By Aaron Francis
The Ducks and Sabers met at Honda Center to close out their season series. Anaheim won the previous meeting in Buffalo and were on a two-game winning streak heading into the match. Jonathan Bernier got the call for the Ducks and Anders Nilsson was in goal for the Sabers.
The Ducks got the first goal of the game and were able to maintain this lead through the opening frame. Early on in the period, Jonathan Bernier made a fantastic save on Jack Eichel down low cutting down the angle to prevent a dangerous scoring opportunity. The Ducks got on the scoreboard after a shot from the point by Cam Fowler was stopped by Nilsson but rebounded to the open Rickard Rakell who potted the goal, 1-0 Ducks. Buffalo would respond with several good chances in the offensive zone, but Bernier had the answer. Shots at the end of the period were 9-8 Anaheim.
The Sabers managed to pressure the Ducks this period, scoring a goal and tying the game up. The Ducks had all the momentum early in the period as Andrew Cogliano just missed off a turnover and Josh Manson out waited Anders Nilsson only to have his chance cleared away by the Sabers defense. An unfortunate shot late in the period went off the skate of Ryan O’Reilly and in past Jonathan Bernier to get Buffalo on the board, 1-1 tie. Shots at the end of the Second were 26-15 Anaheim
Things would not change on the scoreboard this period and would eventually lead to overtime. Anders Nilsson made a huge stop early coming across to stop a cross-ice feed and keeping the game tied. Nick Ritchie dropped the gloves with Zach Bogosian and the two each went off, 5 minutes for fighting. The Ducks continued this pressure on Nilsson with a breakaway for Ryan Getzlaf and a great shot from Corey Perry but both were saved. Late in the period Bernier would stone Evander Kane’s chance in the slot with a strong glove save. Shots at the end of regulation were 37-30 Anaheim
The score would remain the same as neither team found the back of the net in overtime. The Ducks had several chances in the overtime period starting with a shot by Jakob Silfverberg that was just deflected away by Nilsson. The Ducks would spring Corey Perry for a chance catching the Sabers on a line change, but yet again Nilsson had the answer. Final shot total at the end of overtime was 40-31 Anaheim.
The Ducks and Sabers went back and forth in a 10 round shootout. Ryan Getzlaf got on the board for the Ducks but would be matched by a goal from Ryan O’Reilly. The Ducks rookie Brandon Montour took the lead in the shootout for Anaheim but Rasmus Ristolainen scored a highlight reel goal on Bernier to keep the shootout going. The eventual game-winner came off the stick of Zemgus Girgensons who scored to give the Sabers the victory.
The Ducks came out to a strong pace in the opening frame but were unable to take advantage of the tired Sabers. At times they seemed poised to take the lead in the third period but were unable to find the back of the net. Missed chances would come back to haunt them as they couldn’t solve Nilsson and fell in the shootout.
There are many positive to take away from this game including the continued scoring from Rakell, but at the same time it feels like the Ducks deserved a better fate than losing in the shootout. They came up against a strong goalie performance from Anders Nilsson and need to look past this game and towards their next outing as they play the back end of back-to-back games next.
Rickard Rakell scored his team leading 31st goal of the season.
The Ducks are now 3-3 in shootouts this season.
Jonathan Bernier finished the game with a .968 save percentage.
The Ducks will make a short trip up north to face the division rival San Jose Sharks tonight at 7:30 pm PST.
Click below for highlights of last night’s game!
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March 18th, 2017