Anaheim Ducks Bounce Back, Shut Out Chicago Blackhawks 1-0

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Oct 28, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) and Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf (15) collide during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks embarked on a tough four-game road trip Tuesday, where they will face four Central Division playoff teams from last season over six days. The team was coming off an embarrassing 4-1 defeat to the San Jose Sharks in which they were called for 19 penalties and 90 penalty minutes. Their first test came in Chicago against the Blackhawks, a team seen by many as a Stanley Cup favorite. Led by superstars Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith, this was viewed as a marquee matchup between two Western Conference powerhouses.

The Ducks responded in terrific fashion, playing a far more disciplined game en route to a 1-0 shutout win over Chicago. John Gibson was absolutely stellar for Anaheim, stopping all 38 shots he faced, 18 of which came in the final 20 minutes. Although Anaheim did not generate a great number of chances on the offensive end, they got one score, and that was all they needed to come out on top tonight.

Kris Versteeg drew a high-sticking penalty from Sami Vatanen with 10:26 left in regulation. Near the end of the penalty, Brent Seabrook was unable to handle a pass from Bryan Bickell and fell, giving Devante Smith-Pelly a clear path to the goaltender. He put a backhander on net that squeaked through netminder Scott Darling for a 1-0 lead with 8:28 left in regulation. The score was Smith-Pelly’s third goal of the season and the Ducks’ second shorthanded tally on the year.

Gibson was constantly tested throughout the night, but he made save after save to keep denying Chicago from getting on the scoreboard. His best save of the night came early in the third when the game was still scoreless. Bickell skated around the net before firing a cross-ice pass through three players to Toews in the slot, who hammered a one-timer on goal. Gibson made a terrific diving stop to deny the Blackhawks captain.

The Ducks were successful because they limited mistakes against a team loaded with offensive skill. Anaheim only committed one giveaway on the night, not giving Chicago extra chances to go on the attack. In comparison, the Ducks committed 11 giveaways against the Sharks and had more giveaways than their opponent in six consecutive games before playing in Chicago on Tuesday. The Ducks’ defense also helped Gibson out, blocking 18 shots on the night. The team also made it a point to play more physical, outhitting Chicago 37 to 16.

As always, here are my three stars from the Ducks.