By Michael Walters and Tasha Florentz-Clift
The Anaheim Ducks have not lived up to expectations this season. After head coach Bruce Boudreau was brought on board, Duck fans have been used to fast starts and early Pacific Division leads. This season is anything but that. Things are starting to look up for the Ducks. They had a very successful three game Canadian road trip against three Pacific Division teams(Flames, Oilers, Canucks). They earned 5 out of 6 possible points and only allowed one goal in regulation. Since the offense has been snake bit, the defense has taken over. Trouble is, that kind play means the goalie has to be perfect. Case in point our shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks. We all knew that sooner or later our puck luck had to change and tonight was the night!
The Ducks would get on the board first as Rickard Rakell worked hard behind the Winnipeg net, lost the puck momentarily, then fired it past Michael Hutchinson. On the very next face off Chris Stewart and Chris Thorburn dropped the gloves for a good 45 seconds. Just over a minute later Jacob Trouba would get two minutes for interference. With time winding down on the man advantage, Kevin Bieksa would blast one past Hutcinson giving the Ducks a 2-0 lead. It was Bieksa’s first goal on the season. With four minutes left in the period, Corey Perry would get two minutes for interference, but the Ducks killed the penalty. Rakell also got an interference penalty in the final two minutes that would carry over to start the second period. Ducks led 2-0 and held the shot advantage of 14 to 8.
The Ducks killed the remaining time of Rakell’s penalty to start the period. Then just over five minutes into the period, Perry would score giving the Ducks a 3-1 lead. John Gibson got his first assist of the season on the play. A few minutes later Tyler Myers would get the Jets on the board, when he shot a puck that Carl Hagelin tried to block, but ended up redirecting past Gibson. The Ducks then went short-handed as Patrick Maroon got called for high sticking, but the Ducks again killed the penalty. Late in the period Toby Enstrom would get called for tripping and the Ducks would convert as Ryan Kesler scored to make it a 4-1 lead. Ducks outshot the Jets 9 to 7 in this period.
The Ducks would go short-handed early in this period as Andrew Cogliano was called for slashing. Ducks killed this penalty to remain perfect on the night. Anaheim did a good job of not sitting on the lead and kept attacking this period. They nearly scored again with just under a minute to go, but were denied by Hutchinson. Korbinian Holzer did glove the puck after the play and throw it into the Winnipeg net. Dustin Byfuglien checked Holzer as a result and both received penalties. Ducks went on to win 4-1.
Key Moment of the Game
Anaheim has not gotten a lot of power play opportunities recently, but they have started to capitalize on them when they do. Kevin Bieksa scores a crucial power play goal about halfway through the first period to give the Ducks a two goal lead. This gave the team some much needed confidence and some breathing room. It would be the eventual game-winner.
Key Stat of the Game
Special Teams! Being 100% on the power play and penalty kill on the night is huge for this team. The Ducks have started to click on the power play recently by scoring on the man advantage for a season high three straight games(4 for 6 during this time). Their penalty killing was again stellar tonight killing all four penalties against. Anaheim is still number one in the league with 88.6% percentage!
My Three Duck Stars
1. Rickard Rakell – 1 goal and 1 assist. He got the Ducks scoring started with a brilliant individual effort for his 8th goal of the season. He also added an assist on Corey Perry’s second period goal.
2. Kevin Bieksa – 1 goal and 1 assist. He has been solid defensively over the past 5 games. He has really started to shine after his defensive partner Cam Fowler went down with an injury. He scored his first goal as a Duck tonight on the power play to give the team a 2 goal lead in the first period. He added an assist on Ryan Kesler’s second period power play goal.
3. Shea Theodore and Korbinian Holzer – Both guys played a solid, simple game tonight. Holzer took the place of Clayton Stoner who would not play because he was a little “banged up”. Shea has been a steady presence filling the void left by the injury to Cam Fowler. Shea had 3 minutes of power play time and 2 minutes of penalty killing time tonight. Only Sami Vatanen had more time on special teams than Shea did.
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