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Ducks vs Wild RECAP: A Wild Green Bummer

Anaheim takes a disappointing loss as they head into a much needed break in the schedule.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Anaheim played a strong game overall Tuesday night, using new line combinations and winning all the early puck battles, but ultimately succumbed to too many mistakes as Minnesota would finish the game scoring four unanswered goals.

The first period started off with a bang, as the Ducks played an uncharacteristically strong opening 10 minutes. They possessed the puck well enough that it felt like a constant power play with lines changing midway through offensive shifts.

Head Coach Dallas Eakins changed the line combinations, having Adam Henrique anchor Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie, while Sam Steel was slotted between the power pairing of Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg. The combinations all felt dangerous, as the Anaheim wings seemed to form nice chemistry, regularly connecting on quick passes off the boards and into dangerous parts of the ice.

John Gibson made his nightly highlight reel of saves, and made them early, while Henrique was robbed of a good opportunity during their first period onslaught.

Silfververg and Rakell seemed unstoppable early on in the offensive zone last night. Their strong puck possession and dangerous passes to the front of the net put constant pressure on Wild goaltender Alex Stalock. They would be rewarded to open the second.

Thirty seconds later Jacob Larsson would get his first goal of his career on a shot from the blue line that wizzed past a Kase screen and over the shoulder of Stalock.

The momentum, and subsequently the 2-0 commanding lead, would immediately come to a screeching halt as Korbinian Holzer was forced to take a penalty to stop a Wild breakaway thanks to an errant pass and mishandled puck on his part.

The Ducks opened the third period flat footed, and the Wild would capitalize on their sloppy passes and tired feet. They failed to get any dangerous shots during their power play, and then made a costly mistake, turning over a puck that would be dished ahead for Mats Zuccaerllo, who would snap a shot through Gibson’s five hole after receiving a breakaway pass as he exited the penalty box.

From there, the Ducks just seemed to fall asleep at the wheel, playing a messy third period and creating few dangerous chances. The Wild would go on to effectively kill time as they sought to protect their lead.

Dallas Eakins after the game had this to say, “We did so many great things in that first period. . . that gave us great energy, and everything was in our favor.”

Thanks to quick line changes and good possession the Ducks were able to keep constant pressure. That would change dramatically however, as far too often during the third tired players would find themselves stranded on the ice, desperately trying to generate offensive chances but endangering the defense with tired legs.

The Ducks will look to rest up and recuperate as they don’t play again until the high flying Edmonton McDavids come to town for a Sunday afternoon game.

BEST

Rakell and Silfverberg are really, really, really dangerous together.

WORST

The defense needs help. Holzer can’t seem to handle the puck while keeping his head up and ruined multiple offensive possessions by failing to corral and pass the puck in sufficient time.

Cam Fowler is having one of the best years of his career, but it seems as if Hampus Lindholm is being asked to do too much while his line mate Josh Manson recovers from an MCL injury.

THREE STARS

Jakob Silfverberg - Earning the “A” on his jersey, he has been one of the best Ducks players on a night-to-night basis. He still has dangerously quick hands and fast feet, but this year what stands out in particular is his ability to win puck battles and pressure teams on the forecheck.

Rickard Rakell - Easily the most dangerous offensive player on the roster, the puck just seems to be glued to Rakell’s stick when he’s on the ice. He played a great game tonight, generating six of the Ducks 11 scoring chances, and seven of their 31 shots on net.

Sam Steel - Being asked to center the most dangerous Ducks duo is no small task for player of his age and experience, but he stepped into the role and played admirably.