Missed opportunities and frequent penalties spelled disaster as the Anaheim Ducks fell to the Winnipeg Jets Wednesday night. Despite Anaheim leading the shot attempts category, the Jets were the only team to get on the scoreboard. The Ducks had their fair share of scoring opportunities. It seemed whenever there was a high quality chance, more often than not the play would end up going nowhere due to a poor pass or the Ducks missing the net on the shot attempt.
After going down by one goal in the first, the Ducks began controlling play in the second. Corey Perry was a big center of attention on the night due to him taking multiple trips to the penalty box, which also didn’t give the Ducks much momentum to build off of. They did an excellent job of stopping Winnipeg’s powerplay, which ranks 4th in the league. This didn’t matter though as the Ducks began playing aggressively as time ticked down in the final period. They continued to get chances but still couldn’t get one past Connor Hellebuyck. The Jets would eventually pot two goals in the span of 3 minutes, which all but killed any hope the Ducks had at tying (or winning) the game.
Winnipeg is the top team in the Central as it stands and for good reason. The Ducks were matching up very well against them and seemed like the better team for a majority of the first period. The Ducks even killed off a penalty in the opening minutes of the game. Both teams were taking turns generating odd-man rushes.
Corey Perry and Adam Henrique got a great look halfway through the first. Henrique tried to get a pass over to Perry but sent it off a defender’s stick. Ritchie would follow up soon after but fired it into Hellebuyck’s chest.
The Ducks would once again start taking penalties near the five minute mark. The Jets were able to set up in the zone and Jacob Trouba sent a hard slap shot off the end board. Unfortunate puck luck had it bounce right out in front of the net. Mark Scheifele was the first one there and buried it on the second attempt. The Ducks would end the period on a powerplay of their own but could’t convert.
Anaheim went through the second period controlling play at times, but often trading off 2-on-1 rushes. All of this while Perry went off the ice every couple of minutes for a penalty, sometimes taking a Jets player with him. John Gibson was stellar for most of the game, coming up with big save after big save to keep things close.
Rickard Rakell had one of the better chances of the period. He came down inside the left faceoff dot and received a pass across from Cam Fowler for a one-timer. Hellebuyck just got a piece of the shot and it deflected wide of the net.
The Jets extended their lead early in the 3rd period with a nifty redirection from Kyle Conner off a Tyler Myers shot. It wouldn’t take long for the Jets to score yet another goal, this one from Nikolaj Ehlers. Ehlers was the first player to a dumped puck along the side boards. He sent a shot on goal from a very sharp angle and caught Gibson sleeping on the play. It definitely wasn’t a goal John Gibson will want to talk about and stood as his only true transgression of the game.
The Ducks would put on some pressure for the remainder of the game, including getting a fair share of power play opportunities for themselves, but again missed their opportunities. Having a pass slightly wide or behind, missing the net with shots, the list goes on but it wasn’t a very fortunate night for the Ducks.
Best and Worst
Best - Penalty Kill. Facing the fourth best power play in the league while having a bottom three penalty kill unit is far from ideal. The Ducks did really quite well, though, at defending, especially when they were on that penalty kill five times.
Worst - Missing the Net. The Ducks missed a lot of shot attempts. Several of them were great scoring chances as well. This is professional hockey we’re talking about, however, which means you should be able to convert those opportunities every now and again.
Three Stars of the Game
1. Connor Hellebuyck
2. John Gibson
3. Corey Perry - he may not have scored or helped the team much with his penalties, but he kept the game entertaining.
Ducks next game will take place Friday March 22nd when the host the San Jose Sharks. Puck drops at 7pm PST.