By Michael Walters
The Anaheim Ducks took on the Washington Capitals with a chance to claim the Pacific Division. John Gibson and Ryan Kesler returned to California with minor injuries. Frederik Andersen started in net for Anaheim. Washington rested Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Brooks Orpik, John Carlson, and Jay Beagle. Philipp Grubauer went in net for Washington.
Despite not having many of their regulars, Washington came out strong in the opening period. Andersen had to make many quality saves. The Ducks had to kill an early penalty to keep it scoreless. Clayton Stoner and Michael Latta dropped the gloves late in the period. The Ducks did go on the power play at the end of the period. They did not score, but the power play carried over to the second period. Shots were nine to six in advantage of Anaheim.
The Ducks didn’t score on the power play, but still took over in this period. First Corey Perry would score on a nice pass from Ryan Garbutt. Perry received the pass and made a nice wrap around to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead. The Ducks would score again as Nick Ritchie would redirect a shot by Mike Santorelli to make it 2-0. The Ducks had two power plays this period and the Capitals had one, neither converted with the extra man. Shots were 11 to eight in favor of Washington.
The Ducks went into full shutdown mode in the third period and it worked. Andersen was on his game and stopped quality chances by the Capitals throughout the game. The Capitals did have one power play chance for about a minute and a half, until Andre Burakovsky was called for goalie interference. The teams played 4-on-4 briefly, then the Ducks had a power play. There was no scoring in this period and the Ducks won 2-0.
Key Play of the Game
In the third period, the Capitals had a power play and had chances to pull within one goal. Andersen made key stops and the Ducks team defense stepped up the rest of the way.
Player of the Game
Frederik Andersen. He made every save he had to in this game. After being out for a while with a concussion, he came in and played a perfect game.
24 saves by Andersen. It may not have seemed like that many shots, but the Capitals had some quality scoring chances and Andersen stopped everything that came his way.
The Ducks didn’t start the game off great. The Capitals took the play to Anaheim in the first ten minutes of the game, but then Anaheim responded. The Ducks picked up their game and carried the play especially in the second period. The third period was a collective team effort as the Ducks shut down the Capitals to preserve the shutout in route to a fourth Pacific Division title.
The Ducks will now face the Nashville Predators. The Ducks were 1-2-0 against them in the regular season, but those games were all in the beginning of the season when Anaheim wasn’t playing well. In the 2010-2011 playoffs, these two teams met with Nashville winning the series 4-2. Anaheim had a chance to take a 3-2 series lead in game five, but a late goal by Shea Weber with only 36 seconds left tied the game. Nashville went on to win that game in OT and then win the series in six games. The Ducks will look for a little payback this time around.
The Anaheim Ducks claimed their fourth Pacific Division title in a row.
For the first time in franchise history the Anaheim Ducks won the William Jennings trophy for the lowest GAA for the NHL season.
The Ducks are the first team since the 1984-85 New York Islanders to lead the league in both in power play and penalty kill percentages.
The Ducks open the playoffs on Friday April 15 at home against the Nashville Predators. Game starts at 7:30 PM. Here is the rest of the first round schedule.
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