Anaheim Ducks Finally Win in Regulation, Top Arizona Coyotes 2-1

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November 23, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17), defenseman Hampus Lindholm (47) and defenseman Sami Vatanen (45) celebrate with goalie Frederik Andersen (31) the 2-1 victory against the Arizona Coyotes following the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks returned to southern California and Honda Center for a three game homestand and a six game stretch in the state of California. Despite the team sitting atop the Pacific Division and Western Conference with 29 points, the team hadn’t won in regulation since November 2nd, a 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Coming in were the Arizona Coyotes, a team the Ducks played for 55 strong minutes against last time on November 7th. However, the team gave up two goals in 58 seconds before ultimately falling to the Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout that night.

The Ducks were in danger of ceding another multi-goal lead, but they held up and finally got that elusive regulation win, defeating the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 in 60 minutes, becoming the first team in the Western Conference to break the 30 point mark.

Kyle Palmieri would start the scoring at 14:08 in the second period. Mike Smith fell behind his own net trying to play the puck, and Ryan Kesler won a puck battle against Zbynek Michalek, who also fell down. Kesler fed a puck into the slot area, which found Palmieri. Joe Vitale tried to act as the goaltender, but Palmieri fired his shot past him for his second goal of the season. With the primary assist, Kesler moved into a tie with Corey Perry for third on the team in points (16).

Patrick Maroon would make it 2-0 just three minutes later at the 17:20 of the second. Kesler won a faceoff against Antoine Vermette, and the puck came to Sami Vatanen at the right point. Vatanen fired a shot on net, and the rebound fell directly to Maroon, who pocketed his shot past Smith for his first goal of the season. Vatanen’s assist gave him 13 helpers on the season, tied with Ryan Getzlaf for the team lead. Kesler got a secondary helper with his faceoff win, putting him alone in third on the team in points (Getzlaf leads with 19, Vatanen is right behind with 18).

However, the Ducks would again let up and let the Coyotes back into the game. Keith Yandle would strike and make the Ducks pay at the 8:56 mark to cut the lead in half. Michalek sent the puck around, and Martin Erat got the puck. Erat sent a backhand into the slot, and nobody had the defenseman covered as he slid a shot underneath Frederik Andersen. The goal was Yandle’s third of the season, and he re-took the team lead in points (15) and tied Oliver Ekman-Larsson with the team lead in goals from blue-liners (three).

The Ducks weren’t particularly great in the final 20, but they were engaged on every level in the first two periods. The Ducks outshot the Coyotes 25-10 in the opening 40 minutes, and every Anaheim player saw more shot attempts for than against when on the ice, while only one Arizona player did not see a negative shot attempt differential in the first 40 minutes (Tobias Rieder). Despite the feverish push the Coyotes made in the final 20 (Arizona outshot Anaheim 17-5 in the third period), only four Ducks players finished with a negative shot-differential rating (Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, Getzlaf, and Maroon).

Here are my three stars for the game.