The night was full of achievements! The most notable being the Ducks officially clinched the playoffs after they defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-1. After the St. Louis Blues lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, the line was drawn for the Ducks. Beat the Wild, and punch your ticket to the playoffs. They did just that as they responded after giving up the first goal and put up three unanswered.
The Ducks and Wild began the period trading chances with both goalies having to get loose and make big saves early. Marcus Pettersson was relied on more heavily with Cam Fowler being out, and he did a good job of getting in on plays and taking shots from the point.
Honda Center was also very alive tonight and offered some wild bounces. Josh Manson had a puck hop his stick in front of Ryan Miller giving the Wild a scoring chance. On the other end, a simple dump ended up bouncing weirdly and forced Devan Dubnyk to make an uncomfortable save.
The Ducks got the first power play after Rickard Rakell got hooked entering the zone. The Ducks generated some good puck movement and shots. One shot went over Dubnyk’s shoulder and fluttered in the air. Andy Welinski did his best Crosby impression and batted the puck out of the air, but it hit the outside of the post.
The Ducks drew another penalty after putting pressure on early. During the power play however, Ondrej Kase took a tripping penalty creating a 4 on 4.
During the 4 on 4 time, the Ducks set up a pretty tic tac toe play, giving Manson a wide open shot at the top of the slot, but he shot it just wide.
Ryan Getzlaf was called for a penalty at about the half way point. The Wild loaded up in the zone trapping the Ducks. Matt Dumba got the puck in the right circle and just ripped a one-timer top shelf above Ryan Miller’s glove.
The Ducks did tie it up not too long after though. Nick Ritchie got the puck below the net, wrapped around, and fed a pass to Adam Henrique in front. The puck was deflected on its way and bounced up and off a Minnesota defender. Henrique took a couple hacks at the loose puck and it ended up squeezing behind Dubnyk. It was originally looked at for potential goalie interference, but after review it was a good goal (by Ritchie).
The Ducks came out leading the scoring chances in the third. They generated a long cycle game with the top line but couldn’t generate any clean shots.
It was some back and forth from there, with the Ducks having the majority of the pressure. That is, until Ondrej Kase broke the tie at the 16 minute mark of the period. Josh Manson got a shot on net from the top of the right circle. Dubnyk couldn’t make a clean save, and Kase was there to bang in the rebound. Not only did this end up being the game-winning goal for the Ducks, Kase also scored his 20th goal of the season, the first time in his career.
The Wild pulled out the extra attacker with two minutes remaining. Francois Beachemin took a 200-foot shot at the empty net and missed by inches. Andrew Cogliano was the first one to the loose puck, however, and finished it off.
Honda Center rose to its feet as the final seconds ticked off, and the Ducks clinched their playoff spot.
The Ducks will be back in action on Friday, to better their playoff position, when they take on the Dallas Stars at 7pm PST.