By Bryson Breedlove and Michael Walters
Over the past few years the Anaheim Ducks have not faired so well on National Television. Tonight changed the tide. After a let down against their rival Los Angeles Kings, the Ducks looked ahead to a late start against the Minnesota Wild. Entering the contest the Ducks were a 19-18-7, while the Wild were 22-15-8. Recently both teams have had trouble finding the back of the net. John Gibson was in net for the Ducks, while Devan Dubnyk was guarding the Wild goal.
The start of the game saw both teams feeling out each other, with much of the pay coming between the blue line. That was until Erik Haula picked up a loose puck and got it over to the former Los Angeles King, Jarret Stoll, who snapped it just past John Gibson to make it a 1-0 Minnesota game. That lead did not last for long as less than five minutes later, recent call up from San Diego, Shea Theodore, took a pass and walked it along the blue line before sniping it towards Dubnyk, a tip from Chris Stewart made sure it found the back of the neck. That made the game a 1-1 tie.
If you have been a Ducks fan for any considerable amount of time, you will know that the second period has been the Ducks crux for the past few years. Tonight was different. While the Ducks were unable to find the back of the net in second period, they also did not allow a goal. This was a huge step in the right direction.
The third period saw a back and forth start for the first half of the period, and the game seemed to be destined for overtime. However with a little over 6 minutes remaining in the game the Ducks broke off on a three on two. Corey Perry brought the puck in, passed it to Patrick Maroon who tossed it towards Dubnyk. Rickard Rakell was there to make sure it went in as they have practiced. With that goal the Ducks had their first lead of the night. Jakob Silfverberg sealed the victory with an empty netter with about 49 seconds left.
Play Of The Game
In a game that wasn’t filled with much scoring, Rakell’s goal was easily the best play of the game. Perry made the initial pass across the ice to Maroon, who then found Rakell at the side of the net for the tap in goal. It was a well executed play and the game-winning goal.
Stat Of The Game
28 minutes and 33 seconds of ice time by Hampus Lindholm. That was a season high for him as the Ducks had to lean on him with several injures on the blue line.
This was a game that the Ducks needed to win on so many levels. First, if the Ducks would have lost then the home stand record would have been an even 4-4-0. If they want to make the playoffs, then they have to keep a winning record. Second, the Ducks rebounded to win this game after losing a close one to Los Angeles. Lastly, they gained some momentum before they go out on a three game road trip.
The lineup Bruce Boudreau used in the final period against Los Angeles seemed to work tonight. The Perron-Getzlaf-Stewart came though with the first goal tonight by Stewart. And the Maroon-Rakell-Perry line made a great tic-tac-toe play for the game winner. Perry and Getzlaf were separate at the beginning of the season and it didn’t work out well for the Ducks back then. The addition of David Perron and his familiarity with Chris Stewart may make this strategy work instead.
Both teams had a difficult time generating quality scoring chances. The Ducks didn’t have a second period let down and were able to pull out the victory late in the third period. They will need more solid efforts as they will face Washington, Detroit, and Boston on this road trip.
With the victory the Ducks find themselves just 2 points out of a playoff spot.
Ducks have allowed 20 goals in 11 games since the holiday break. That is the least by an NHL team in total goals and in goals-against per game(1.72).
Rakell’s goal was his 10th this season. He is only the second Ducks player to have scored double-digit goals this season.
Theodore recorded an assist pushing his scoring streak to four games.
Perron has a two point scoring streak, earning a goal in his first game and an assist in his second game as a Duck.
The Ducks head out on the road to Washington to play the Capitals this Friday at 4PM PST.
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