By: Matthew Garcia
Last night the Anaheim Ducks (25-18-10) were finally back in the states to finish off a five-game road trip against the hometown Buffalo Sabres. (14-28-10) After a very disappointing three-game jaunt north of the border that saw the Ducks go 0-2-1, they would be looking to finish off the road trip with a win. For the contest against the Sabres, the Ducks would turn back to Ryan Miller as he would get his second consecutive start, and a chance to redeem himself. Meanwhile, Robin Lehner would be in net for the Sabres looking to help his team snap a three-game home losing streak.
The Ducks would be looking to strike early in the game as they would be awarded a power play just 2:23 into the opening period as Rasmus Ristolainen would take a seat in the penalty box after being whistled down for interference. However, the tides would turn in the opposite direction for Anaheim as Zemgus Girgensons would race up the ice, fire a shot at Miller and would then proceed to bank the rebound off of the back of Miller and into the back of the net to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead off a short-handed goal just 3:22 into the game. The Ducks and Sabres would trade power play chances late in the period but would be unsuccessful in their chances. With just over a minute to play in the opening period, Kyle Okposo would be sent to the box on a slashing call right off a defensive zone face-off. The Ducks would not be able to convert in the 1:18 of power play time they had to end the period and would carry over 42 seconds of power play time into the second period.
With the Ducks set to begin the period with 42 seconds on the power play, they would look to strike early and Rickard Rakell would do just that as he would fire a shot that would ring off the post, off of the leg of Lehner and into the back of the net to tie the game up at one on the man advantage just 21 seconds into the middle frame. The Ducks would just pour it on for a majority of the period as they would heavily outshoot and out-possess the Sabres, the only thing that slowed the momentum was a late penalty by J.T. Brown who would be sent to the penalty box on a slashing call giving the Sabres their second power play of the night. Buffalo wasted no time as they would win the offensive zone draw and would have a 2-1 directly in front of Miller and Sam Reinhart would saucer a pass over to Jack Eichel who would slam home a power play goal just eight seconds into the man advantage giving the Sabres a 2-1 lead with 2:42 remaining in the period. The Ducks would be quick to respond as Ondrej Kase would backhand a loose puck in between the legs of Lehner and into the net to tie the game up at two with just 38 seconds left in the middle frame.
Third period action would pick up late in the final frame as the Ducks would get the go-ahead goal at the 11:30 mark of the period as Corey Perry would get credit for the goal, but it would be Ryan O’Reilly would inadvertently put the puck into his own net as he would just try clearing the puck behind the net, but would, unfortunately, ramp up the stick of Lehner and into the top corner giving the Ducks a 3-2 lead. O’Reilly would make up for his mishap late in the period as he would take a pass from Eichel off a face-off win and fire a rocket into the back of the net tying the game up at three with just 15 seconds left to play in regulation. The third period horn would sound and bonus hockey would be incoming as we would finish the period in a 3-3 tie.
The Buffalo Sabres would get the first good look in overtime as Evander Kane would accept a pass from O’Reilly but would fire the shot wide of the net. From here it would be all Anaheim and wouldn’t take them long to capitalize on their possession time as Adam Henrique would accept a pass from Kase and rifle the puck over the blocker of Lehner and into the back of the net for the game winning goal just 1:36 into the extra frame.
Final Score: Anaheim-4 Buffalo-3
The Ducks would finish out the road trip strong and would head back to California after going .500 on the road trip (2-2-1) with wins coming against the Boston Bruins, and the Buffalo Sabres. The Ducks will have a few days to get ready for their next game as they won’t play again until Friday when they play host to the Edmonton Oilers. The Ducks have squared off against the Oilers just once this season and that was back on January fourth in which they fell to Edmonton 2-1 in the shootout, the meeting on Friday will mark the second of four meetings this season between the two teams. The Ducks will conclude a brief two game home-stand against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday the 11th. This season the Ducks have gone 1-1-1 against San Jose, but this time the Sharks will have to take on Anaheim without their number one center in Joe Thornton as he is out indefinitely after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right MCL. The meeting Sunday will mark the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between the two teams and could have major playoff implications to it so stay tuned as we get ready for that game!
Edmonton Oilers (23-24-4) AT Anaheim Ducks (26-19-10) Friday, February 9th @ 7PM PT
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February 7th, 2018