By Aaron Francis
The Ducks and Flames completed their home and home series in Anaheim where this time the Ducks played host. Honda Center hasn’t been favorable to the Flames as they have lost their last 24 straight regular season games in Anaheim. The Ducks were coming off a 4-3 win in Calgary and looked to take both games on home ice. John Gibson was in goal for the Ducks and Chad Johnson started for the Flames.
The Ducks came out to a slow start allowing Calgary to score first. Anaheim looked to be outpaced by the quick Calgary forwards. John Gibson was in the game early, having to make several strong saves. After playing just over five minutes Chad Johnson left the game and was replaced by Brian Elliott. The Ducks would misplay the puck and allow Johnny Gaudreau to get a breakaway that was gloved aside by Gibson. The Flames and Ducks each had one Power Play opportunity but neither side could convert. Late in the period, however, the Flames had a strong shift in the Ducks zone and a point shot from Mark Giordano was saved by Gibson but the rebounded to Mikael Backlund who got Calgary on the board, 1-0 Flames. Shots at the end of the first were 11-3 Calgary.
This period the Ducks came out much stronger and were able to leave the ice with a lead. The Ducks came out swinging firing several shots at Elliott. Ryan Getzlaf won an offensive draw and the puck found its way to Patrick Eaves who beat the unsuspecting Elliott, 1-1 tie. The Ducks would be called for too many men on the ice forcing them to defend. Gibson came up with a few great saves before Rickard Rakell was released from the penalty box. The Ducks would take their first lead of the game as Antoine Vermette entered the Flames zone and passed the puck to Kevin Bieksa who took a hard slap shot at the net, 2-1 Ducks. The Flames challenged the goal for being offside but the call stood as a good goal. Shots at the end of the second were 20-12 Calgary.
The Ducks would manage to add to their lead and take the victory, not without conflict, however. The Ducks would take a devastating blow as Cam Fowler collided with Mark Giordano after taking a shot at the Calgary net. Contact appeared to be with the knee and Fowler did not return to the game. This set in motion an intense finish to the game as tempers flared high. Not long after this incident Logan Shaw fed the puck to Chris Wagner who added to lead, 3-1 Ducks. the next shift however did not last long as Josh Manson taking exception to the hit on Fowler squared up with Mark Giordano. The two slid and stumbled before Manson laid a devastating uppercut on the Flames Captain, everyone paired up. The remaining thirteen minutes were filled with fights and penalties totaling in 76 penalty minutes for Calgary, and 36 penalty minutes for Anaheim. Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, Matt Bartkowski, Deryk Engelland, Micheal Ferland, and Ryan Kesler all received misconducts. Even at the horn there were players mixing it up with each other. Shots at the end of regulation were 27-20 Calgary.
The Ducks played a strong two games against the Flames pulling out all points possible. The games were physical and tolling on the Ducks defense, who now may be without the services of Cam Fowler. It was an interesting preview of what could be a First Round Playoff match-up. The bad blood between these two teams only grew stronger after this game. It is certain this isn’t the last we hear of this Ducks vs Flames rivalry that emerged from the 2015 Western Conference Semi-Finals.
The Ducks will need everyone playing their best hockey of the year especially the defense. Depending on how long Lindholm, Vatanen, and Fowler stay out of the lineup we could see Shea Theodore stay with Anaheim as well as reinserting Clayton Stoner into the mix.
Antoine Vermette has 5 points in his last 5 games.
The Calgary Flames have now dropped their last 25 regular season games in Anaheim.
The Ducks maintained their Pacific Division lead with 101 points.
The Ducks will continue their final homestead of the season hosting the Western Conference leading Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday at 7 pm PST.
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