By Bryson Breedlove (Summary) and Mike Walters (Analysis and Stats)
The Anaheim Ducks entered Wednesday nights contest against the Buffalo Sabres riding a 5 game winning streak, and looking like the team we expected to see at the beginning of the season. After John Gibson stood strong against the Calgary Flames on Sunday, it was Frederik Andersen’s turn to get in net.
The first period started quick enough, with the first almost 5 minutes passing with no whistles; however there were not many chances for either team. In recent years Ducks fans have expected the Ducks be extremely aggressive in the first period, however it appeared that the Sabres had the edge halfway through the first. Nearing the end of the first Ryan Kesler headed to the box for two minutes after tripping up Rasmus Ristolainen. Andersen stood tall and was able to keep the game a 0-0 tie. The period then came to an end with the Sabres out shooting the Ducks 9-6.
The second period was a totally different story; not only were the Ducks able to outscore the Sabres 15-11, they were also able to capitalize on one out of two of their power play chances. The Ducks were awarded a power play two minutes and 21 seconds into the second, when Mark Pysyk interfered with recent San Diego Gulls call up Nick Ritchie. A little less than one minute later, Sami Vatanen was able to send the puck through a thick screen and break the 0-0 tie, with assists by Ryan Getzlaf and Hampus Lindholm. The Ducks were also able to kill off a second power play opportunity for the Sabres. The second period ended with the Ducks leading 1-0, and outshooting the Sabres 21-20.
With the Ducks 20 minutes away from claiming a 6th straight victory, the Ducks needed to keep their foot on the gas. However 30 seconds into the 3rd they were on the penalty kill. The remainder of the third period seemed to show Buffalo keeping pace with the Ducks, but only narrowly missing golden opportunities to tie the game, including another power play opportunity. However it was not enough to get past the Ducks great goaltending effort from Andersen.
Player Of The Game
Frederik Andersen is the clear choice here. He pitched a shutout making all 26 stops. He had some keys saves in all three periods and he just needed was one goal from Anaheim’s offense for the victory.
Key Moment Of The Game
There were plenty of moments when Andersen made great saves, but the best probably came in the second period with about 4:35 left in the period. Buffalo had a 3-on-1 rush and Andersen had to make two saves to prevent the Sabres from scoring.
This was an odd game compared to the way the Ducks have been playing in the past couple of weeks. Instead of a high scoring affair, this was a defensive battle from the beginning at the puck drop. This game was a goalie duel with Andersen out lasting Robin Lehner, who also played well stopping 28 of 29 Anaheim shots.
Beside Andersen’s play, the difference in this game came down to special teams. The Ducks were awarded three power plays in this game and cashed in on the second one, when Vatanen’s point shot made it through a screened Lehner. Buffalo had four power play opportunities and Anaheim was able to kill off all of the penalties. It’s the first game the Ducks did not allow a power play goal, after giving up at least one in their last seven straight games.
Andersen has not lost a regulation game going back to December 21, 2015. Since that time he has gone 10-0-2 with a GAA of 2.10 and .926 SV%. This was his first shutout of the season, fourth in his career.
Getzlaf extended his point streak to nine games. He has four goals and 10 assists during that span.
Vatanen’s goal on the power play ties him with Kesler and Lindholm for second most of the team with four. Perry leads the team with seven power play goals.
The Ducks play the Oilers this Friday at 7PM.
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