By: Matthew Garcia
The Anaheim Ducks (25-18-10) would be ending their Canadian road swing tonight with a tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs. (30-19-5) Anaheim, who has now dropped their last two games in Canada beginning with a OT loss to the Ottawa Senators back on February 1st, and then a disappointing 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens just two days ago would be looking to get back into the win column against a very young, very talented Maple Leafs team. In net tonight would be Ryan Miller for the Ducks and Frederick Andersen for the Maple Leafs.
To start the game Randy Carlyle would match his shut-down line of Ryan Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg, and Andrew Cogliano against the ever so dangerous Auston Matthews line. The Ducks would storm the castle early as they would register the first four shots on goal of the game, but it would be the young start Matthews getting the goal scoring started as he would blow past defenseman Kevin Bieksa, give Miller a head fake forcing him to go down to cover the near side post, but Matthews would go behind the net and stuff it in on the wrap-around to give Toronto a 1-0 lead just 6:32 into the game. Anaheim would get a chance to draw even early as Nikita Zaitsev would get a hooking penalty levied against him. Despite putting four shots on net during the power play the Ducks would be unable to get one past Andersen. The teams would trade power plays in the last few minutes of the period, each of them unsuccessful. Toronto would drop to 0/1 on the power play and Anaheim 0/2. The first period horn would sound and the Maple Leafs would take a 1-0 lead into the locker room.
It would not take long for the action to get going in the middle frame as Ryan Getzlaf would slam home a pass from Rickard Rakell past the leg pad of Andersen to knot the game up at one just 43 seconds into the period. Toronto would respond just over five minutes later as William Nylander would take advantage of a Ducks turnover in the defensive zone, and snap it past Miller to give the Leafs a 2-1 lead. The lead for Toronto would be short-lived as Corey Perry, Getzlaf, and Rakell would play tic-tac-toe before Rakell potted a backhand shot past a sprawled out Andersen to even the game up at two less than 3 minutes after Toronto took the lead. The Ducks chances would only grow from there as they would get their third power play of the evening as Leo Komarov would be sent to the box on a hi-sticking penalty, and this time it would be Ondrej Kase putting the Ducks on the scoreboard as he would find a loose puck in front of the net and shovel it up over Andersen giving the Ducks their first lead of the game 3-2. A marginal slashing call against Nick Ritchie would see the Leafs get their second power play of the game and this one would prove costly as Mitch Marner would rip a snapshot into the top corner over the glove hand of Miller to tie the game at three. Just over two minutes later Komarov would take a puck off the skate of Nazem Kadri and just throw it at the net that would find its way past Miller giving the Leafs a 4-3 lead with just over two minutes to play in the period. Second period horn would sound and the Maple Leafs would once again take a one-goal lead into the locker room.
A late penalty by Cam Fowler in the second period would see the Ducks begin the period short-handed for 1:25. The Ducks would successfully kill off the penalty, and shortly after the penalty would expire the Ducks would tie the game as Rakell would take a shot from a severe angle on Curtis McElhinney that would go off of the rib protector of the goaltender and into the back of the net tying the game up at four just 2:07 into the final period of play. The tie would not last very long as Jake Gardiner would find Nylander flying the zone and would deliver a home-run pass sending him in on a breakaway and he would fire a shot past the glove of Miller giving the Leafs a 5-4 lead just over a minute after the Ducks had tied the game. The going would only get worse for Anaheim as the speed of Toronto would take over late in the game as Kasperi Kapanen would fly into the attacking zone before sending a pass over to Matthews who would receive a pass off his skates before tapping the puck over the goal line and into the back of the net for a 6-4 lead with just over three minutes to play in the game. The Ducks, trailing by two would pull Miller for an extra attacker with over two minutes to play and it would be Zach Hyman potting one into the empty net sealing the deal for Toronto.
After tonight’s hard-fought loss to the Maple Leafs, the Ducks would jump on a plane and head to Buffalo to finish up their five-game road trip with a tilt against the Sabres tomorrow night. If the Ducks are wanting to end this road trip on a positive note they will need to limit the turnovers in the defensive zone, and limit the odd man rushes. After tomorrow’s game against Buffalo, the Ducks will return back home to the friendly confines of Honda Center and play host to Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night.
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February 5th, 2018