By Zack Hamada
The Anaheim Ducks would face off against the Chicago Blackhawks, at home on Black Friday. Having lost their last two games at home, the Ducks were looking for a much-needed win to help rectify the past and to start some momentum in the right direction. Chicago came into the game on a two-game losing streak as well, and without Jonathan Toews, were looking to keep their Black Friday streak alive while breaking another.
Anaheim outpaced their opponent for the first half of the period, controlling most of the play and containing Chicago’s lethal offense. After a TV timeout 11 minutes in, the Blackhawks won a defensive zone face-off to Brent Seabrook who caught Patrick Kane in the neutral zone with a long pass. Kane was driving hard with linemate Artem Anisimov to the goal, and right past some flatfooted Anaheim defensemen. Kane put the puck on the goal from the right of the net, but John Gibson came up with a big pad save. A second attempt on the rebound by Kane was also thwarted by Gibson, and the puck would end up between his pads. Anisimov would get to the puck before anyone in orange could, and put it behind Gibson on the third attempt, putting Chicago up 1-0. The Ducks would continue to dominate play in the period after the goal, and only gave up a total of 6 shots on goal in the period. Having 9 shots on goal of their own, it seemed the Ducks weren’t going to get the puck luck they needed yet again. Chicago headed to the locker room up 1-0
The 2nd period would start off much in the same way as the first, with Anaheim appearing to dominate the play in Chicago’s zone. Anaheim’s shutdown line of Ryan Kesler, Andrew Cogliano, and Jakob Silfverberg had numerous good looks and scoring chances to start the period and throughout the game. However, after a string of icing calls by our “friends” in the black and white stripes, one of which player and fans alike did not seem to agree with, the Ducks would go down a man when a tired Kevin Bieksa took a slashing penalty in the defensive zone. This was Chicago’s first power play of the game, and Patrick Kane would make Anaheim pay for the mistake. A minute into the power play, Brent Seabrook found Kane with a backdoor pass to the right circle. With nobody around him, Kane ripped the one-timer right past Gibson’s left side and into the net, putting Chicago up 2-0. After the goal, the Ducks again would seem to control the play of the game, until Chicago center Marcus Kruger took the puck away from Shea Theodore in Anaheim’s zone. Ryan Hartman would be the first one to the puck and would put it behind Gibson from the slot. Chicago was up 3-0, and morale was beginning to feel low at Honda Center when Nick Ritchie found the puck just as announcer Phil Hulett was announcing the goal. Ritchie wristed the puck between a Chicago Defenseman’s legs, right over Crawford’s shoulder and into the net. The shot cut the lead to 2 and brought come life back into Anaheim’s faithful.
Outshooting Chicago 21-15 in the first two periods, the Ducks continued to control the play in the 3rd. After a series of missed scoring opportunities and some pucks off the post, Anaheim seemed to have cut the lead again when Ondrej Kase put a rebound behind Crawford. After further review, and another call to the war room in Toronto, the goal was nullified as it appeared Kase batted the puck down with his hand and it would go in off his skate. Just three minutes later the Ducks would put one in the net that would count. Ryan Kesler got to a rebound of a shot by Silfverberg and put it behind the goal line. Silfverberg would be the first one to the puck and quickly skated it behind the net. He caught Crawford off balance and wrapped it around the net and into the goal, cutting the lead to 1 with over 11 minutes remaining in the game. For the rest of the game, the Ducks were in full catch-up mode, allowing only minimal threats by Chicago. With 1 minute left in the period and still down by 1, the Ducks pulled Gibson for the extra attacker. In that minute the Ducks generated multiple opportunities from Shea Theodore, Rickard Rakell, Corey Perry and others, but the puck luck still wasn’t there and none of them found the back of the net. Chicago would clear the puck with just seconds left to ensure their win.
This was the Ducks third loss in a row this season and fifth consecutive loss to Chicago on Black Friday. However, looking at the gameplay from tonight and the past two games it would not seem that the final score is telling the whole story. Anaheim controlled the play almost all game tonight and ended up outshooting their opponent 36-25. Chicago’s only real scoring opportunities came on the fast breaks, and special teams. Other than that Anaheim seemed to be the better team tonight. If it were not for a few bad bounces and a few defensive miscues this game was easily Anaheim’s for the taking. However, it was theirs to lose as well and moving forward they are going to need to find a way to create their own puck luck and limit the mistakes. If I am Randy Carlyle, I am looking for a way so that my other lines can emulate the play of the shutdown line because they have hands down been the best offensive and defensive line as of late, even if that means splitting up the twins.
The Ducks travel to San Jose to take on the Sharks tomorrow. The game starts at 7:30 PM PT.
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