Anaheim Ducks Dominate From Outset, Crush Blue Jackets 4-1

1 of 5

October 17, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry (10) celebrates his goal scored against the Minnesota Wild during the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After a bumpy 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, the Anaheim Ducks entered Friday with a six game winning streak. Another victory on Friday would give the team their fourth winning streak of at least seven games in the past two seasons, but they were going to be tested by a very good Columbus Blue Jackets squad. Columbus, although playing the second leg of a back-to-back, had overcome deficits of 2-0 and 4-3 in San Jose to beat the Sharks on Thursday.

In Anaheim, the Blue Jackets had no chance, as Anaheim dominated play from the first puck drop. Each time Columbus tried to make a push, Anaheim pushed back. The Blue Jackets would raise their level of play and urgency, only to have the Ducks match that effort. This resulted in the most complete win of the season for the Ducks, who outshot the Blue Jackets 34-17 and won a staggering 61.2% of their faceoffs (41 of 67).

John Gibson (1-1-0, 3.50 GAA, .875 SV%) got the nod for the first time since the opener, when he faced 39 shots on goal and allowed six goals to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unlike in the opener, Anaheim’s team defense was spectacular, limiting the space the Blue Jackets had on the ice. They cleared rebounds, tied up sticks, and established position on Columbus players in order to let Gibson see the pucks come at him. As a result, Gibson only faced 17 shots on goal. In Pittsburgh, the issue was not the six goals allowed, but the 39 shots faced. It is unreasonable to expect a goalie to carry a team every night when the defense does not help out. Gibson had a much easier time in goal, and he turned in a very solid performance that should give both him and the coaching staff confidence moving forward.

Corey Perry continued his hot streak, scoring his ninth goal of the season on the first shot of the game. Jakob Silfverberg drew a hooking penalty against David Savard 24 seconds into the game, putting the Ducks on the power-play early. Sami Vatanen entered the zone and faked a shot towards Sergei Bobrovsky before passing the puck to Perry. Perry skated through the crease as everyone on the Blue Jackets was frozen by the shot fake, and the winger put a backhand in a wide-open net to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead on his fourth power-play goal of the season.

The Ducks made it 2-0 on their second power-play opportunity of the game. A William Karlsson pass was broken up by Michael Chaput, but it found its way to Vatanen, who skated around and hammered a slapshot past Bobrovsky to give the Ducks a two-goal lead with 11:23 left in the 1st period.

The other two goals from the Ducks were from Devante Smith-Pelly and Ryan Getzlaf. Smith-Pelly scored in the second period after Getzlaf threaded a cross-ice feed through four Blue Jackets players to Perry. While the Columbus players were watching Perry, anticipating him to shoot, Smith-Pelly parked in front of Bobrovsky, and Perry passed it to him. Smith-Pelly re-directed the pass through the five-hole of Bobrovsky, making it 3-1. Getzlaf potted an empty-net goal late in the third: Francois Beauchemin banked a clearing attempt off the glass and sprung Perry for a chance at the other end. Columbus tried to clear, but the puck landed on the stick of Getzlaf, who fired wide. Andrew Cogliano got to the loose puck, and a wide-open Getzlaf hammered the feed into the empty-net for a 4-1 lead.

Columbus got its only goal from a strange sequence on their second power-play. Ryan Johansen fed Scott Hartnell for a one-timer in the slot, and Gibson tried to swat a rebound with his goal stick. However, the puck bounced off Hampus Lindholm and into the net, cutting the Ducks lead to 2-1 on Hartnell’s first goal of the season.

Although the game ended on a positive note for Anaheim, both clubs should feel very fortunate that their teams are mostly healthy after the game. There were many strange plays that had potentially dangerous outcomes.

It started when Perry and James Wisniewski got their skates tangled in the second period. The tangle made Perry fall, and a wrong cut on the back of Perry’s leg could have resulted in an Achilles injury, similar to the one that Ducks prospect Stefan Noesen just suffered and will miss four months with.

Almost immediately after Smith-Pelly’s goal, Jared Boll shoved Vatanen into the Ducks’ net, dislodging it, and then stepped over him after the play. Boll was obviously trying to generate some energy and momentum for the Blue Jackets, but all it did was put the Ducks back on the power-play.

In the third period, the particularly frightening plays happened. It started when Nate Thompson and Adam Cracknell fought for a loose puck in the corner. Cracknell’s left leg was jammed into the boards, and he had to be helped off the ice and was unable to put any weight on that leg. Surprisingly enough, Cracknell returned a few minutes later and did not miss a shift.

Then, Beauchemin blocked a howitzer from Savard on the Blue Jackets power-play. It hit him clean on the right leg, and Beauchemin hobbled over to the Ducks bench and immediately went to the locker room. The veteran had been having a superb game to that point, being a force on the blue line and preventing the Blue Jackets from entering the zone past him. However, he also returned to the ice without missing a shift.

Later in the period, Hartnell tried to take a run at Lindholm, who sidestepped the hit at the last second. That started a heated altercation between Getzlaf and Hartnell, the latter of whom received a tripping penalty (though it could have been called something more severe). Hartnell led with his knee and almost left his feet to try and initiate contact with Lindholm, a player who has a concussion history. Luckily, he escaped unharmed.

The last incident was by far the most frightening. Ryan Kesler, while falling to the ground on the Ducks’ fourth power play, cut Cam Atkinson just beneath the eye with his skate blade. Atkinson had to be helped off the ice, and the team announced after the game that no damage was sustained and no vision was lost.

Again, here are my picks for the Ducks’ three stars for the game.