By Zack Hamada
Joe Louis arena has brought us Ducks fans some great matchups for the past two decades. Matchups like Paul Kariya vs Steve Yzerman, Teemu Selanne vs Sergei Fedorov, Scott Niedermayer vs Nicklas Lindstrom, Ryan Getzlaf vs Henrik Zetterberg. There have been some good times there and some not so good times. Anaheim’s second playoff series ever began in Detroit which resulted in the first-time Anaheim ever swept a playoff opponent. The first time the Ducks lost a game seven in a western conference playoff series it was in Joe Louis. Arguably the best backhand in Ducks history and most exciting finish to a playoff game ever happened there when Teemu Selanne closed out game 5 in 2007. All in all, the Ducks have played the Red Wings in six series in the playoffs, and have a 6-10 record at Joe Louis in those series. Tonight, Ryan Getzlaf and company were in Detroit to play at the Joe one last time.
Jonathan Bernier was the starting goaltender for Anaheim, and he had some big saves to start out the game. After one of these saves, the Ducks would get their first power play opportunity just minutes into the game. Silfverberg had the puck on the move when he was crosschecked by Detroit’s Xavier Ouellet in the neutral zone. With 30 seconds left on the power play, Sami Vatanen found an undefended Rickard Rakell feet from the goal crease. Catching Petr Mrazek out of position, Rakell one-timed the pass into a wide-open goal. Down 1-0 early in the game, the Red Wings came on strong and began to control the pace of the game, and the shots on goal. They would get their first opportunity on the power play when Nick Ritchie took a high-sticking penalty and would serve two minutes in the penalty box. However, Bernier and the penalty-killing unit came up big and shut the Detroit power play unit down.
Almost halfway through the period, Ryan Kesler was working the front of the net, trying to cause as much difficulty for the goalie and Detroit defense as possible. Jonathan Ericsson did not take kindly to Kesler’s efforts and would end up taking a roughing penalty. On the power play, Kesler got the puck on the boards in the offensive zone but lost it after a hit by Steve Ott. Shea Theodore was the first to the puck and put a hard shot on net from the point. With a lot of traffic in front of the net, Mrazek was not able to see the attempt and it would sail right past him. Theodore’s first goal of the year would put the ducks up 2-0.
After a failed challenge by Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill, Ott attempted to give his fans and teammates an energy boost. The veteran tough guy found his sparring partner in Anaheim rookie Joseph Cramarossa. The two traded some hard rights and lefts, however, it appeared that the rookie Cramarossa was getting the better of his elder. After a missed punch by Ott, Cramarossa threw a right that went high but allowed him to take down the Detroit forward. Each would get the standard five minutes for fighting. Ott’s attempt to motivate his team appeared to have some effect, as Detroit would get its first goal of the game just minutes later. Bernier stopped a shot from the slot by Mike Green but allowed a rebound to go to his left. Tomas Tatar was the first to the puck and before Bernier could recover he put it in the back of the net. The Ducks lead was now just 2-1 with 6 minutes left in the period. Tatar’s goal energized his team and they were pushing hard to tie the game before the intermission. However, solid defensive play by Anaheim and some big saves by Bernier allowed Anaheim to hold onto their lead. They would carry a 2-1 lead into the locker room but were outshot in the period 15-10.
Without a shot on goal by either team for the first 2 ½ minutes of the minutes, the period had a slow, yet physical start. Five minutes in the Ducks would get their lone goal of the period. Ryan Kesler drove the puck into the offensive zone, and when the defense collapsed on him he dropped the puck back to Andrew Cogliano. Cogliano would then drop the puck back again to Cam Fowler, who was flying down the left side to move up on the attack. Fowler let one rip from near the point. The puck went into the high corner on Mrazek’s glove side, giving the Ducks a 3-1 lead, and giving the Michigan native his 8th goal of the season. Detroit would answer back when in its final season Joe Lewis Arena would help the Red Wings out with a bounce off its boards. Tatar shot a puck wide, the rebound off the boards headed towards the net, bounced off the back of Bernier and into the net. Tatar’s second goal of the game cut the Anaheim lead to one.
Still, with a one goal lead, Rakell and Perry were on the attack. They moved the puck towards Mrazek and had a quality scoring opportunity, but Mrazek came up big and denied the duo. Detroit would take the rebound and move onto the breakout. In the offensive zone, Luke Glendening shot a puck that was blocked by Kevin Bieksa. The puck bounced toward the slot, then off Theodore and towards Bernier. Dylan Larkin was attempting to stop in front of the net when the puck deflected off his skate and into the net. The goal was reviewed by the referees to see if there was a kicking motion, but much to the chagrin of the people rooting for the team in white the call on the ice was confirmed. However, one review was not enough for Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle, and he challenged the goal for goalie interference. After a lengthy review, the call on the ice again was confirmed, leaving both teams without timeouts. The second unlucky bounce of the period would tie the game at three.
With momentum in their favor, Detroit seemed to outskate Anaheim in all zones. Thomas Vanek had a puck behind Anaheim’s net and skated it towards the slot almost undefended. He made an easy pass to Ouellet, who put a hard shot on net. The puck would sneak through Bernier, giving Detroit their first lead of the game. In the period the Ducks outshot the Red Wings 10-6, however after some bad bounces and a poor skating performance they were outscored 3-1. Detroit took a 4-3 lead into the locker room.
After letting in four goals Bernier took a seat, and John Gibson took over in net. Anaheim looked stronger coming out of the gate in the 3rd than it did at the end of the second. The first line offensive unit and the top defensive pairing started the period. They aggressively tried to get the puck into Detroit’s zone to make it a 4-4 game. A minute and a half in, Hampus Lindholm took a great shot on net that looked like it could have tied the game. However, the puck would fly off the post and minutes later Detroit would begin to get aggressive themselves.
Shea Theodore was skating the puck out of the defensive zone and lost control of it in front of Gibson. Tatar was all alone when he got the puck right in front of Gibson. He did a couple quick moves to put Gibson out of position, and then put it in the goal. Hats then began to fly onto the ice, as the goal was Tatar’s 3rd of the game. Detroit extended their lead to two, making it 5-3. Rakell helped cut the lead short after when he netted his second of the game and team-leading 14th goal of the season. Rakell took the puck away in the neutral zone and skated it into the Detroit zone. He quickly brought the puck towards his body, snapped it between a Detroit defenseman’s legs, and past Mrazek. On his next shift, he would again find the puck in the neutral zone and take it to the net all alone. Mrazek came up big this time and stopped the young Swedish natives breakaway attempt.
Detroit got to another rebound later in the period when Ryan Sproul shot the puck from the left wing. Gibson blocked the initial bid, but the puck deflected off his pad right to the open Frans Nielson. Nielson put the puck in the back of the net making it a 6-4 Detroit lead. Anaheim was making a push towards another late Joe Lewis Arena comeback. However, a Silfverberg delay of game penalty with a minute and a half left all but ensured a comeback would not be possible. With a man advantage and a minute left in the game, Detroit skated the remaining clock out to seal their 6-4 win. Detroit outshot the Ducks in the third 11-5, for 32-25 shots on goal advantage in the game.
The Ducks have scored four or more goals in four out of their last six games. They have also allowed four or more goals in four out of their last six games. For a team that had the lowest goals against average last season, and was highly touted about defensive abilities coming into the season, they don’t seem to be performing to the capabilities everyone believes they have. Offensively they are looking better, as they are scoring more goals and the offense looks to be more fluid. Defensively they look strong at times, but the errors and bad bounces have proven to be costly. In a league where most goals are being scored on bad bounces and errors, limiting them is probably Carlyle’s number one priority. Detroit outpaced the Ducks on the ice tonight, and even though they had 31 hits I think Carlyle would have preferred a couple more quality hits in the defensive zone to slow Detroit down.
The loss puts Anaheim’s record at JLA at 7-26-8 all time. There were some great memories created there for many of us, but I’m sure we’re all looking forward to establishing a winning record at the Little Caesars Arena.
The Ducks head to Toronto on Monday, December 19th to face our old friend Frederik Andersen, rookie sensation Auston Matthews, and the Maple Leafs. The visit will be coach Randy Carlyle’s first time back to Toronto since being let go in the beginning of 2015. It will also mark the first time that Andersen faces his old teammates after being traded in the offseason.
Click below for video highlights of this game.
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December 18, 2016