The Ducks played their best game of the year tonight and were finally rewarded for it, shutting out the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0 for their third win in a row. The Ducks scored all three goals on the power play and J.S. Giguere made a few outstanding saves to help lead the Ducks to the win at Honda Center this afternoon.
The first ten minutes of the first period saw both teams play extremely sloppily with numerous neutral zone turnovers and missed passes. This was probably a result of both coaches trying to match lines to try to get an edge, but the players finally settled down as the period progressed.
Teemu Selanne got the scoring started near the end of the first period off a beautiful pass by Corey Perry. Ryan Whitney got the play started by shooting the puck from the point into Perry’s mid-section. Perry waited for the puck to drop to the ice before quickly passing it across the crease to Selanne who tapped it in for the first goal of the game. The goal was scored with 42 seconds remaining in the first period and extended Perry’s scoring streak to a remarkable 17 games.
Selanne would score again on the power play in the second period. Ryan Getzlaf sent a centering feed for Selanne who was standing at the top of the crease. The puck was bouncing crazily and hit Selanne’s skate before bouncing off ‘hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook and back to Selanne’s stick before being redirected just inside the post. It was Selanne’s 14th goal of the season.
The power play would keep rolling as Nick Boynton scored less than three minutes later. Bobby Ryan was skating the puck inside the offensive zone around the right circle towards the blue line, then turned and dropped the puck for a waiting Boynton. Boynton skated into the puck and wired it past Cristobal Huet, who seemed to be screened on the play. The Ducks took the lead into the locker room and never looked back.
Many things needed to happen in order for the Ducks to play this dominantly. The first reason for it is Giguere. He played outstanding and was as solid as he’s looked in over a year. Giguere had what was probably the highlight of the game when he stopped a one-time blast off a 2-on-1 break for the Blackhawks, sliding across the crease to get his left pad on the puck. Without Giguere’s solid play the Ducks would not be on a three-game winning streak.
The second factor is the play of the Blackhawks themselves. This wasn’t the same team that destroyed the Sharks just a few days ago, but they didn’t play terribly either. They missed on passes and took too many minor penalties, but still, let’s give the Ducks some credit here. They shut down the high-octane ‘hawks in impressive fashion and every line played their role well.
A third factor, and perhaps the most important, was the play of the third defensive pairing of Brendan Mikkelson and Steve Eminger. The pair were blocking shots and making smart passes, both to the forwards and to each other, and that made all the difference this afternoon. It’s not difficult to see that much of the Ducks’ struggles this season was a result of a weak third defense pairing, but those two played as well as any bottom pair should in this league.
And the power play continues to produce. Once again this season, every goal scored by the Ducks was on the power play. Selanne continues to score as he always has over his power play career and Getzlaf continues to make plays. The defense has begun shooting the puck with great regularity and Perry has been at the top of the crease on every play. Everything is working for the Ducks right now.
Finally, don’t look now, but the penalty kill seems to be on a roll. The Ducks killed off all four Blackhawk power play chances, and while the ‘hawks did have plenty of opportunities, Giguere was there to pick up for his defense. The Ducks have even begun to start blocking shots and winning faceoffs on a regular basis. Again, everything is working.
If the Ducks can keep up this type of play – the type that they’ve been playing with for the last seven games – there is no doubt that they will be able to make the playoffs. The team is still in a big hole after a terrible start to the season and will need a big winning streak to just get back into contention, but if tonight’s game is any indication, that should not be an issue.
The Ducks will have Saturday off and will play the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday at home. The Coyotes have slipped lately from their hot start, so the Ducks will look to keep the winning streak going at Honda Center.
From the Canadian Press:
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Jean-Sebastien Giguere posted his first shutout of the season, Teemu Selanne scored twice on the power play and defenceman Nick Boynton also connected with the man advantage leading the Anaheim Ducks to a 3-0 victory on Friday that snapped the Chicago Blackhawks’ eight-game winning streak.
Giguere made 28 saves in his 32nd career shutout, continually frustrating a high-powered offence that had outscored its opponents 34-13 during the streak — which fell one game short of tying the franchise record set last December.
The Blackhawks, who tied a club record with three short-handed goals in Wednesday’s 7-2 win at San Jose, came in with the NHL’s best goals-against average (2.13) and the league’s second-best penalty-killing percentage (85.5). But the Ducks scored on three consecutive power plays after Chicago killed off the first one.
Selanne converted Corey Perry‘s pass through the crease 42 seconds before the first intermission while Duncan Keith was serving a slashing penalty. The assist extended Perry’s point streak to 17 games, tying the club record Selanne set during the 1998-99 season.
The Ducks went on the power play again at 5:53 of the second period, when Brent Sopel was sent off for hooking just seconds after Giguere made a big save against Andrew Ladd. Selanne made it 2-0 with just three seconds left on the penalty, knocking in a rebound for his 14th goal this season after Huet stopped Ryan Getzlaf‘s short backhander from a sharp angle.
Boynton made it 3-0 at 10:26 of the second with his first goal of the season, beating Cristobal Huet through a screen with a one-timer from 50 feet while Dustin Byfuglien was off for goaltender interference.
The Blackhawks, who started the day two points behind San Jose for the league’s best record, were shut out for only the second time this season. The victory was Anaheim’s third in a row, marking Giguere’s first three-game winning streak since last December.
NOTES: Anaheim is 9-for-20 on the power play over its last five games, after going 2-for-18 in the previous four contests. … The Ducks are 8-2-4 on the day after Thanksgiving. … The Blackhawks conclude their six-game road trip Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings, the team Huet made his NHL debut with in February 2003. … Anaheim RW Joffrey Lupul, who has seven goals in 13 career games against Chicago, missed his fourth straight game with back spasms. … The Ducks outshot Chicago 34-28. They are 8-3-0 when they get at least 30 shots in a game, and 2-8-1 in their other 11 games.