By Aaron Francis
The Anaheim Ducks flew in to Arizona Monday to take on the Coyotes. With much uncertainty surrounding the lineup and the recent roster moves, Ducks fans had a great surprise over the weekend as highly anticipated prospect Trevor Zegras was called up. It was announced he would make his NHL debut against the Coyotes. Darcy Kuemper started in goal for Arizona and John Gibson was between the pipes for Anaheim
With fans in attendance including his family, Trevor Zegras skated to center ice for the opening faceoff. He didn’t have to wait long to hit the ice as he was placed on the wing with Sam Steel and Jakob Silfverberg for the opening draw. The Ducks came out with a fire under them and drove the play most of the period after giving up the first shot.
Darcy Kuemper was caught out of the net and Troy Terry couldn’t get the shot towards the empty net as his stick was tied up. But the Ducks stayed with the play and as Oliver Ekman-Larsson tried to move the puck out of the zone it was striped away by Jakob Silfverberg who fired the puck past Kuemper, 1-0 Anaheim.
Rickard Rakell was called for interference and on the Arizona power play John Gibson made a great save on Derick Brassard who hammered a slap-shot on the breakaway. Behind the net Silfverberg was able to get the puck out to Zegras who fired a shot off Darcy Kuemper.
Arizona was called for delay of game and early in the Ducks power play Niklas Hjalmarsson tripped Silfverberg leading to a 5-on-3 power play for Anaheim. Trevor Zegras made a great cross-ice pass to Rakell who one-timed the puck forcing Kuemper to make the stop. Eventually a shot from the right circle by Maxime Comtois beat Kuemper and Max Jones shoveled the puck over the line to score on the power play, 2-0 Anaheim.
Max Jones immediately went to Oliver Ekman-Larsson who cross-checked him earlier on the play leading to a scuffle as Darcy Kuemper got between them. After a long delay to sort out the calls, Kuemper was given an extra penalty so Anaheim went back to the 5-on-3. The Ducks failed to score with the extra man advantage as the physical play in the game continued to mount. First Max Jones got tangled up with Barrett Hayton and each were sent off for fighting.
Then Derek Grant and Lawson Crouse dropped the gloves late in the period and were also sent off to the box. The Ducks were given a power play as a result of the play and would carry a majority of the man advantage to the next period. Shots were 16-8 Anaheim at the end of the period.
The Ducks were not able to protect their lead in the middle period and found themselves tied. On the carryover power play Ryan Getzlaf fed the puck to Cam Fowler at the point who scored to extend the lead, 3-0 Anaheim. Isac Lundestrom was called for elbowing Alex Goligoski and was given a major penalty that was reviewed and lowered to a regular minor. Nick Schmaltz had a chance go off the post and Phil Kessel had his shot gloved down by John Gibson.
Arizona was called for too many men and while shorthanded Christian Dvorak got a breakaway chance for Arizona and was awarded a penalty shot. On the penalty shot Dvorak faked a move to the forehand and got Gibson to go down early as he roofed the puck, 3-1 Anaheim. This would mark a hard shift in the game as Arizona began to take control of the play.
Derek Grant turned the puck over in the corner and the puck was fed out by the Coyotes to Derick Brassard who got his shot past Gibson, 3-2 Anaheim. On another defensive break by the Ducks, Jakob Chychrun was able to receive an aerial pass and got behind the defense crashing into Gibson and scoring. There was a review on the play as the net came off and it was deemed a good goal, 3-3 tie. The Ducks would be called for a penalty that they successfully killed off and were unable to get their game going again. The young Trevor Zegras was kept off the ice most the period as the game became more physical. Shots were 13-6 Arizona.
The Coyotes would end up completing their comeback and holding on for the win. Trevor Zegras was out to start the period for Anaheim after seeing his ice time cut in the second. Clayton Keller drew another call in the game as Troy Terry went off for hooking. On the Coyotes power play Jakob Chychrun took a shot from the point that was deflected by Christian Dvorak for his second goal of the game, 4-3 Arizona. With the Coyotes leading for the first time in the game they kept pouring on the pressure, keeping the Ducks from establishing any offensive zone time.
As time began to run down Anaheim picked up the play a bit and Trevor Zegras had a fantastic opportunity in the slot that Darcy Kuemper was able to get a piece of. John Gibson would head to the bench with less then two minutes in the period and the Coyotes almost scored on the empty net. The Ducks were able to enter the zone and posses the puck. With time running out Troy Terry took a shot that was saved by Kuemper. Anaheim tried to collect the rebound and make a shot towards the goal but the horn sounds. Shots were 6-4 Anaheim in the period for a game total of 28-25 Anaheim
This was a game indicative of the issue in Anaheim this season. While they were able to get out to a strong start, the Ducks lack structure in many ways and are unable to keep teams from establishing themselves in the game. They rely often on the stellar goaltending of John Gibson and when he is having a less than stellar game there is no solution. Offense has been the biggest struggle for the Ducks and while they were able to score against Arizona they lacked the complete game needed to hold onto the lead.
There are a few caveats to the loss however as the Ducks are without two key defensemen Josh Manson and Hampus Lindholm. Additionally there was some controversy on the Jakob Chychrun goal was kicked it or if their was goalie interference. But there still remains a core issue with this roster that won’t be solved by adding Zegras or waiving Adam Henrique. This is a shortened season and we are quickly approaching the halfway mark. There are some serious changes that this Ducks team needs and GM Bob Murray will have a lot to think on as the trade deadline gets closer.
Trevor Zegras was a +1 and played 13:14 in his NHL Debut.
Maxime Comtois had 2 assists and leads the team with 11 points.
Josh Manson is with the team on the road trip and may be close to joining the lineup.
The Ducks take on the Coyotes again on Wednesday at 6 PM PT.
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February 23rd, 2021