Don’t let the record fool you, this New Jersey Devils team are no slouch. The Anaheim Ducks learned that the last time they played each other and you can bet that when Andy Greene scored his tying goal late in the third – memories of their last meeting surfaced in the back of the Ducks’ mind.
The Ducks endured and thanks to a Kyle Palmieri highlight reel wraparound goal, they came away with their seventh straight victory, and find themselves halfway home on a perfect road trip to head into the Christmas break.
After a first period that saw both teams enjoy surges in their favor, but neither could capitalize on their chances, the Ducks and Devils went into the first intermission tied at zero. You can see something developing however, something that was potentially dangerous for the Ducks – the forechecking of Adam Henrique.
Half way through the second period, it finally cost the Ducks as after Ben Lovejoy whiffed on a pass attempt to clear the zone – Henrique took the puck and found a wide open Michael Ryder. And as he has done his entire career (goal 223 of career), buried it behind goaltender Jonas Hiller.
In a game that was close in play and most of the statistical categories, the one stat that stood out in the Ducks favored paid dividends on their first goal – faceoffs.
Anaheim won 38 faceoffs compared to the Devils’ 25. A Mathieu Perreault offensive zone win led to a Cam Fowler shot on net that goalie Corey Schneider couldn’t see until it was too late thanks to a perfect Palmieri screen.
With little space to operate, and even less genuine chances to score as the game progressed, it looked as if the team that was able to score the ‘ugliest’ goal might end up the victor. And while it wasn’t ugly, it did come off a turnover and after Palmieri out muscles Malik Zidlicky and centered the puck to the net, Perreault was able to finish the play off for the Ducks to take a 2-1 lead late in the third.
Knowing it was coming, the Ducks couldn’t do anything about the coming Devils’ surge, with Andy Greene scoring the game tying goal with just over five minutes left in the third. Streaking down undetected from the blue line – Greene was hit in stride by a Jaromir Jagr cross ice pass as Greene slammed home the back door play for his fifth of the season.
Maybe it was meant for the two teams to go to overtime this game as well, if only to show that the Ducks won’t beat themselves twice against the same team. They didn’t and the New Jersey native Palmieri finished the show.
Already creating a goal by using a power move to the net, this time Palmieri didn’t pass the puck but took the puck behind the net and ensued to score on the wraparound after the puck deflected off a defenders stick.
The Ducks have now won seven in a row, and haven’t lost in regulation since their drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Stars on November 26.
The Devils are 4-4-2 in their last ten games, and have earned points in 11-of-16 home games this season – all though only seven were wins.
Anaheim plays the third leg of their four legged road trip with a matchup against the New York Islanders. The game will be Saturday night, 4 PM PT.
Anthony Murphy is the Editor at Pucks of a Feather. You can reach him by email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @AMurphyTFC.