Anaheim Ducks Stave Off Boston Bruins, Earn 3-2 Victory

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December 1, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks defenseman Mat Clark (37) and right wing Devante Smith-Pelly (12) celebrate the 3-2 victory against the Boston Bruins following the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks returned home, determined to put a stop to a two-game losing streak. The team scored a combined two goals in the first five periods against the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks on Friday and Saturday, but had a strong third period against the Sharks that they were looking to build off. Coming to face the Ducks were the Boston Bruins, last season’s President’s Trophy winners with 117 points. Despite a mostly similar group, injuries had put the Bruins at only 4th in the Atlantic Division and 6th overall in the Eastern Conference. However, the Bruins are still considered one of the elite teams in hockey, and it would take a great effort from the Ducks to prevail.

Despite some early struggles, the Ducks finally broke through, and they held on for a 3-2 win over the Bruins to snap their losing streak and improve their record during this six-game California stand to 3-2-0. The win propelled the Ducks to first in the Western Conference (though they have played two more games than St. Louis and Vancouver, who are one point and two points behind, respectively. The Ducks have also played three more games than Nashville, who is also one point behind).

The Bruins struck first in the second period. An Andrew Cogliano tripping penalty had just expired, but the Ducks were unable to clear the puck. Brad Marchand sent the puck around the boards, where it fell to David Pastrnak, who shot the puck at Frederik Andersen. The rebound fell to Marchand, who was left completely uncovered in the slot after Josh Manson went to cut off the shot by Pastrnak, and Marchand put the shot past Andersen to make the score 1-0 at the 10:20 mark. The goal was Marchand’s sixth of the season, the first Bruins player to reach six goals. Pastrnak recorded his first NHL point, a primary assist, on the play.

However, the Ducks would answer back to tie the game in under a minute. Sami Vatanen burst up ice on a rush, and he found Patrick Maroon at the wall. The rebound came off Tuukka Rask right to Vatanen, who chipped the puck past Rask to tie the game at one at the 11:17 mark. The goal was Vatanen’s sixth of the season, matching his total through 48 games last season. Vatanen also recorded his 20th point of the season, one off the career-high mark of 21 he also set last season.

Just before the end of the second period, the Ducks would strike again to make it 2-1. The Ducks got a cycle going in the offensive zone with their third line, and the Bruins were frenetically trying to clear the puck. However, the effort of Jakob Silfverberg kept the puck alive in the offensive zone, and he got the puck to Cam Fowler at the point. Fowler blasted a shot on net, and Devante Smith-Pelly got a tip to go through Rask’s legs with 21.8 seconds left. Smith-Pelly recorded his fourth goal of the season with that tip.

The Ducks made it 3-1 at the 4:43 mark in the third period. Ryan Getzlaf had a clean face-off win against Carl Soderberg, and the puck fell directly to Matt Beleskey, who hammered a shot past Rask to give the Ducks the lead. The goal was Beleskey’s 12th goal of the season, shattering his career high of 11 in 2009-2010 (and it took him 26 games to reach that mark after taking him 60 games to score 12 that season). The pending unrestricted free agent has had a marvelous opening third to the season, and he has been terrific, anchoring the Ducks’ secondary goal-scoring.

However, the Bruins would strike again, this time, at the 10:20 mark of the third period. Daniel Paille fought off Vatanen for the puck behind the net, and he threaded a pass through Vatanen, Eric Brewer, and Smith-Pelly to Simon Gagne, who tipped the puck past Andersen to cut the Ducks’ lead to 3-2. The goal was Gagne’s second goal of the season, who did not play in the NHL last season.

The Ducks’ 60 minute effort still wasn’t quite there. They got dominated to start: at the time of the Marchand goal, shots on goal were 24-10, Boston. It took the Ducks about half the game to get going, and when they got their 3-1 lead, they let up a bit, letting in the Gagne goal. However, the Ducks stepped up when they were down and they closed the game out late. It was a much better effort than what the team gave in the opening 40 against San Jose, and this should be another stepping stone for the Ducks to find their consistency while playing.

Here are my three stars for the game.