By Michael Walters
The Anaheim Ducks opened the second round of the playoffs at home against the Edmonton Oilers. John Gibson went in net for Anaheim and Cam Talbot went for the Oilers. Cam Fowler returned since being injured by Mark Giordano back on April 4th.
In the opening frame, the teams battled it out creating chances at each end of the ice. Each team had power play opportunities, but neither could cash in. The Ducks did get a late power play at the very end of the period that would carry over to the next period. The shots were 10-9 in favor of Anaheim.
The Ducks were able to strike first in this game. They started the second period on the power play and Ryan Getzlaf burned Talbot over the shoulder to give Anaheim the 1-0 lead. A few minutes later, the Oilers found themselves on a 5-on-3 power play after a questionable penalty called on Nick Ritchie and a high sticking call on Hampus Lindholm. During the power play, Getzlaf lost his stick and the Oilers we able to tie the game on a goal Mark Letestu. Later in the period, Anton Selpyshev collided into John Gibson and was called for goalie interference. The Ducks couldn’t convert on the power play and the teams ended the period tied at one.
In the beginning of this period, the Oilers started to breakaway with two goals. Mark Letestu scored on the power play again and then Adam Larsson scored in just under two minutes after that. The Ducks did battle back getting two goals, one by Patrick Eaves and another by Jakob Silfverberg in a span of about a minute and a half. The Ducks had the momentum, but Larsson would score his second of the game as he threw the puck from a bad angle at the side of the Anaheim goal, bouncing off Josh Manson‘s skate and in. The Ducks pulled Gibson for the extra attacker, but Edmonton scored once more and would win 5-3.
The Ducks played well overall in this game, as no signs of rust seemed to hold the team back. The Ducks looked to be down and out after giving up two quick goals to start the third period, but they were able to rally quickly with two strikes of their own. This game was evenly matched and probably would have gone to overtime if not for the lucky bounce off Manson’s skate, which provided to be the game-winner for the Oilers.
The Ducks do need to work on their discipline and penalty killing unit. It’s difficult playing against one the league’s favorites, but the Ducks need to stay out of the penalty box, especially if they can’t kill off the penalties. The Oilers had five power play chances and were able to convert twice. Sure there were some questionable calls, but the Ducks can only control their own play. If they can stay out of the box as much as possible and/or play better short-handed, then the Ducks should be able to prevail in Game 2. The Ducks beat themselves in Game 1 defensively, but also could have still won if not for a few unfortunate bounces. Anaheim hit the post/crossbar a few times in this contest and if just one of those would have gone in, then they might be up 1-0 in this series instead.
Kevin Bieksa sustained a lower body injury in last night’s loss. It sounds like he will be doubtful for Game 2, but will have a full assessment tomorrow per Randy Carlyle.
This was the first regulation loss for Anaheim going back to March 10th against St. Louis.
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April 27th, 2017