Tonight started with an incredible moment for Ducks fans alike: the raising of Scott Niedermeyer’s jersey number. The #27 immortalized in the rafters of the Honda Center in Anaheim California (way cooler than New Jersey). A lot was expected out of the Ducks to make this night as memorable as possible, and they did not disappoint one bit. In fact, I would even say they exceeded expectations in terms of making the night exciting and unforgettable.
Despite giving up the first goal, the Ducks had a fire behind them to generate scoring chances. Going back and forth with the defending champs in the first two periods, they came out blazing in the third, adding 3 goals to help end the game 5-2. The Ducks got great performances from some of their leaders, Ryan Getzlaf, Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg, and Corey Perry who recorded his first goal since returning from injury. Cam Fowler also recorded an assist during the game, making him the all-time leader in assists as an Anaheim defenseman. The previous record holder, Scott Niedermeyer of course.
Finally on the list of highlights for the Ducks incredible night, Ryan Miller made his return after missing two months. He backstopped the Ducks to a victory bringing his total to 375 career wins, the most wins ever by a US born goaltender.
The Ducks went down a man early with Hampus Lindholm going off for a questionable tripping call against Alexander Ovechkin. And of course the Capitals convert the advantage with the goal coming from none other than Ovechkin. The Ducks penalty unit got caught shifting too far to one side and Ovi was found wide open in his usual spot. Carlson fed him the puck and Ovi ripped a one timer to beat Miller.
The team took control of the period from there, dominating in shots, and getting the shooting lanes and chances, but just couldn’t seem to get to the rebounds or create second chances quick enough.
Corey Perry would get called for holding the stick so the Capitals would get another chance at the power play. This time however, the Ducks didn’t let the Caps get a single shot on goal and turned it into another surge of momentum for themselves. It resulted in the Capitals taking their first penalty and a golden opportunity for the Ducks to tie it before the end of the period. Unfortunately, Anaheim got out-chanced during the remaining time, only getting one shot in the final seconds. They did manage to outshoot the Capitals 16-8 and had some power play time that would carry over into the second period.
Ducks began with just over 30 seconds left on the man-advantage but couldn’t convert. The Capitals began to push back with their own pressure, starting with a clean breakaway chance for Ovechkin. He dangled in close and tried to sneak it forehand but Miller was able to kick his pack back in time to stop it. He would add on another stop against a Nicklas Backstrom partial breakaway not long after.
Ducks would even the game back up at the seven minute mark. Henrique won a faceoff clean and the puck worked its way back to Brandon Montour. Montour wasted no time putting a shot on net and Henrique got a piece of it to change its direction and beat Holtby.
Ducks once again took control of the game for a stretch and got a couple great extended periods in the offensive zone. One of the best chances came from the Captain, Getzlaf. He was all alone in close and received a great pass across, but Holtby came sprawling across the crease and got a toe on it.
The Ducks would take the lead after a total collapse in positioning by the Capitals, which left Silfverberg literally all alone in front of the net as everyone battled for the puck near to top of the blue line. The Ducks won the puck battle and got it to Silfverberg. Silf set up a little tic-tac-toe play with Henrique to take the lead.
It didn’t take long for the Capitals to even it back up though. John Carlson stopped a puck-clearing attempt by the Ducks at the blue line and quickly fired a wrist shot on net. Ovechkin and Lindholm battle in front and screened Miller is the puck went in top corner.
Ducks would get another great opportunity on the ensuing shift from their big 3. Perry entered the zone and dropped it off for Getzlaf, who then found Rickard Rakell streaking in past the defenseman. Rakell went backhand-forehand but Holtby got another great save by getting the glove on it.
The period ended with Tom POS Wilson going to the box for running into Miller which meant the Ducks would begin yet another period while on the power play.
The third period is when the Ducks really turned on the jets, and the Capitals really spun out of control. Both positive things if you’re a Ducks fan.
On the power play to start the period, the Ducks got the puck on net and caused a battled for a loose puck in front. Holtby was scrambling, and players were on the ground, but Henrique was able to get a stick on the puck and bang it in to give the Ducks the lead once again, 3-2.
Nick Ritchie would get tripped just minutes later giving the Ducks another man-advantage. They won the faceoff and got set up with the puck making its way around the perimeter. Fowler sent a great pass across to Perry who ripped the one timer into a wide open net.
Capitals would commit yet another penalty after allowing the second straight power play goal for the Ducks. They managed to kill this one off, but couldn’t ever recover enough to get enough momentum going. There were some back and forth chance for both teams, but the dagger came at the 5 minute mark.
(Elite 1C) Derek Grant made a play at the blue line to help shovel the puck into the offensive zone. Silfverberg was there to pick up the puck and ripped a wrist-shot past Holtby, making it 5-2.
Best and Worst
Records broken and reveling one of the greatest defensemen. Celebrating Scott Niedermeyer is something everyone can enjoy. He had an incredible career, was an amazing hockey player on the ice, and seems to be a pretty great guy off the ice. I’m sure it made hime happy to see Cam Fowler, who used to live with the Niedermeyers, pass him on the Ducks assist list. And to see Ryan Miller become the winningest US goalie is something pretty special in its own right.
For the sake of how the night began, and how it ended, I’m going to pass on a “worst”. The Ducks did what they needed to do tonight and got efforts all around.
Scoring. The Ducks actually looked... good on offense. They put up just short of 40 shots and 14 more shots than the Capitals. Their top nine were all consistently contributing to the scoring chances. Henrique and Silfverberg played apart and excelled, putting up three points and two points. Corey Perry got a goal and an assist and the top line was lethal at times. Five defensemen recorded a point. The Ducks completely broke through the Caps’ defense at times and got a lot of quality chances, resulting in the final score of 5-2. Even the defense play looked good and Miller played great.
Three Stars of the Game
1. Scott Niedermeyer - the night was for you, superstar!
2. Ryan Miller - congrats and enjoy your historic feat!
3. Adam Henrique - 3-point night including the game-winner.
So to recap: Scott Niedermeyer’s number was retired, Cam Fowler passed him on the all-time assists by defenseman list, Corey Perry broke the seal for his impending scoring tear, Ryan Miller became the winningest US born goaltender in history, and the Ducks whooped the defending champs’ ass. Yeah, it was a pretty solid night to be a Ducks fan. Pretty much the first time this season.
Ducks now head out on a 4-game road trip. Their first stop against Minnesota on Tuesday the 19th. Puck drops at 5pm PST.