By Zack Hamada
The Anaheim Ducks took the ice to finish off the season series versus the Boston Bruins. Ryan Getzlaf and crew were looking to get out of their recent scoring slump and slow down the streaking Bruins. Boston, winners of their last 4 games, were looking for some redemption after the Ducks had a 4-3 comeback win against the Bruins earlier this season. Anaheim would have to deny the Bruins and find their scoring touch tonight without starting goaltender John Gibson. Gibson was listed earlier as day to day with a lower-body injury so Jonathan Bernier would be in the crease for the Ducks. Bernier’s last performance saw him allow 3 goals on 6 shots, in only 20 minutes of play, and he was looking to redeem himself tonight. Trying to find some extra support offensively, the Ducks called up Nic Kerdiles. Tonight was the much-anticipated NHL debut for the 23-year-old out of Irvine.
Bernier and Tuukka Rask would start the game in net for their respective teams. Nic Kerdiles got his first NHL shift at the 1:25 mark of the first period, skating alongside one-time Rocket Richard trophy winner Corey Perry, and Rickard Rakell. The game’s first power play opportunity would go to Anaheim just two minutes in when Brandon Carlo tripped Ondrej Kase. Anaheim’s struggling Power play looked good on their first attempt, having a couple scoring opportunities and offensive zone time. However, they were not able to capitalize on the penalty, and Carlo would rejoin the play after his two minutes were up. Nine minutes into the game Carlo would again come center stage. On an offensive zone faceoff win by the Bruins, Carlo blasted a shot on net that went right past Bernier’s blocker and into the goal. Boston’s 3rd shot of the game put them up 1-0 almost midway through the first.
Boston would get their first power play opportunity minutes later when Hampus Lindholm lifted a puck over the glass and would head to the box for a delay of game penalty. However, the brick wall that is Anaheim’s penalty kill was not worried. Anaheim’s penalty killers were pestering the Bruins and would not let them set up. Andrew Cogliano got to a loose puck on the penalty kill and made a quick self-pass to put him on a breakaway. Cogliano had a phenomenal scoring chance but saw the puck go off the post. His aggressive play on the penalty kill did however, draw a penalty. Patrice Bergeron would go off for holding 41 seconds into the penalty, and the teams would skate with 4 aside for a minute and 19 seconds. Neither team could capitalize on the specials teams play.
The last penalty of the period would again go against Anaheim when Kase went off for tripping with 2:16 remaining. Much like the previous penalty kills, Anaheim was getting to Boston before they could set up, and even seeing some offensive zone time. They killed off the penalty only allowing 1 shot on goal and the remaining 16 seconds would wind down without incident. The Ducks would head to the locker room down 1-0 and tied 7-7 in shots on goal with the Bruins.
Two minutes into the second period Ryan Getzlaf had a dump in attempt blocked close to the blue line. He would, however, get to the puck and find an open Kase in the slot. Kase quickly got the puck to a streaking Nick Ritchie. Ritchie covered by two Bruin defenders gave the puck right back to Kase. The puck landed right in Kase’s wheelhouse, he quickly put it on net and right past Rask’s glove. Kase’s goal tied the game at one, and this lines chemistry just seems to keep improving.
Five minutes into the second the Ducks would again go down a man when Kevin Bieksa was sent to the box for hooking. Boston set themselves up much better this time and got some great scoring chances. The first attempt came on a cross-ice attempt to Bergeron, who had a wide-open net. Bernier made a miraculous behind the back save, on what looked to be an easy goal. The second one again came on a cross-ice pass to David Pastrnak, and this one did find the back of the net. However, the goal was immediately waved off for goaltender interference, when the pest that is Brad Marchand got too deep in the crease and bumped into Bernier. Boston’s new head coach Bruce Cassidy challenged the ruling of goaltender interference, but after reviewing the goal the referees announced that the call on the ice was confirmed and the game would remain tied at 1.
Anaheim’s dominant penalty kill again shut down the Bruins, but after giving up a few opportunities late in the penalty they were hemmed in when Bieksa rejoined the play. A tired penalty killing unit and Kevin Bieksa couldn’t get to the puck when it reached Zdeno Chara at the point. The 6’ 9” defenseman who has been clocked at 109 mph, let one rip from the point. Seas began to part and the puck went right past Bernier’s glove and into the net. Anaheim’s tired PK unit couldn’t clear the zone, and Chara’s goal put the Bruins up 2-1.
Less than a minute later the Ducks would get the quick response they needed. Rakell carried the puck into Boston’s zone and got the puck to Perry. Perry quickly got it back to Rakell who shot the puck 5-hole on Rask. Rask made the initial save, bad had no idea where the puck was. When he looked behind him to see where it was he unintentionally kicked the puck into the net. Anaheim wasn’t done in the period after Rakell’s goal. Ritchie and Kase were again causing chaos in the offensive zone when Kase got the puck to Ritchie behind the net. Ritchie moved the puck for a wraparound attempt but was denied by Rask’s pad. Josh Manson, up in the offensive zone, got the rebound and put it behind Rask to give the Ducks their first lead of the game. After taking a closer look at the play, it was fortunate for the Ducks that Boston used their challenge earlier in the game as the play appeared to be offside. However, Boston did lose their timeout and challenge earlier in the period, and the Ducks would maintain the 3-2 lead.
Bernier made some big saves that would ensure they would carry the lead into the intermission. The first one came on a cross-ice pass that he came up big on and was given a little help when Rakell cleared the puck away from the goal line and out of the zone. The second one came with a minute left when Bernier denied David Backes on what looked to be a sure thing. However, the Bruins couldn’t solve Bernier and the Ducks would carry the 3-2 lead into the intermission, tied at 18 with the Bruins in shots on goal.
Boston started the period off with 1:52 of power play time remaining on a penalty to Ryan Kesler. After some more big saves by Bernier, the Ducks killed off the Bruins penalty on fresh ice. However, Boston was making their push early in the period and had their Ducks on their heels. Hemmed into the D-zone, the Irvine native who was called up for his scoring touch made some big-league plays. Nic Kerdiles sacrificed his body multiple times to stop some great shots by the surging Bruins, allowing the Ducks to momentarily halt the assault.
Andrew Cogliano headed to the box 8 minutes into the period for the Ducks 5th penalty of the game. Again, the Ducks penalty killing unit was able to apply pressure to the powerful Bruins power play. Ryan Getzlaf was able to carry the puck into the Bruins zone only to have it taken away. He would reclaim the puck in the neutral zone, and find a wide-open Ryan Kesler for the breakaway pass. All alone Kesler put the shot on net but was denied by Rask. The Ducks killed off their 5th penalty of the game, allowing only 1 shot on goal while getting one for themselves.
Boston would bring the game to another tie with a little over eight minutes remaining in the game when David Krejci found Frank Vatrano with a long pass. Vatrano got to the puck behind Anaheim’s defense and was all alone for the breakaway. Josh Manson made a diving attempt to stop the shot but was too late. Vatrano put a quick puck on net, and Bernier couldn’t stop this one. His goal brought the game to a 3-3 tie.
With each team trying desperately to get the 2 points in the game, things started to get more physical from this point on. Cam Fowler flying through the zone like he normally does when Brad Marchand stepped up to make a big open ice hit. Fowler barely stepped aside to take away some of the power of the hit and got the puck to a teammate. Marchand’s intentions were clear in his attempt, though, and Josh Mason took note. Moments later Marchand had the puck in the neutral zone, and Manson was about to respond to Marchand’s previous attempt in a BIG way. The Boston winger was moving briefly with his head down when Josh Manson skated his way and put up a brick wall. Manson’s hit put Marchand on his back and brought the attention of some of his teammates. However, in the third period of a tie game, nobody was willing to go off for five.
With two and a half minutes to go in the game, Nic Kerdiles got to the puck in Boston’s zone. He passed it back to Kevin Bieksa, who fired it on net. In a mess of players, the puck rebounded to a wide-open Rickard Rakell who quickly fired it into the net. His second goal of the game and 24th of the season gave the Ducks a late 4-3 lead. For a moment, it appeared as though Kerdiles had gotten his first NHL point, but the shot from Bieksa bounced off Perry to Rakell and the California native will have to wait to get his first point.
With minutes to go the Bruins were trying to pull their goalie and tie the game. However, consistent offensive pressure by Anaheim delayed their opportunity to do so, and they were not able to get the extra attacker until there was 1:20 left on the clock. When they finally got the extra man, Andrew Cogliano got a pass from Kesler and skated it up ice. He made a move to pass a Boston defender and was all alone skating towards the goal. Boston’s David Krejci made the intentional hook on Cogliano with nobody between him and the net. Cogliano was awarded the empty net goal giving the Ducks a 5-3 lead. The remaining 45 seconds of the game were a matter of skating out the clock, and getting to the locker room. Anaheim would go on to win the game 5-3 but were outshot by the Bruins 29-25.
There were a couple of penalties in the game that were unnecessary and could have easily been avoided. Luckily for the Ducks, they have the league’s hottest penalty kill. However, come playoff time penalties and errors, like they took tonight, will sink their ship. Offensively, they looked to be clicking a little better, after having had some rest. Getzlaf, Ritchie, and Kase have a chemistry and ability to create scoring chances that seem to get better every time they touch the ice together. The ability to control the puck and make clean passes seems to be a big issue for all the lines, as many times passes are being attempted that aren’t getting through or there seems to be a better passing option. Defensively, their penalty kill and defensive talent rival any team in the league. However, if it weren’t for a couple saves by Bernier and some blown opportunities by Boston, their inability to stop cross ice passes could have cost them the game. All in all, I am sure Carlyle will be happy with a comeback win, and the response after Monday’s loss to the Coyotes. There is much to be improved upon, but it was a step in the right direction.
1. Rickard Rakell (2 goals)
2. Josh Manson (1 goal, 4 hits)
3. Ondrej Kase (1 goal, 1 assist)
The Ducks head to Los Angeles to face the Kings on Saturday, February 25th at 1 pm. Up 2-1 in the season series, the Ducks will look to win their final game of the season at Staples Center and clinch the series. After that, the team heads into a mandatory 5-day bye week. The ever-anticipated trade deadline will occur March 1st, during the bye week.
Click below to watch highlights of the Ducks big win!
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February 23rd, 2017