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Liveblog: Ducks take down Jets in season opener

Going in as underdogs, Anaheim managed to catch Winnipeg off guard, and took advantage of whatever chances they could get.

John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks makes a save in front of Adam Lowry #17 of the Winnipeg Jets in the first period at Honda Center on October 13, 2021 in Anaheim, California. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Anaheim Ducks played a Canadian team for the first time since early 2020, as the Winnipeg Jets visited Orange County last night.

First Period

Mason McTavish was a surprise lineup plug-in, as it looked like he was set to be a healthy scratch, however, Max Jones came down with a non-COVID-related illness, which allowed the young winger to slot into the line up.

Not a great penalty kill for the Ducks early in the first period, as they allowed seven shots, but John Gibson continuously bailed them out.

On their first shot of the game, off of what seemed like a nothing shot, the Ducks took a 1-0 lead after Kevin Shattenkirk flicked the puck from the far boards. You won’t see Connor Hellebuyck allow too many of those, but Anaheim will take it.

The Ducks were getting greasy in front of the net, with Jakob Silfverberg getting it to the crease, and Isac Lundestrom jamming away at the puck, but it was Mason McTavish who got the final piece of it, to put Anaheim up 2-0 and collect his first career NHL goal.

The only reason the Ducks were in the lead up to this point was due to how elite Gibson has been in net. Absolutely putting this team on his back, he saved all 15 shots that came his way in the first period, good for a 1.59 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx).

An interesting statistic to look at, Trevor Zegras had less 5-on-5 ice time in the first period than Derek Grant and Nicolas Deslauriers. Need to get the young blood more opportunities, they are the future.

Second Period

Early in the second period, Blake Wheeler faked a snapshot and got the pass over to Kyle Connor, who sent an absolute bomb of a one-timer into the empty cage as Gibson was helpless on the ice. The Jets came within one goal, down 2-1.

Gibson absolutely robbed Josh Morrissey, who had almost the entire net to shoot at. Keeping the game at 2-1, he has been terrific.

Wheeler took a hooking penalty and the Ducks finally got their first power play of the game, with eight minutes remaining in the second period.

We got a first look at the Ducks' top power play unit: Rickard Rakell, Maxime Comtois, Ryan Getzlaf, Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale are what they ran with to start.

The second power play unit was the one to get it down, however. Fowler took a shot from the slot that was tipped by Adam Henrique, putting Anaheim up 3-1 in the second period.

Gibson continued his absolute dominance throughout the second frame of the game. He finished the period with 23 saves on 24 shots, good for a .958 SV% and 1.07 GSAx.

Third Period

Early in the third, Henrique took a tripping penalty. The Ducks will need to be more disciplined as the season goes on. Gibson has been great, but he won’t be able to carry this poor Ducks defense forever, as we saw last year.

McTavish drew a penalty on Neal Pionk, which nullified Winnipeg’s power play and brought it to 4-on-4 action.

The Jets got on a 3-on-1 after a bad pinch by Shattenkirk, but Gibson robbed Morrissey with the glove and maintained the two-goal lead with a clutch save.

On the power play, Drysdale fired one from the point that was tipped by Rakell, who was in front of the net. The Ducks’ power play looked great all night, and Anaheim was now up by a score of 4-1.

Zegras got a very good look right in front of Hellebuyck, who just barely shouldered it away. The rookie could’ve put the Ducks up by four goals there.

Andrew Copp ran into Gibson, who was down for a minute, but he got up, ready to continue.

The Ducks hold onto the lead and win the game 4-1, starting the season with a 1-0-0 record.

Notes

  • This win does not happen without Gibson. He saved 33 of 34 shots, recorded a .971 SV% and a 2.44 GSAx. We have to hope he can continue this for Anaheim, as he’ll be the biggest factor in whatever success they achieve.
  • McTavish had himself an amazing NHL debut. He recorded a goal, an assist and drew a penalty. He also had a 51.00 xG%, ranking sixth on the Ducks. If he keeps performing like this, he will get the entire season up in the NHL, and won’t be going back to the Ontario Hockey League.
  • Zegras needs to get more opportunities. He was limited to just 13:22 of time on ice, just 0:27 more than Deslauriers, whose role is to be a fourth-line grinder. If Zegras is meant to become the face of the franchise, he needs to be given a larger role. He led the team in xG% with 84.86 and had two shots on goal.
  • The Ducks’ next game will be against the Minnesota Wild on Friday night, where they will look to spoil their opponent’s season opener. Expect Gibson to get the start again.