The Anaheim Ducks squared off against the Florida Panthers in what turned into a Jekyll and Hyde-esq performance. This would be the third game of what has been a very eventful four game road trip. The Ducks had the Derek Grant hat trick win against the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues. Then would have the Loogie Loss against the Washington Capitals. Not sure what fun nickname we can coin for this one (I guess I already said Jekyll and Hyde-esq but whatever), but this ended up being an adventure as well. Let’s get into it.
The first period was a strong one for the Ducks. They controlled play and really look in sync across the board. Feet were moving and passes were connecting. From a high event standpoint, the Ducks had the better end of the chances with five high danger chances for while only allowing two against.
All the good work would eventually pay off with 2:45 left to go in the period. Max Jones was able to finish off a rebound as he was left all alone in front. The puck was collected by Adam Henrique behind the Florida net who then banked a pass to Jacob Larsson at the point. Larsson ripped it on net only to have Jakob Silfverberg tip it along the way. Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky would make the initial save, but kicked the rebound right to Jones who collected the puck, dusted it off and the fired it home.
1-0 Ducks heading into the first break.
The Ducks continued their great play in the second period. They came out looking crisp again and were dominating from a puck control and shot perspective.
Nick Ritchie would get on the board at the 12:43 mark. Sam Steel won a face off back to Erik Gudbranson who swept over a nice little pass to Ondrej Kase. Kase one-timed a pass over to Ritchie who ripped it in from the top of the face off circle. A really nice play all around. 2-0 Ducks.
Rickard Rakell would join the party for his seventh goal on the season. This was just a garden variety, power play snipe by the veteran Swede. The Ducks controlled the face off, moved the puck around a bit, got it back to Ricky who roofed the it in over Bob’s right shoulder. Silf was doing his best Wayne Simmonds impersonation in providing a great screen in front of Bobrovsky. 3-0 Ducks.
Now for my last bit of good news...the Ducks fourth goal came off an athletic play from Ondrej Kase. Panthers’ defenseman Keith Yandle went to clear the puck right up the middle of his own zone. Kase was in the right place and did a little jump to knock the puck down with his glove. He collected the puck, fired on net only to have Bob knock it down, but stuck with it and put home the rebound. 4-0 Ducks.
Here was where things got weird. With 1:07 left in the second, Frank Vatrano would steal an outlet pass just outside the Ducks zone. He carried it up the left side, slipped a pass over to Brett Connolly who was driving right down main street (the slot). Connolly fired it past John Gibson. 4-1 Ducks.
About twenty second laters,
Fowler Connolly would deliver his second goal of the game. The Panthers were able to keep the puck in the Ducks zone and move it around a bit before a deflected pass bounced over to Connolly. He somewhat flubbed the shot and it looked to be fluttering wide of the net. Ducks defenseman Cam Folwer attempted to jump out of the way of the puck, but ended up deflecting it on net and past John Gibson. Dumb.
4-2 Ducks after two periods.
The third period was not a good one. Except for a couple of shifts, it is safe to say the Ducks were on their heels for most of this one. It seemed like they were playing not to lose vs playing to win. At 8:06, Panthers defenseman Aaron Eklbad would slap one in. 4-3 Ducks. Then with 4:23 left, Dominic Toninato was able to bury a rebound (or deflection?) as the puck was laying in the crease after a scramble save by Gibby. 4-4. All tied up. Whoah is me. Horn sounds. Off to overtime we go.
OT was quick and painless while also being very painful. Aaron Ekblad delivered his second goal of the game (and game winner; not a big deal) after he caught Sam Steel gambling on a poke check. He beat Steel, then carried the puck up the left side of the slot, dusted it off and ripped it past Gibby. Game over.
“You lose! Good day sir!”
The Ducks played a great two-thirds of the game. Honestly, it may have been the best back to back periods they have played all season (meaning the first/second). However, a new trend that is showing up is them not finishing off games. It happened against the Red Wings, the Capitals, and now the Panthers. Also, Gibson has just not been the Gibson we all know and love. Not to say any of these one goals were his fault or “soft” goals. We are just used to seeing him make easy work of hard or seemingly impossible saves. It seems like some of the “easier” ones have been getting past him. I say this while typing on my keyboard in my office chair never having any real athletic accomplishments since Polk High.
There were some great moments from the team in this one, but the bad moments lead to a loss.
Complete side note, I am on board with Dallas Eakins, but he has had some questionable in game decisions lately and one that had me puzzled was not calling a time out in the third when they were getting crushed. It may not have made a difference, but why not stop the puck and give the guys a chance to settle down.
BY THE NUMBERS
Total Shots on Goal – DUCKS: 32 PANTHERS: 28
5v5 CF% – DUCKS: 52.68% PANTHERS: 47.32%
5v5 High Danger Chances For – DUCKS: 14 PANTHERS: 9
5v5 xGF – DUCKS: 2.85 PANTHERS: 1.98
**All stats courtesy of naturalstattrick.com
**Score card courtesy of hockeystatcards.com
1) Aaron Ekblad - 2 Goals and an assist for the dman. Also delivered Sam Steel a “welcome to the show” moment in OT.
2) Brett Connolly - He is my second start for having 2 goals in about twenty seconds in the second period. That’s a lot of 2’s.
3) Ondrej Kase - 1 goal and 1 assist for Ka$e. His line, along with Nick Ritchie and Sam Steel, also finished with a 69.57 CF% at 5v5. Not too shabby.
The Ducks will play the Tampa Bay Lightning at 4PM PST at Amalie Arena on Saturday 11/23.