Anaheim Ducks Defeat Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 in Shootout

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Dec 3, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen (31) celebrates with his team after the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Honda Center. The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in a shootout with a final score of 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks looked to cap off a six game stretch in California with a fourth win against the Philadelphia Flyers, a team who had lost five straight games and had gone 1-8-1 in their past 10. This was a team in the bottom third in the league in shots against per game and goals against per game (giving up the 7th most in each category) and a team that played a heartbreaker the night before, so the Ducks were primed to take advantage.

It wasn’t easy, but the Ducks persevered and overcame the Flyers 5-4 in the shootout. They overcame a multi-goal deficit and had to stave off a furious rally, but they walked away with the win and ended their California stretch 4-2-0. The Ducks now have 37 points, tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the most in the NHL (the Lightning would be ahead because they have played one fewer game).

The first period was nothing exciting for either team, as sloppy play was evident throughout the entire 20 minute frame. Neither team got any real offensive opportunities, and each team only registered four shots on goal apiece in the opening frame. It looked like the first team to wake up would be the one to win the game.

The second period, however, was a different story: both teams exploded for three goals apiece in the middle frame. Michael Raffl got the scoring started at the 5:46 mark of the second. Ryan Kesler tried to make a pass in the offensive zone, but the puck bounced off the stick of Raffl. Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux got a rush started the other way, and Giroux fired a cross-ice pass through the goal crease to Raffl, who put the puck past Frederik Andersen to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. The goal was the seventh for Raffl, but it was the 24th assist and 33rd point for Voracek, tying him with Sidney Crosby for the league lead in points.

The Ducks would come back to tie the score at one at the 8:14 mark. Wayne Simmonds and Corey Perry were sent off at the 6:25 mark for coincidental roughing minors, and during the 4-on-4 session, Andrew MacDonald fired a shot on Andersen that was saved. The rebound fell to Cam Fowler, who passed to Jakob Silfverberg. The Swede led a three-on-two rush and left the puck for Fowler, who trailed on the play. Fowler hammered the puck, and it deflected off the stick of Mark Streit past Steve Mason to tie the score at one. It was Fowler’s third goal of the season, and Andersen recorded his first point of the season with a secondary assist on the play.

However, the Ducks would cede the lead quickly, as the Flyers scored again just 32 seconds later. Kyle Palmieri tried to take a pass from Corey Perry, but he failed to get a shot away. Brayden Schenn chipped the puck to Simmonds, who had stepped out of the penalty box, and he steamed in past Clayton Stoner and fired a shot past Andersen to make the score 3-1 at the 8:46 mark. The goal was Simmonds’ ninth of the season, tying him with Voracek for the most on the team.

The Flyers would add to their lead, taking a 3-1 lead at the 10:47 mark. Mat Clark was sent off for elbowing Chris VandeVelde at 8:59, and the Flyers cashed in on the ensuing power-play. Sean Couturier got to a puck sent around the boards by Sami Vatanen, and he laid a pass for Nick Schultz at the left point. Schultz hammered a shot, which ricocheted off the blocker of Andersen and laid behind him. R.J. Umberger tapped the puck into the open net for just his second goal and fourth point of the season.

However, the Ducks would respond quickly as well, cutting into the deficit at the 11:15 mark. Perry won a puck battle in the defensive zone and threw the puck in the middle of the ice, where it fell to Hampus Lindholm. Lindholm led a three-on-one rush against Luke Schenn, passing the puck to Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf opted to shoot the puck, going high-glove on Mason with his eighth goal of the season.

The Ducks would tie the game near the end of the second period with 53.2 seconds left. Vatanen intercepted a Scott Laughton clearing attempt and rushed in the zone by himself, trying to get a shot. The puck went behind the net, but Patrick Maroon won a puck battle against Laughton and got the puck to Vatanen, who pushed a backhander past Mason to tie the game at three. The goal was Vatanen’s seventh, setting a new career high in 27 games (he scored six goals in 48 games last season). That was also Vatanen’s 21st point on the season, matching his career high (also set last season).

In the third, the Ducks would take a lead. MacDonald was sent off with 6:40 left for a delay of game penalty (puck over glass), and the Ducks would cash in, breaking an 0/19 slump with the man advantage. Getzlaf shot the puck, which hit Perry in the front of the net and fell back to him. Perry sent a pass into the slot area, where Maroon snapped a shot past Mason to give the Ducks a 4-3 lead. It was Maroon’s second goal of the season, and his impressive play saw him get bumped from the fourth line to the second line with Kesler to finish the game.

However, the Flyers would make one final push. The Ducks were set to finish the game with a regulation win, but Simmonds would net the game-tying goal with 2.6 seconds left. MacDonald fired a blast from the point with Mason pulled, and Andersen scrambled to make the save with chaos in front. That rebound fell to Laughton, who shot the puck. Simmonds got to that ensuing rebound, corralled the subsequent rebound, and fired a shot past Andersen for his team-leading tenth goal of the season. This came right after Nate Thompson missed Devante Smith-Pelly for an empty-net goal.

Overtime would not be enough to settle the game, so the Ducks went to a shootout. Voracek went first for the Flyers, and he approached the net extremely slowly. He tried to go five-hole, but Andersen closed his pads for the save. Silfverberg stepped up for the Ducks, having converted four of his six attempts. Silfverberg fired his rocket wrist shot, and Mason couldn’t stop it completely, giving the Ducks a 1-0 lead in the shootout. Couturier went for the Flyers, but he missed his pokecheck, and Couturier converted to tie the score. Perry came in with speed on his attempt and went five-hole on Mason, giving the Ducks a 2-1 lead. Andersen finished the shootout by stopping Giroux, and the Ducks won the game 5-4.

The Ducks did not start the first period strong at all. This was a Flyers team that played the night before in San Jose, yet the Ducks were not able to capitalize on a weak first period effort: instead, they turned in a weak effort of their own instead of pouncing on a great opportunity. The Ducks have needed to play a full 60 minute game, but that cannot be done by taking 20 minutes to start playing the game. At the end of the day, the Ducks got a win, but just as it is with any game, there is always room for improvement.

Here are my three stars for the game.