Playing with an almost complete NHL roster the Ducks showed they should again be one of the better teams in the Western Conference, even though they almost let the game slip away at the end. The Ducks used a consistent attack throughout the game to overcome the Canucks, out-shooting them by a wide margin through most of the game. Vancouver came back to tie the game in the final minute and played well in overtime, but Teemu Selanne used his sniper-like aim to end the game before it could get to a shootout.
The Ducks again got off to a slow start with no goals until more than halfway into the game. The only noteworthy action of the first half was a fight between Ryan Carter and Rick Rypien, a fight which Rypien got the better of. Rypien landed an early left and Carter was behind the rest of the way, falling to the ice on several occasions. To see the fight, click here. Both were given five-minute majors for fighting.
Corey Perry finally got on the scoreboard on a great pass from Brendan Mikkelson. Mikkelson carried the puck down from the point on the left boards before centering the puck from well behind the goal line. Perry was parked at the top of the crease of Andrew Raycroft and quickly redirected the puck between Raycroft’s legs for the goal.
The third period was where the game got away from the Ducks. They started the period well and were in control for the first half. Just over ten minutes into the period Ryan Whitney lasered a shot past Raycroft after a few great plays from the Ducks’ forwards. Bobby Ryan skated the puck into the offensive zone alone while the Ducks changed behind him and made a spinning a pass to Ryan Getzlaf in the middle of the ice. Getzlaf then showed tremendous patience and layed the puck back for Whitney, who one-timed the puck high on Raycroft.
Soon after Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller got himself in trouble when he went behind the net to play the puck but played it directly to Vancouver forward Michael Grabner. Grabner threw the puck back towards the net where it caromed off Hiller to Matt Pope, who jammed the puck in.
The goal gave the entire Canucks team a boost as they collectively turned up their game from that point on. Vancouver had the better of the scoring chances for the rest of the period and eventually their hard work paid off with the tying goal scored by former Duck Shane O’Brien. O’Brien flung the puck from the point towards Hiller who was caught deep and never saw the puck because of traffic in front of him.
The Canucks carried that momentum into the overtime session where they had the better of the scoring chances. The Ducks, however, were just waiting until the perfect moment to take their first shot of the extra period. The Canucks were unable to clear the puck when Saku Koivu gave the puck to Selanne at the bottom of the faceoff dot on the left-wing in the offensive zone. Selanne then took a few strides towards Raycroft before sending the puck top shelf. A stunned Raycroft didn’t move a muscle, as if to say “I did everything right.” Ducks fans have seen Selanne’s victims react that way on multiple occasions.
The Ducks played an extremely veteran lineup compared with Vancouver. The only player that can be considered a prospect was Luca Sbisa, who didn’t have a strong game but played well enough. Sbisa was paired with Scott Niedermayer for the game, while Mikkelson and Steve Eminger were the third defensive pairing.
The Ducks will travel to San Jose tonight for a game Friday at the Shark Tank. The Ducks beat the Sharks just a few games ago and it will be interesting to see if Coach Randy Carlyle keeps the same veteran lineup for tomorrow. Be sure to check back throughout the day Friday for a preview and line combinations, as I wrote for tonights game in this article and this article. I will also post links where the game can be seen over the internet, as I did in this post.
NOTES FROM TONIGHT
- Ryan Getzlaf returned to action tonight with his first preseason game of the year. Getzlaf looked great in the first period and set up Whitney on a third period goal. Getzlaf’s conditioning would be the only thing to worry about as he returns from off-season sports hernia surgery.
- Jonas Hiller played the entire game for the Ducks, who are still carrying three goalies. Justin Pogge should start one of the next two games, with the most likely scenario coming with a start tomorrow night at San Jose.
- The Ducks second line featured Andrew Ebbett playing left wing alongside Koivu and Selanne, a combination that looked very good. In particular, Koivu and Ebbett seemed to have some chemistry in the corners and around the net. The only downside is there is no muscle on that line. Case in point: Shane O’Brien gave Ebbett a shot to the head along the boards but there was no reaction from any Ducks players. Ebbett was left to fend for himself.
- Joffrey Lupul, who normally plays with Koivu and Selanne, sat the game out due to a stiff back. It was considered a precautionary move and Lupul should return to action soon, but probably not Friday night.
- The Ducks did not give up any powerplays during the game. No seriously…I’m not kidding. AND Evgeny Artyukhin played. What?! I know!!!