little bit after the penalty kill and apply their first consistent pressure of the game in the Winnipeg zone. The physicality started to heat up as the Ducks were undoubtedly frustrated and the Jets were frustrated that they were only up by one goal in a game where they were absolutely dominating every area of the ice.
BUT THEN, WITH A BREAKAWAY! THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND!
NICK RITCHIE! WITH THE FIVE-HOLE SAUCE. SOMEHOW, SOMEWAY, NO LOGIC INVOLVED, THIS GAME WAS TIED AT 2.
The Ducks did their absolute best to survive for the remaining minutes in regulation, but boy did they feel like an eternity. The team looked gassed, Winnipeg was skating circles around them, but they were only bending and not breaking. An absolutely massive point hanging in the balance for the Ducks, and there were only three minutes remaining in regulation.
The Ducks survived an extremely lengthy shift but unfortunately, an icing call. Tired Ducks. New legs for the Jets. 1:20 remaining in regulation.
More chaos. Cities are burning. Sweat has rendered my keyboard useless. But they made it. The Ducks survived regulation and we were off to overtime.
The overtime period started with Anaheim winning possession on the opening faceoff and forcing Hellebuyck to make an early save in the overtime period. The Jets would be the first to get a true odd-man rush in the overtime period, and a perfect pass to Kyle Connor gave him an easy opportunity to beat John Gibson and give the Jets the 3-2 victory in OT.
The Ducks will be back in action on Sunday night as they continue their Canadian road trip against the Edmonton Oilers.