The Anaheim Ducks traveled to New Jersey to face off against the Devils in an early matchup Saturday. The Ducks, recently coming off a 3-0 shutout win against the Minnesota Wild Thursday and snapping a franchise worst 12-game losing streak, were hoping to carry that momentum with their new-look roster. Anaheim would receive contributions from their youngsters and John Gibson would shine again as the Ducks defeated the Devils 3-2.
New Jersey would get the scoring started when Marcus Johansson beat Gibson with a backhand shot from the slot at the 6:50 mark. Luckily for the Ducks, the lead wouldn’t last long as Daniel Sprong would deposit a rebound from a Nick Ritchie deflection to tie the game 1-1. The Devils would challenge the play as they felt Anaheim was offsides. The call was upheld and the Devils were assessed a delay of game penalty. Anaheim found the back of the net on the man advantage as Troy Terry tallied his first NHL goal at 10:38. Terry received a nice feed from Hampus Lindholm and fired a beautiful wrist shot from the right circle to beat Makenzie Blackwood to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead and their second goal in a span of 1:28.
The period came to and end with the Ducks leading 2-1 and trailing in shots 8-7.
As has been the case most of the season, the Ducks decided not to show up for the middle frame. Well, only one Duck actually showed up. And his name is Gibson. The Ducks implemented the “Carlyle Turtle” and came out completely flat. They would do their best to let New Jersey capture the lead but Gibson had other plans. In the period, Gibson would deny the Devils on both their power plays as well as stop all 14 shots he faced. In fact, the Devils 14 shots in the second period equaled Anaheim’s shot total for the entire game. The Ducks survived the onslaught and took a 2-1 lead into the third. Anaheim only mustered three shots in the period.
Since the Ducks offense was well rested from taking a break in the second, they were able to find the back of the net again when Derek Grant fired a snap shot from the far left circle on a great feed from Terry that made its way under the corssbar to give Anaheim a 3-1 lead at 5:11.
Anaheim fans rejoiced as Grant was recently re-acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday after being a surprise offensive contributor for Anaheim last season. In fact, the Grant line has already been dubbed “The 2 kids and Grant” line [Editor’s note: This is the dumbest nickname for a line ever and I completely support it - CJ]. The combination of Max Jones, Terry and Grant looks to be working well and has been a nice energy line for Anaheim. The Devils would get a garbage goal late in the period with 56 seconds remaining when Jesper Bratt beat Gibson glove-side from the right circle. That would be all from the Devils as the period would come to an end with the Ducks winning 3-2.
Best & Worst
Troy Terry - After being held scoreless in six NHL games, Anaheim decided to send Terry back to the AHL to help boost his confidence and help find himself. While playing for the San Diego Gulls, Terry indeed found his game with 16 goals in 32 games and co-lead the team with 37 points. Terry lead the AHL among rookies in assists, points, points per game, and was third in goals scored.
He did more than enough to regain his roster spot with the Ducks, and in his second game since being called up, he looked good. Terry was finally rewarded for his hard work by tallying his first NHL goal. He would also get an assist later in the game giving him two points. His puck handling abilities and quick hands will ensure there are more goals to come. He may need to put on a little more size to help him win some puck battles, but the kid is skilled. Even though he will never forget his first goal, he at first didn’t even realize he had scored.
Luckily for Terry this will be the first of many to celebrate.
John Gibson - Another game, same story. Gibson is Anaheim’s savior. If this team makes it to the playoffs at the end of the season, it’ll be because of the netminder. In fact, Carlyle should be counting his lucky stars that he has Gibson in net. If not for his stellar play this season, Carlyle could very well be out of the job, which wouldn’t necessarily be a terrible thing for the team and fans alike.
To put into perspective how much Gibson has done for the team, digest the following: after Saturday, Gibson leads the NHL in saves with 1,225 in 42 games played. Marc-Andre Fluery is second with 1,091 saves and has played in 43 games. Gibson has faced 1,330 shots which leads the NHL as well while Fluery is not even a close second with only 1,197 shots faced. It’s amazing that Gibson has been so good this year with such a heavy workload. However, if the shots continue at this pace, don’t be surprised if he becomes human again as he was during the 12-game losing streak. A word to the defense: give Gibson some help!
TURTLE ALERT! - All Ducks fans knew the “Carlyle Turtle” would make its ugly appearance at some point in the game, especially after the Ducks finished the first period with a 2-1 lead. The turtle wasted no time showing up as it dominated the second period.
For the Ducks to be outshot 14-3 in the middle frame should speak volumes to the job Carlyle is doing. It is the coaches job to get his team energized and fired up to start a period, especially when playing on the road.
In Carlyle’s previous stint with Anaheim, he was let go because his methods were no longer motivating his team and his words were falling on deaf ears. He is rumored to be a screamer and a yeller which may have an impact on the younger players. However, if Murray truly wants to create a shakeup, he needs to look no further than the head coach.
Yes the Ducks have won two games in a row after all the roster movements, but they have not been pretty wins and if not for one of the best goalies in the league, if not the best, this team could be sitting at the bottom of the standings alongside their neighbors from Los Angeles.
3 Stars of the Game
3. Derek Grant
2. Troy Terry
1. John Gibson