The Anaheim Ducks traveled to Minnesota to take on the Wild Thursday night, looking to end a franchise-record 12-game losing streak. Leading up to this game, Anaheim had made four different trades in three days as well as called up rookies Troy Terry and Max Jones to help provide a spark of energy for a desperate Ducks team.
The Ducks came out flying to start the game, flashing that spark of energy GM Bob Murray was hoping for. Anaheim controlled the play early on by winning puck battles and maintaining possession in the offensive zone. The aggressive play resulted in Anaheim scoring two goals 11 seconds apart. The first goal was scored at 3:57 on a perfect shot from Adam Henrique. Henrique would receive a nice pass from Nick Ritchie and then use a Wild defenseman as a screen to beat Wild goalie Alex Stalock top-shelf. 11 seconds later, Rickard Rakell would make it 2-0. Newly acquired Devin Shore would drive the puck to the net only to have Stalock poke check the puck off his stick, however the puck would bounce right to an open Rakell who had a wide open net.
The Ducks would take a 3-0 lead at 7:58 when Brian Gibbons redirected Andy Welinksi’s shot that beat Stalock through the five-hole. The Wild would remove Stalock and replace him with goalie Devan Dubnyk. Both teams would get a couple chances each on the powerplay but neither would convert.
The second period would be all John Gibson. The Ducks weren’t as aggressive in the period offensively, however they limited turnovers and did a good job controlling the puck. The Wild would find several key opportunities though with the first coming at the 3:25 mark when J.T. Brown was a hair away from getting Minnesota on the board. The play would be reviewed but the call on the ice would stand. The call could have easily gone either way, but on a night where the Ducks needed some luck, they surely received it.
The Ducks would continue to hold on settling for dumping the puck into the offensive zone. Anaheim would find an opportunity for a 4-on-2 breakaway only to turnover the puck allowing Zack Parise to go the other way on a breakaway of his own. However he would miss the shot keeping the Wild scoreless.
Parise misses on the breakaway! pic.twitter.com/WVUxo0cfCg— Forever Mighty (@ForeverMightyFM) January 18, 2019
The period would come to a crazy finish with Minnesota desperately trying to get on the scoreboard and Gibson doing everything he could to keep the shutout alive.
The period would start the same as the second with Minnesota pressuring Gibson. Minnesota’s greatest chance came when Jason Zucker would get behind the defense forcing Gibson to make a highlight sprawling save and his best save of the night.
Minnesota would end up losing their momentum by taking two consecutive penalties shortly after the scoring chance thus allowing the Ducks to go into prevent mode and securing the shutout for their first win since December 17th.
Best & Worst
Winning - It’s very simple, the Ducks won. It wasn’t the prettiest or cleanest win, but for a team having lost 12 games in a row, it was very much needed. Some will say it’s Murray’s new additions and shakeups to the roster that created a spark for the victory, while others will say the Ducks got some lucky bounces and were fortunate to play against poor goaltending. In the end, all that matters is the losing streak is over.
John Gibson - During the losing streak, Gibson was human. He wasn’t always at his best and honestly it was expected after such a strong start to a season in which he single handedly won games for the Ducks. However, his offense was able to provide an early cushion and he was determined to not let another 3-0 lead slip away. Gibson stopped all 37 shots he faced and got a little help from the pipe. He was able to record his second shutout of the season and reminded the league of how skilled of a goalie he is and why he deserves to be in the Vezina Trophy conversation.
Turtling - In typical Randy Carlyle fashion, the Ducks became content after their solid first period and played it safe. Defensively Anaheim played a decent game by not allowing too much traffic in front of Gibson, however Gibson helped his team by not allowing any fat rebounds or key second chances. Far too often this season, the Ducks have let an early lead evaporate by playing too safe and not remaining aggressive. In the second period Minnesota out shot Anaheim 12-2 and 15-8 in the third period. If not for Gibson’s stellar play, Minnesota could have gotten on the scoresheet several times. Parise had 11 shots himself but could not figure out Gibson. Far too often the Ducks were content with dumping the puck into the zone. If Anaheim truly wants to turn their season around, they need to play all three periods the way they opened up this game. Until then, don’t expect any extended winning streaks.
3 Stars of the Game
3. Rickard Rakell
2. Adam Henrique
1. John Gibson
The Ducks will travel to New Jersey to face the Devils Saturday, January 19th at 10am PST.