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Ducks vs Sabres RECAP: Speared

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The Swedes are scoring, and Anaheim is officially fun again.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Ducks have gotten off to rough starts in most of their games so far this season, and this one was no different. Chalk it up to youth, bad penalties, or whatever you like — the result is the same: they end up in early deficits. The Ducks gave up 19 shots and two goals in the first period alone, but luckily the bleeding would stop there.

FIRST PERIOD

Like I said, the Ducks really made John Gibson work early, but thankfully he was up to the task, making tough saves throughout the period.

Josh Manson hasn’t had the ideal start to the season thus far, and the miscues would continue. The first goal came on a mishandled puck by Manson, who let Eichel charge up ice to net the first of the game.

After giving up a second goal, things would finally start clicking for the Ducks.

Dallas Eakins played the kids on the third line together, and they provided the spark the team needed. As the first was coming to a close Troy Terry made a phenomenal pass to send Jacob Larson streaking into the offensive zone with Max Jones on the opposite wing. Larsson put one on net, and Jones was there to clean up the fat rebound.

Unfortunately for Jones, Terry’s pass to Larsson caught him off guard, and the goal would be overturned because he was too far over the blue line for offside.

As luck would have it, the Ducks got their goal soon after. Within minutes of the call being overturned Adam Henrique would open things up with a lucky tip off a Manson shot.

SECOND

The second period was the best period the Ducks have put together thus far, beginning with a beautiful play from Anaheim’s newest duo.

From here on out, they never looked back. They skated faster, connected on their passes, and most importantly, disrupted every Sabres opportunity, giving Gibson the break he deserved.

Ryan Getzlaf had a particularly strong game, even if the points didn’t show it. He created multiple dangerous chances, including a pass from behind the net that gave Korbinian Holzer an excellent try from right in front of the net.

Halfway through the period the Ducks would find the back of the net again, perhaps learning a thing or two from the tough power play units they’ve had to face thus far this season.

Henrique added one more, giving the Ducks a two goal cushion, and things got chippy to finish the second after Carter Rowney’s hit on Victor Olofsson (it was kind of a cheap shot, I’ll let you look it up and see for yourself).

THIRD

Thanks to Nick Ritchie, the Ducks started the third period defending the power play, again. Luckily, the Ducks penalty kill was on top of their game tonight taking on one of the best power play’s in the league.

Max Comtois factored onto the scoresheet late as well when he showed great playmaking skills to feed Henrique driving the center lane and getting inside position on his defender. A quick one-timer squeezed through an out-of-position Ullmark and gave number 14 his second of the night.

The Ducks would seal the victory after Silfverberg’s clearing attempt took the luckiest bounce in the history of hockey and sailed into the empty net for a 5-2 victory and free chicken for all fans in attendance.

All in all, the Ducks would give up 7 power plays to a unit that had been 9 for 21 coming into the game. It wasn’t a smart strategy, but thanks to superb penalty killing, and great goal tending, the Ducks managed to only give up one power play goal.

THE BEST

-John Gibson made difficult stops in the first period to keep the Ducks in the game, and his quiet confidence has allowed the Ducks all season to overcome their early game woes. His presence in net is surely a security blanket for this team, and he’s surely looking like one of the best goalies in the league again so far this season.

-#Elite1C Derek Grant has been the best penalty killer all season long, winning more than 70% of his faceoffs and chasing pucks deep into offensive zones putting pressure on puck handlers. He’s a big reason why our penalty kill has been so lethal this season.

-Cam Fowler looks good. Really good. He’s flying up ice, joining offensive rushes, and hit posts twice in this game.

THE WORST

Somehow Nick Ritchie continues to find ways to give dumb penalties to opposing teams, even with his minutes restricted by playing on the fourth line so far this season. I’m sure Dallas Eakins scribbled all over his pregame whiteboard NO DUMB PENALTIES, but Ritchie apparently walked right past it.

During a TV timeout, yes - as in not during game action, Ritchie approached a Buffalo defender and slammed his face into the ground, taking a minor penalty. Now maybe it was deserved, we don’t know what was said — but taking dumb penalties is Richie’s weakness, and I can’t say I excuse him for it.

3 Stars of the Game

3. Rickard Rakell

2. Adam Henrique

1. Jakob Silfverberg

You could swap the order as much as you want, I don’t really care. Rakell’s soft hands allowed him to deftly maneuver the puck through defenders, Silfverberg made some nice passes off the boards, and Henrique found the back of the net twice tonight. This group has been HOT, and was responsible for 7 points against the Sabres (four goals, three assists). The chemistry is for real. I think Henrique should try picking up some Swedish.