Follow me on Twitter: @Hockey_Comps
Follow HockeyBuzz Ducks on Twitter: @HB_Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks split their back-to-back set over the past two days, battling back to defeat the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, before falling the Colorado Avalanche last night.
3-2 WIN OVER PREDATORS
Against Nashville in the first game of the set, Anaheim was outshot 11-5 in the opening frame and while they did escape the period scoreless, things went downhill from there for a bit. The Predators started the second period on a power play, but just as it expired, Filip Forsberg managed to bat a puck in from the front of the net, to open the scoring for Nashville. Anaheim did have a couple good opportunities to tie it fairly soon after, with Max Jones getting a chance in front, but couldn’t capitalize.
Then after a heavyweight fight between Jeremy Lauzon and Radko Gudas, the Predators ended up on power play, where Roman Josi beat Gibson with a huge slapshot, to extend the lead to 2-0.
However, just after another fight later in the frame between Ross Johnston and Michael McCarron, Frank Vatrano put a good pass over to Cam Fowler, whose shot went off a defender and in, pulling the Ducks back to within one through 40 minutes.
Then only four minutes into the third period, Radko Gudas took a pass from Troy Terry in the slot and beat Juuse Saros, tying the game. The Predators ended up with another power play later and while both Radko Gudas and John Gibson took hard shots that seemed to hurt them, both remained in the game. Then only a little later, Gudas ended up assisting on a go-ahead goal for the Ducks, where Adam Henrique tipped in a Urho Vaakanainen shot from the point, to put Anaheim ahead for the first time with under four minutes to go.
After drawing a penalty which killed much of the remaining time, then Gibson making several key saves in the final 10 seconds, the Ducks managed to hang on, taking the 3-2 battle-back win.
8-2 LOSS TO AVALANCHE
The second half of the set did not go quite as well, though. The Ducks found themselves allowing the first goal of the game once again, when Samuel Girard got the Avalanche on the board, after Anaheim was outshot by a brutal margin to start the game. Then a little later, Valeri Nichushkin tipped in a shot in-close to extend the lead, and while Sam Carrick did get the Ducks on the board late in the period, Anaheim still trailed 2-1 after a pretty rough 20 minutes.
Colorado then reinstated the two-goal lead in the second period off a shot from Fredrik Olofssson, before completely blowing open the game in the third frame. First, Ross Colton scored about four minutes into the third period on a partial breakaway, before Valeri Nichushkin tipped in his second goal of the game on a power play minutes later. While Max Jones scored his first goal of the season later on, Colorado iced it shortly after, with three more goals in a span of just two minutes, on route to a dominant 8-2 win.
Starting with the positives, once again, the Ducks battled back from a third period deficit in the win over Nashville. Again, it’s not an ideal way to play, and it would be great if Anaheim was instead able to take an early lead, but all the battle-back wins make for a hugely entertaining start to the year, and do illustrate the group’s resilience.
John Gibson also played great once again, in the midst of what could be a resurgence. Through nine games, Gibson is holding a .927 save percentage.
Against Colorado though, it was a reminder that while the Ducks are improving, they’ve still got a ways to go. Facing tough competition, Anaheim was picked apart at times, leading to tons of great chances both off the rush, and with players being left alone around the Ducks’ end.
While Lukas Dostal wasn’t great, he can’t be faulted for the majority of the goals allowed and even a better performance wouldn’t have set the Ducks up to win. Anaheim had a really slow opening frame, and went on to be outshot 38-17 overall, so there wasn’t much goaltending could do.
While Leo Carlsson was arguably missed in the game against Nashville, the first line really struggled against Colorado, with the line being outshot 8-1 at 5-on-5, according to NaturalStatTrick.com. The power play also went 0-for-7 across the games.
Brock McGinn also made his season debut against the Avalanche, playing on a new-look fourth line with Sam Carrick and Bo Groulx. The line actually worked out pretty well despite what was going on around them in the loss, and it’ll be interesting to see how the team structures the bottom-six with McGinn now available. He’s a versatile, high-intensity forward who can add a bit of scoring, and he should be a good fit with the group.
Regardless, despite coming off a blowout loss, I don’t think going 1-for-2 on a road back-to-back is a poor result. The loss to Colorado is one to shake off, but Anaheim’s win over Nashville keeps them in a decent position.
They’ll now return home for another four-game homestand, beginning tomorrow against the Florida Panthers.
OTHER ARTICLES FROM NOVEMBER
- Ducks carrying momentum after perfect road trip, have opportunity in West
- Ducks win fifth straight with overtime victory against Coyotes
- Ducks hand Vegas their first regulation loss, win streak now at six games
- Ducks’ six-game winning streak ends in shutout loss to Penguins
- The Anaheim Ducks have entered a new era
- Ducks rebound to end homestand on positive note with win over Sharks