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Ducks @ Bruins RECAP: Strong Losses

The Ducks might have lost, but this was arguably their best game so far.

NHL: OCT 14 Ducks at Bruins Photo by John Crouch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On a rare Monday morning during a New England holiday game, the Anaheim Ducks dropped a clash with the Boston Bruins by a score of 4-2. The tallies did not accurately illustrate the play on the ice as a whole, however. Well, it did if your name was David Pastrnak.

The former 2014 25th overall draft pick made the most of his opportunities, tallying all four of his team’s goals, with two of those goals coming on the power play. While his line, consisting of him, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand are arguably the best in the NHL, their scoring was primarily due to special teams execution and a rare weak performance from John Gibson.

In fact, this game was probably the strongest performance of the season for Anaheim.

A sluggish start owed likely to the fact that the visitors penalty box had no Dunkin’ Donuts barista turned into Pastrnak’s first tally, a one-timer just eight seconds into a Boston power play. Even though the Bruins had the better of the play through the first 20 minutes, it was apparent that the Ducks were keeping up with the swift attack of their opponents. Whereas this kind of play would have beaten last year’s team into submission, there was no such struggle yesterday.

Hanging in turned into domination in the second period as the Ducks took complete control of the game, generating scoring chance after scoring chance. But Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak came to play, to Anaheim’s dismay. Chance after chance was snuffed out by stellar saves in an apparent Space Jam Monstars move where Halak absorbed some of John Gibson’s otherworldly goaltending powers.

Because hockey is a game of character-building pain, the Bruins completely broke the run of play with a goal to make it 2-0 despite the Ducks’ domination. Hampus Lindholm retreated into his own zone to retrieve a puck. Making the decision to pass the puck blindly in a clearing attempt, Lindholm inadvertently fed it directly to Brad Marchand, who in turn fed it to Pastrnak for his second goal. The usually rock-solid defensive stalwart had some uncharacteristically bad moments directly leading to two of Pastrnak’s four goals, despite good shot metrics overall.

Fortunately, Anaheim broke through after mostly stellar play at the 17:52 mark of the middle frame, when Rickard Rakell used Charlie McAvoy as a screen and fired a pinpoint perfect snipe over the pad and under the glove of Halak to cut the lead in half. While the game could have been tied or more with the Ducks fantastic play that period, it was certainly a relief to see the Ducks best goal-scorer playing to his strengths.

With Anaheim pressing to tie the game in the final period, four consecutive icings led to a worn out unit remaining on the ice for the Bruins top line. A puck off of Josh Manson’s skate from the faceoff popped right to Pastrnak’s stick, who immediately put it on net with Gibson not set in position. Hat trick. Sadness.

Just two minutes later, Lindholm would make his second uncharacteristic mistake of the game, allowing Pastrnak easy inside position on an open net with Gibson out of his crease attempting to address the threat of Marchand on the other faceoff circle. An easy tap-in gave the Czech winger a four goal game and all but sealed the fate of a Ducks team that had controlled most of the game outside of the first period.

The Ducks didn’t give up, however, with a response that kept them getting shot attempts and scoring chances, culminating in Nick Ritchie stealing a puck from Halak and sending it to Adam Henrique for an empty netter to trim the deficit to two. Unfortunately for Anaheim, they ran out of racetrack and succumbed to the defending Eastern Conference champions.

Best and Worst

Best: 5v5 play - As the numbers show below, the Ducks controlled the vast majority of play at 5v5, at times dominating the Bruins with a quick attack and some of the best puck possession the team has seen so far this season. Unfortunately, Jaroslav Halak had an answer for most of their chances. The good news is that if Anaheim continues this kind of play against other teams, the wins will follow in a hurry.

Worst: Special team sadness - We’re now six games into the season and the Ducks have yet to score with the man advantage. They’re moving the puck better and getting good chances thanks to a new system from Dallas Eakins, but the goals haven’t come yet. Anaheim is currently 26th in the league in scoring chances for on the power play, so although they’re moving the puck well, they’re still having issues getting it into dangerous scoring areas. They will need to find ways to get it into the net on the power play in order to have success this season.

Best: Henrique, Silfverberg, and Rakell success - Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg, and Rickard Rakell showed intense chemistry yesterday with the best results on the ice. While the Sam Steel, Troy Terry, Nick Ritchie line had slightly better shot metrics, the Henrique line got the most TOI and factored in on the scoresheet to push them to the top of the line rankings for this game.

By The Numbers

3 Stars

3. Adam Henrique

2. Jaroslav Halak

1. David Pastrnak