Anaheim Ducks Fall Behind Early, Lose Opener to Penguins


The Anaheim Ducks experienced a rare case of “season-opener deja vu” as they fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-4 in Thursday night’s season opener in Pittsburgh.

After last year’s 6-1 debacle on the road against the Colorado Avalanche in the season opener, the Ducks hoped to begin their 2014-15 campaign on a high note.

It didn’t happen.

Although Anaheim erased a 3-0 deficit to tie the game at 3-3 midway through the second period, the Penguins grabbed the lead right back as Sidney Crosby and Blake Comeau scored consecutive goals less than one minute apart and shut down the Ducks’ chances at completing the comeback.

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Brandon Sutter added a shorthanded goal for good measure just 1:01 into the third period to push the lead to 6-3. Corey Perry would score his third goal on the night for the Ducks to make it 6-4 with 3:13 remaining in the tilt, but it was far too late to start another rally.

Things looked bleak early for Anaheim as it didn’t take long for the Penguins to score their first goal of the 2014-15 season. Patric Hornqvist tallied his first as Penguin to put Pittsburgh ahead 1-0 just over five minutes into the first period. Crosby’s first goal extended the lead less than three minutes later as his wrist shot squeaked past netminder John Gibson for a 2-0 advantage for the home side.

Pascal Dupuis would add another in the first frame to give the Penguins a 3-0 lead. Anaheim would get one back just over a minute later as Ryan Kesler potted a power play goal on a one-timer to cut the deficit to two. Kesler, who was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks this offseason, finished his first game as a Duck with one goal and two assists while playing just under 20 minutes (19:29).

Kesler’s goal began a three-goal spurt for the Ducks as Perry scored two goals nearly five minutes apart in the second period to knot things up at 3-3, but it was all Penguins the rest of the way.

Oct 9, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) scores past Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Gibson, who was given the nod by head coach Bruce Boudreau over Frederik Andersen, struggled mightily. The 21-year-old rookie allowed six goals, three of them in the first period. He finished with 33 saves on 39 shots. It was Gibson’s first regular season loss of his young career.

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury wasn’t spectacular as he gave up four goals on 29 shots, but it was the offense that led the charge for Mike Johnston’s squad.

The Ducks will head to Detroit to take on the Red Wings on Saturday at Joe Louis Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. PT.

Detroit defeated the Boston Bruins 2-1 on Thursday.