Anaheim Ducks 3rd Period Struggles: What Needs to Change


The Anaheim Ducks have been struggling in the 3rd period in recent games, and it has ultimately cost them a few points in the standings.  The offense has been sporadic at best, and the defense has struggled to clear the defensive zone when pressure mounts up against them.  The Ducks have watched leads disappear and also seen games get out of reach in the final 20 minutes of regulation.

Matt Beleskey’s goal against the Boston Bruins on Monday night was the first time since October 22nd that the Ducks scored a goal in the 3rd period to add to a lead they already held.  Over that span, a total of 19 games, the Ducks only scored 12 goals in the final 20 minutes of regulation (and that number drops to 11 when excluding the empty-net goal Ryan Getzlaf scored against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 24th). Nine of those 12 goals either tied the game or cut into a deficit that the Ducks were already facing.  In 10 of those 19 games, the Ducks failed to score at all in the 3rd period, and over those 19 games, they held a 3rd period goal differential of -4.

More from Ducks News

Beleskey and Getzlaf each scored three goals in 3rd periods over that span. Ryan Kesler scored two, and Andrew Cogliano, Kyle Palmieri, and Devante Smith-Pelly each had one.  Though it seems like the Ducks are struggling offensively at the moment, I actually believe the opposite is true.  The defense has been struggling to move the puck efficiently out of the defensive zone and through neutral ice, which has led to Anaheim being hemmed into their own zone.

When the Ducks carry a lead into the final 20 minutes, the opposing team presses forward early and often, leading to the opposition getting more offensive opportunities. Similarly, Anaheim has been content to seemingly sit on leads. This combination has contributed to the Ducks playing in their own end for shifts at a time. Having Ben Lovejoy, Mark Fistric, and Francois Beauchemin all out due to injury doesn’t help the scenario either, as it forces young players like Josh Manson, Sami Vatanen, and Hampus Lindholm to play minutes similar to those of seasoned veterans.

The power play has also been struggling immensely in recent games, having failed to score in each of their last 15 attempts. Add that to the list of problems the Ducks are already facing, and a recipe for disaster is created.  All in all, I think the problem will be lessened when the Ducks are back to full health and rolling their top lineup.

While the game on Monday night against the Boston Bruins looked to be a step in the right direction, it is still too early to declare the 3rd period struggles a problem of the past. The passes were more accurate, the team skated better as a unit, and the results showed on the scoreboard as they held on for the 3-2 victory.  Tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers will show whether or not Monday was just a fluke or if the Ducks are truly headed in the right direction in closing out games.