Anaheim, CA – Well, Friday night’s festivities got off to a very nice, admirable start for the Anaheim Ducks home opener. Ducks’ captain Ryan Getzlaf made a short speech thanking the fans for the support after the lengthy lockout. Both teams came out to center ice to salute the sellout crowd at HC. It was the first Ducks game at Honda Center in nine months. However, this one might be forgotten rather quickly as the Vancouver Canucks power play literally powered them to a 5-0 victory.
The Ducks rode the usual home opener momentum early on in the game. The Ducks carried the majority of the play in Vancouver’s zone. Vancouver goalie Corey Schneider was spectacular within those first eight or so minutes. The Ducks had plenty of good scoring chances, however, a few of them failed to even hit the net. That went on for the entire game as the Ducks at some points had trouble hitting the net on their best opportunities. However, at the 8:11 mark of the 1st period, things started to unravel for the Ducks. Daniel Winnik took a holding penalty and shortly after that Getzlaf took a cross-checking penalty. The Canucks capitalized on that 5-on-3 power play with a typical Henrik Sedin-Daniel Sedin connection. Ducks defenseman Bryan Allen, later in the period, took an interference penalty. Then, with just under two minutes left in the period, Mason Raymond tapped in another power play goal for the Canucks.
After a failed penalty shot by Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows early in the second, neither team really controlled play. That is, outside of the three power plays the Canucks had in the second period. The Canucks did score relatively late in the period from a bad turnover by Devante Smith-Pelly. Canuck Aaron Volpatti cashed in on the turnover to make it 3-0. The crowd had been very frustrated with the officiating up until late in the second when Corey Perry was called for charging and roughing after he was hit hard that could have been called. At this point, the Ducks composure was on the verge of cracking and Vancouver could sense that. With the double minor, the Canucks had a 4:00 power play. They converted on it in early in the third when Zack Kassian scored on an easy slam dunk, again on the power play.
Things unraveled ever more a little over halfway through the third period when Perry and Keith Ballard dropped the gloves. However, Ballard’s jersey got caught over his head and never threw a punch as Perry got a couple in before the refs broke it up. Since Ballard never actually threw a punch, he only got called for a roughing penalty. The league rule isn’t dropping the gloves and stick, a punch must be thrown by the player in order for him to be called for fighting. I kind of feel like the intent to fight, i.e. dropping the gloves, should be enough to warrant a fighting major penalty. The Canucks added another goal late in the third period as Raymond got his second of the game to make it a 5-0 final.
The Ducks played their best early on in the game. They were getting bodies in front and getting a lot of pucks to the net. Until they started to take penalties, it seemed the game was going to be a repeat of Vancouver’s home opener in which the Ducks took it to them in a 7-3 beating. However, the Ducks struggled mightily on the penalty kill, especially down low. The Ducks defense had problems protecting the crease. If one defenseman would creep to try and block a pass or shot, the next defenseman would not rotate to help cover the empty space. The Canucks also got their sticks on way too many of the rebounds allowed by Jonas Hiller. Hiller was not on point tonight. He hasn’t looked all that sharp consistently in these first three games. The last goal by Raymond definitely should have been stopped but Hiller really misjudged it as it went under his left arm on the far side. Offensively, the Ducks really didn’t get much going after the first period. In the second and third periods, the Canucks did a pretty decent job of keeping the Ducks out of the middle of the ice in their zone, especially on a power play the Ducks had early in the second. On a side note, rookie Rickard Rakell was a healthy scratch and rookie Peter Holland made his season debut, however, he had just under eight minutes of time on ice.
1. VAN Daniel Sedin (1 G, 1 A, Even)
2. VAN Corey Schneider (30 SV, 30 SA, 1.000 SV%, 1 SO)
3. ANA Saku Koivu (2 S, Even)
So, the Ducks have some work to do, but no time to do it as the Nashville Predators visit the HC tomorrow night for the back end of a back-to-back for the Ducks.
Tags: Aaron Volpatti Alexandre Burrows Anaheim Ducks Bryan Allen Corey Perry Corey Schneider Daniel Sedin Daniel Winnik Devante Smith-Pelly Henrik Sedin Home Opener Honda Center Jonas Hiller Keith Ballard Mason Raymond NHL Peter Holland Rickard Rakell Ryan Getzlaf Saku Koivu Vancouver Canucks Zack Kassian