Last night, the Anaheim Ducks did something that they hadn’t done in a convincing fashion yet, and that was winning a game. In every asset of their game, the Ducks stepped up their efforts tenfold, and it was a much more promising sign than the last three preseason games.
From the beginning of the night all the way up to the last horn, the Anaheim Ducks were actually a pleasure to watch. The team chemistry was flowing, their skating was incredibly crisp and precise, and the comeback story of one particular player feels inspiring enough to rally the team on through even the regular season.
Finally Finding the Groove
Despite two early penalties for the Anaheim Ducks coming from Jacob Larsson and Andreas Martinsen, the Anaheim Ducks were rolling through the first period. Right off the bat, the main difference was in the defense, as they looked just incredible. It was their locking down on San Jose that helped the Ducks out through the rest of the night.
The offense was also woken up from last game’s shut-out, and they made sure to get some revenge for the last Sharks match-up by scoring two early goals of their own. The first tally was from Brendan Guhle sliding the puck right to Martinsen on the doorstep, and then not even five minutes later, the Swedish line got things done after Jakob Silfverberg jammed one home off a pass from Rickard Rakell.
After an amazing fight between Sam Carrick and Dillon Hamaliuk, the period came to an end with the Anaheim Ducks finally being ahead. It was the best period they’ve played over these four preseason games, and that kind of play is what the team needs to really succeed. Toughness, guts, and brains.
Anaheim’s Rollercoaster Second Period
Right out of the gate in the second, Guhle would make up for his earlier penalty with one of the prettiest bardown goals ever. The fact that he got off the wrister all the way up to the crossbar while there was a defender right in front of him is miraculous enough for that single play, let alone one game. And after that, there were even closer chances that ended up getting snuffed out by Sharks goalie Aaron Dell. But for a split terrifying second, none of that mattered.
Josh Mahura was skating into the Sharks’ zone when defenseman Dalton Prout hit him with an absolutely dirty knee. Mahura went down to the ice while the Anaheim Ducks took their turns trying to show Prout the fairest way of knocking someone down. The knee collision resulted in Prout’s ejection and a five-minute major for the Sharks. They got a tally at the end of the period, but the Sharks and their knack for starting fights and ending off with dirty plays is what really stung at that moment.
Even though hockey felt like the least proper thing to think about after what happened to Mahura, the Ducks were still playing great and the defense was still solid besides the small collapse that let up one San Jose goal through two periods of play.
Sushi on a Dish Served Cold
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To the surprise of every Anaheim Ducks fan, Josh Mahura was back on the bench in the third period laughing and smiling while waiting for his shift. It was truly a Paul Kariya kind of come back, and it was inspiring to see that the physical and dirty play that San Jose was employing was as old and stale as their veteran core.
The Anaheim Ducks took their fair share of penalties again in this game, but it balanced out nicely with San Jose taking them as well. As mentioned before in our recap of the last preseason meeting between these two teams, the Sharks are a team that is prone to taking lots of penalties, so the Ducks were exploiting that well to keep the game pretty even.
After some great saves at the end of the game by John Gibson, Anaheim finally got their chance to put the puck into the empty net. It was Derek Grant that put the game away, and the Anaheim Ducks won it 4-1. Instead of the usual “Duck Hunt” the Sharks like to talk about, the Ducks were feasting on some dirty sushi instead.
Overall, this was by far the best preseason game for the Anaheim Ducks, and they kept the negatives to a minimum. The main negative of this game was really the penalties for Anaheim considering that they took a preseason high nine penalties. Jacob Larsson is a repeat offender when it comes to this negative area, and he might need to learn his control a bit more before making a better impact on the team.
Even in their most negative aspect however, the Ducks made the Sharks take plenty of penalties to even it out, so they were playing smart hockey. The offense was smarter in generating chances and finishing on rebounds, the defense was smarter in applying pressure in all zones and preventing breakdowns, and Gibson was smart in keeping those insurance runs with some spectacular saves. Everyone was smarter, and the Anaheim Ducks now have a clearcut example of how the team has to play every game.
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