By: Matthew Garcia
Today the Anaheim Ducks (25-17-10) were in Quebec for a matinée match-up against the Montreal Canadiens. (20-25-6) Anaheim is coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators just two days ago and would be looking to get back into the win column against a Montreal team that has lost their previous three games. With John Gibson still out due to a lower-body injury (day-to-day) Ryan Miller would get his second consecutive start for the Ducks, and Antti Niemi would get the start for the Canadiens.
Anaheim would come out of the gates flying as they would register the game’s first six shots on goal, but it would be Montreal finding the back of the net first as former Duck Logan Shaw would crash to the front of the Anaheim net finding a loose puck and sliding it under the five-hole of Miller giving the Habs a 1-0 lead just 6:10 into the game. Montreal would also be the recipient of the very first power play of the game as Kevin Bieksa would be sent to the box on a hooking infraction. The Ducks who surrendered two power play goals in the loss to Ottawa would come close to killing off the penalty but with just over 10 seconds left on the man advantage Joe Morrow would fire a rocket from the point that would find its way over the shoulder of Miller giving Montreal a 2-0 lead. Things would get worse for Anaheim as no more than two minutes later David Schlemko would fire a wrist shot past the blocker of Miller making it 3-0 Habs just over 10 minutes into the game. Randy Carlyle would make a goaltending change as Miller would be pulled after giving up three goals on seven shots, coming into the game would be Reto Berra who last saw NHL action back on November 20th, 2017 in a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks in which he registered 40 saves on 42 shots.
An early penalty in the second period would send Anaheim short-handed for the third time this game as a sloppy line change would see them serve a bench minor for too many men on the ice. Montreal would pounce on the opportunity as Jeff Petry would just barely get a shot off of the heel of his stick that would trickle underneath a sprawling Berra and into the back of the net to give the Habs a 4-0 lead just 3:45 into the middle frame. Now it would be the Habs’ turn for a bad line change that would see them get whistled down for too many men on the ice giving Anaheim their second power play chance of the afternoon, and the chance would only grow for the Ducks to get on the scoreboard as Max Pacioretty would be sent to the box on a hooking call giving the Ducks a five-on-three man advantage for 21 seconds. The Ducks would not let it go to waste as a face-off win by the captain would get it rolling as Rickard Rakell would find Corey Perry alone in front of the net and would fire a pass that Perry would tip-in making it 4-1. Just over three minutes later Josh Manson would send a home-run pass to Nick Ritchie who would be in on a partial breakaway that would get stopped by Niemi but followed up on by Rakell who would fire it into an open net making it 4-2 just over the halfway point of the game.
The third period would see the Ducks get several opportunities against Niemi, but carelessness throughout the final frame of play would see Anaheim go short-handed three separate times as Antoine Vermette would be sent to the box early in the third on an interference call, but the Ducks would be able to successfully kill off the penalty leaving the window of opportunity open. However, a late hooking penalty by Hampus Lindholm would see the Ducks lose that chance as Petry would fire home a wrist shot giving the Habs a 5-2 lead on the power play sealing the deal for Montreal. Tempers would flare late in the third and that would see Perry get a 10-minute misconduct, while Ryan Getzlaf would sit in the box for two minutes off a tripping call. All this coming at the 19:16 mark of the period. The final horn would sound and the Ducks would drop to 1-1-1 on this current five-game road trip.
The Anaheim Ducks would once again be plagued by penalties in this game and it would prove costly as they would give up three power play goals on seven opportunities. That would not be the only factor in this outcome though as Niemi would play a huge role in this 5-2 decision as he turned away 43-of-45 shots that were thrown his direction. The Ducks had a shoot first mentality all throughout the game as they attempted upwards of 90 total shots.
The Ducks will look to bounce back Monday as they continue this road swing with a stop in Toronto for a tilt with Frederick Andersen and the Maple Leafs who have been on a tear recently winning their last four games while outscoring the opponent(s) 16-3. The game against Toronto will mark the front-end of back-to-back games as they will take on the Maple Leafs Monday, and the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday. Stay tuned for an update on Gibson as we will see if he is available for either of the remaining two games on this current road trip.
Anaheim Ducks (25-18-10) AT Toronto Maple Leafs (30-18-5) @ 4PM PT
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February 3rd, 2018