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Ducks @ Penguins RECAP

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Anaheim loses their chance at going undefeated by taking their first L in Pittsburgh.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Do you believe in moral victories? The Ducks were handed their first loss of the season in Pittsburgh (AKA the birthplace of our savior John Gibson) thanks to a wasted first period. The Ducks would however go on to improve their play in the second, and would own the third, showing that this team won’t ever be an easy-out.

First

Neither team looked comfortable to start the game, but thanks to some flat feet, lazy hands and too many penalties, the Penguins got plenty of opportunities to handle the puck.

Max Jones and Hampus Lindholm were each called for slashing in the opening period. The good news is that the Ducks special teams are looking nice, stopping the first ten power plays they faced this season. The bad news is that it’s generally not good advice to give your opponent time and space to handle pucks.

Thank goodness for the Ducks, John Gibson was doing his absolute best to dazzle the home crowd, making incredible saves look effortless. The best Penguins chances came at the end of the period, as Gibson took two shots from the slot right into the gut — one on a cross ice feed from Jake Guentzel to Kris Letang, and the other on a Crosby feed from behind the net to Justin Schultz.

Second

The Ducks opened the second period defending a power play, and Gibson was forced to make more ‘Grade A’ saves, the best of which comes on a shot from Crosby, who is somehow sitting alone on the goal line.

The Penguins would finally capitalize on the Ducks’ mistakes, scoring a power play goal three minutes into the second period on Sidney Crosby tip from Letang (I’ll do you the favor of not including the clip).

Per usual, when the Ducks need some energy, energizer bunny Ondrej Kase will deliver. The Penguins lead lasted for less than a minute, as Kase netted a one-timer from near the goal line for his first of the season.

Kase’s goal was a turning point for the Ducks, who played with good speed and possession for the remainder of the game. Adam Henrique and Kase regularly disrupted the Penguins in the neutral zone, creating turnovers and generating chances whenever their line was on the ice.

THIRD

The third period was more of the same, as both teams continued skating hard and trading chances. Both goalies played well, but Gibson gave top notch effort to keep the Ducks in this one late.

With about eight minutes left in the third, Ducks coach Dallas Eakins began sending out the Getzlaf and Rackell lines on back to back shifts, for five consecutive changes. The lines were buzzing, and the Penguins couldn’t keep up with the Ducks sharp puck movement. The Ducks would possess the puck for much of that time, generating plenty of good chances.

While both teams traded opportunities, it was surely the Penguins who got the better of them, and unfortunately for the Ducks, the other team had Sidney Crosby.

The Best

Brendan Guhle is looking really comfortable next to Cam Fowler. He’s unafraid to join the attack on offense, and is already proving to be a stout defender in his own zone.

John Gibson did John Gibson things with his leg pads today. So that was cool.

#Elite1C Derrick Grant’s solid play is continuing early this season, as he hounded pucks, won faceoffs, killed penalties, and was a solid forechecker in the offensive zone.

The Worst

Me, for giving Sidney Crosby my first star.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Sidney Crosby - We prefer to keep things Anaheim-centered here, but it’s impossible to deny his outsized impact. He played 24 minutes in this game, was relied on heavily to generate offensive chances, and beat Manson around an edge to set up the game-winning goal.

2. John Gibson literally stood on his head at one point, break dancing deflections and cha-cha sliding pucks out of the crease.

3. Rickard Rakell took the many of the Ducks best shots on the night, and his line was consistently putting on the most pressure of any Ducks combo.