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The Anaheim Ducks’ six-game winning streak came to an end last night, falling 2-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Despite Anaheim putting together a decent first half of the opening period, the Penguins managed to strike first, as Radim Zohorna banked a puck in off John Gibson to give Pittsburgh a lead. The Ducks did outshoot the Penguins 13-8 and had a bit of momentum, but just trailed after one on a bounce for Pittsburgh.
The Penguins did come out stronger in the second frame though, and Gibson had to be very good to keep the game within reach. Pittsburgh nearly extended the lead with a 2-on-1 midway through the period, as ex-Duck Rickard Rakell put a great pass over to Evgeni Malkin for a one-timer, but Gibson got over to make a great save.
Then on a Pittsburgh power play a little later, Gibson had to make another big sliding save on Rakell himself, to keep it a one-goal game.
Anaheim did have a great chance to tie the game late in the frame on a power play, but Adam Henrique couldn’t beat Tristan Jarry, who then left the game after Henrique made contact with his head at the edge of the crease, as the Ducks remained down 1-0 through 40 minutes, with Gibson making 17 saves in the period.
The Ducks did press to tie it in the third period, with the fourth line getting a good opportunity, before Troy Terry hit the crossbar on a rush. Anaheim had a lot of momentum in the third period, getting some great chances to get on the board, but Magnus Hellberg was great for Pittsburgh in relief. While an open net goal for the Penguins was called back in the final minute of play, Sidney Crosby did end up extending the lead to 2-0 on another empty netter shortly after, as Anaheim’s winning streak came to an end.
It wasn’t an overly bad game for the Ducks, but they did heavily lean on Gibson at points to keep them in the game. Especially in the second period, if it weren’t for Gibson, Anaheim would’ve been out of the game by the second intermission.
It also goes to show that while Anaheim’s recent ability to battle back from behind has been both entertaining and impressive, an early lead matters. The Ducks relied on a good third period to come alive and try to battle back again, but this time, they just couldn’t get the job done.
That said, while Gibson had to be good, the Ducks had their chances as well. While the top line may have been a little quieter than you’d like to see, Anaheim threw 31 shots on goal and did run into some good goaltending themselves.
Trevor Zegras’ slow start does continue to be a story though, unfortunately. While there’s talk about Zegras rounding out his game to be more impactful defensively, ultimately, he’s still a high-end offensive winger with just two points in 12 games. In times like last night’s game where the Ducks can’t score, Zegras should be one of the players helping to make a difference.
Regardless, it was a great six-game run for the Ducks, establishing that they’re a hugely improved team from what we saw last season. They remain in a good spot in the Pacific Divison with a 7-5-0 record, and will be back in action on Friday, as they continue their homestand against the Philadelphia Flyers.
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