What looked to be a great (and desperately needed) answer from the Ducks in the midst of their worst losing streak ever, ended up being just as disappointing as the rest. The Ducks jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first, only to once again fall victim to their own terrible system of standing still and hoping Gibson would carry them through the remainder of the game. After being completely outworked in the final 40 minutes, the Duck ended up losing 7-4 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. This loss is their franchise record 10th in a row, which begs a question, why is Carlyle still here?
The Ducks wasted no time opening up the scoring in this one. Just 1:27 in, Ondrej Kase battled for a puck along the end boards. He was able to win possession and circled in front, firing the puck on net from a bad angle. It went across the crease but went off Nick Ritchie’s stick and banked in to give the Ducks the lead.
Anaheim looked really good for the opening minutes, specifically with getting in the passing lanes and keeping the Penguins from getting zone control. The Pens did finally catch the Ducks in a bad position to generate a two-on-one rush. Brandon Montour did a great job of disrupting a pass across to Sidney Crosby, but the Pens keep it alive. Crosby found Bryan Rust in the slot for a golden chance but John Gibson made a spectacular pad save!
Ryan Getzlaf would extend the lead with his 10th of the season at the 8 minute mark. Andrew Cogliano got the puck below the net and sent it in front for Getzlaf who wasted no time firing it on net, beating Matt Murray.
Just about 5 minutes later, Daniel Sprong made it 3-0. Rickard Rakell coming down the right side sent a pass back to a crowd of players. Sprong was able to receive the pass and quickly fired it on net. Murray had his vision blocked by traffic and didn’t see Sprong’s shot come through and beat him.
The Crosby line then struck back, firing on all cylinders as they trapped the Ducks 4th line in their own zone for more than two minutes. Gibson stopped every chance, but Josh Manson took a penalty in the process to end the period.
Pittsburgh came out with time still remaining on the power play. They immediately got into the offensive zone and started moving the puck around. As the penalty expired, Phil Kessel took the puck from behind the net and found Evgeni Malkin in front who ripped it past Gibson to get the Penguins on the board.
Jake Guentzel brought the score back to within one. With possession in the right circle, Guentzel faked a pass to the middle and quickly put it five-hole. Gibson bit on the pass and pushed off, leaving himself vulnerable for Guentzel to score.
Shortly after scoring, Guentzel got called for a penalty giving the Ducks a chance to get some momentum back. The Ducks are able to get a couple quality chances, including Silfverberg ringing one off the post. The Pens are able to get possession as their penalty expired and sprung Guentzel on a breakaway. Manson was forced to take a tripping penalty to stop the chance, giving the Penguins yet another power play.
Guentzel being the hot topic of this period, scored once again to bring the game to a tie. Malkin fired a shot from the slot which was blocked by Gibson, but the puck got loose. Kessel swatted the puck into the middle where Guentzel was in alone to finish the play.
To make matters worse, Cogliano got called for tripping, sending the Ducks back to the penalty kill. Just as things were looking catastrophic, Henrique stripped the puck from Malkin and flipped it to Silfverberg for a short-handed breakaway, where he beat Murray top corner with a wicked release to reclaim the lead.
After a flurry of chances for the Penguins with the Ducks unable to clear, Pearson was able to tie the game once again near the halfway mark of the third. Malkin got the puck below the net and dished it to Tanner Pearson in front who beat Gibson short-side.
Just one minute later, Kessel was able to get in on a dumped puck and force a turnover against Larsson along the side boards. He circled toward the net and fired it. Gibson made the save but Kessel was first to the rebound and beat Gibson.
The Ducks responded with a chance of their own. They got in deep and battled for the puck in front of the Pittsburgh net. Cogliano was dumped, causing a penalty to be called against the Penguins, but not before Silfverberg, who had a fluttering puck come to him with a wide open net in front. He couldn’t get much on it and Murray was able to get in front of the puck.
The Ducks couldn’t convert on their power play despite getting several chances. Not long after, Pearson was able to get his second goal in seven minutes, and Guentzel followed by hitting an empty netter for the hat-trick.
That’s all she wrote as the Ducks lost 7-4.
Best and Worst
Best - John Gibson, the only good thing we have. If we wake up tomorrow and find out Gibson left with Pittsburgh I couldn’t even be mad at him. This Ducks got scored on seven times in this game, but it could’ve easily been double that if not for Gibson saving the Ducks time and time again. With the six goals scored against him, Gibson’s GSAA (goals scored above average) was just barely in the negative (-0.18), which is insane! Gibson is undeniably the best goalie in the league and it’s not even close.
Worst - Randy F**king Carlyle. Plain and simple, he needs to be fired before the next game. There is no legitimate reason to keep him behind the bench. Their offense lacks consistency, primarily because they have no solid breakout. They rely on randomly generated odd-man rushes to score, while the other 90% of plays end with a dump-in or the opposing team disrupting the play in the neutral zone. They also have no plan for zone control, which is why they can’t get multiple chances at a time, and why their power play ranks 28th in the league. The defensive system he has implemented involves the Ducks constantly being caught standing still and unable to clear the puck. And when they gather a lead, like the 3-0 start in this game, they come out in the following period trying to be a defensive shell and the system becomes even uglier. He can’t even open his eyes to his poor line matchups. Kesler is clearly not the player he once was, and Carlyle still has his line going up against opposing top lines. The result is Kesler’s line averaging only 30% of the even strength chances while on the ice. It’s obvious, Carlyle has a clear disregard for making necessary changes to win games.
The Ducks probably aren’t a cup contender with him gone, but they are undoubtedly much worse with him here. So fire him.
Three Stars of the Game
1. John Gibson - Despite the score, Gibson was stellar in this game. His defense just left him out to dry from the second period on, and I honestly don’t know why Gibson put up with it.
2. Jake Guentzel - Hat-trick, basically the owner of that second period. Kid was all over.
3. Ryan Getzlaf - Good to see him end his point drought with two points.