Anaheim Ducks get quick start, blow by Canadiens 6-2

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

152. 6. 105. Final. 2

Before the Anaheim Ducks went on their first extended road trip of the year, they desperately needed to have a good start.  They had been searching for it for the first six games. The finally got it in their seventh. 

Focus. Energy. Aggression. Forechecking. Traffic in front of the goaltender.

The Anaheim Ducks excelled in all elements of the game in the first, holding the play in the Canadiens’ defensive zone for the majority of the period. It paid off. The Ducks got on the board quickly from Dennis Rasmussen’s tip-in of a Jaycob Megna wrist shot which just slipped past Carey Price’s left shoulder and into the top of the net.

A tripping call on the Canadiens’ Alex Galchenyuk a few minutes later would lead to the Ducks finally getting their long awaited power play goal.  The Ducks won the ensuing faceoff, and a Francois Beacuhemin shot glanced off Price’s pad.

A juicy rebound popped out in front. Center Derek Grant, who had not scored a goal in his NHL career, fought Jeff Petry for positioning out in front and quickly swept it home past Price. Ducks 2-0.

The Ducks continued their relentless attack and everyone got in on the forecheck. It would eventually pay dividends as a Canadiens’ turnover led to winger Chris Wagner gaining control of the puck. Wagner fed Center Antoine Vermette for a one-timer in the high slot, beating Price after the puck ricochet through multiple skates.

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The Ducks had gotten the start they were looking for. 3-0 after the first. They were by far the better team in the 1st period, outshooting the Canadiens 21-7. Their depth was starting to contribute to their early success.

If the first period was how the Ducks wanted to play, the second was the complete opposite. The Ducks took their foot of the gas and became careless and undisciplined. They started taking slashing and hooking penalties, failing to clear to their defensive zone cleanly.

The Canadiens received numerous low slot scoring chances, evident by their 30 (yes, 30) shots on Ducks’ goaltender John Gibson during the period.

The Canadiens eventually cashed in. Canadiens’ defender Karl Alzner slapped a pass that bounced off the endboard to winger Paul Byron who deposited it past Gibson. Toward the end of the period, a Francois Beauchemin hooking penalty led to a Canadiens power play goal. After defensemen Victor Mete wristed a puck that popped in and out of Gibson’s glove, Brendan Gallagher swatted the puck in out of mid-air.

The Ducks found themselves only up 1 after two frames, leaving fans to wonder if they would be able to deliver against a struggling Canadiens team. But the Ducks depth stepped up.

They would score 3 times within a span of 1 minute, 37 seconds. With the Ducks in the offensive zone, right wing Jakob Silfverberg passed to Kevin Bieksa for a one-timer. His stick broke, but he got enough on it to get the puck to Brandon Montour who one-timed the puck himself above Price’s right shoulder.

Moments later, Ducks’ winger Ondrej Kase fed Grant in front of the net with a wicked wrap around past his defender. Grant tapped it in past a befuddled Price. On the ensuing shift, Ducks winger Corey Perry drove the right side of the ice and one-handed a pass through traffic to Chris Wagner for a one-timer.

The puck would deflect off Canadiens d-man Shea Weber’s skate and through Price.

What this victory means for the Ducks

The Ducks needed this one. But most importantly, they needed their depth to show up amidst all the injuries hampering this team. In a game where the Ducks’ 1st line of Andrew Cogliano, Rickard Rakell, and Silfverberg had a quiet night (one assist), the Ducks 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lines (along with Gibson’s stellar goaltending) carried the team.

It showed that their depth is very capable of outworking and outplaying an opponent. Despite not being at full strength, they are not marginal. They do have the aggression, will, and creativity to frustrate and dominate.

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Hopefully the Ducks can apply that same energy, tenacity, and effort on their upcoming road trip. They’ll need it.