Angels night at Honda Center came at the perfect time. Not only did the Anaheim Ducks get to honor their friends at Angel Stadium, but the 9 angels we lost in the horrific Calabasas helicopter accident.
Prior to last night’s game, it had been 19 days since the Anaheim Ducks had played on home ice. With the All-Star break over, it’s time for the team to find that nose to the grindstone mentality. Their first game back at home, the Ducks were scheduled to honor their friends across the freeway, the LA Angels. However, in the wake of the death of basketball superstar, Kobe Bryant, and eight others, Angels night at Honda Center couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
To start the night, the Ducks skated into warm-ups wearing eye-popping red jerseys with the Anaheim Ducks and LA Angels logo’s married together on the front crest. It was the perfect way to honor the two teams who, together, share the hearts of the city. A ceremonial puck drop followed, led by the Angels new manager, Joe Maddon, as well as several of their players, including Griffin Canning, David Fletcher, Ty Buttrey, and Patrick Sandoval.
The ceremonial puck was adorned with the number 24, ushering in a beautiful tribute for Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and the seven other’s we lost in the horrific helicopter accident that happened in Calabasas earlier this week. A 24 second moment of silence followed, paying tribute to the lives we lost and the impact they had on the world around them. It was no surprise that Kobe’s name was shouted into the rafters by fans as the humbling moment came to a close.
His impact on the sports community won’t be forgotten anytime soon. He was relentless, never complacent, and always improving. The Mamba Mentality was alive and well at Honda Center as the Anaheim Ducks welcomed their fearsome foes, the Arizona Coyotes, to center ice.
Adam Henrique Gives the Ducks Early Momentum
Adam Henrique would prove to be the hero of the first period, scoring two goals to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead. His first goal came off a deflection from Troy Terry. Terry made a good read in the neutral zone, using one of the Arizona defenders as a screen. He fires the puck from the point and the shot bounces off of Henrique and through Antti Raanta. This now begs the question, will we see more of Terry and Henrique together throughout the remainder of the season?
The second goal came from the help of Ondrej Kase. His beautiful spin-o-rama backhand feed to Henrique on the odd-man rush was incredible to watch. Procuring his 17th goal of the season, Henrique now leads the Anaheim Ducks in goals. The Arizona Coyotes were able to sandwich a goal in between Henrique’s, a wicked wrister from Vinnie Hinostroza, but the Ducks ultimately took the lead into the first intermission.
Hamp Lights the Lamp
It was defenseman Hampus Lindholm who would score the third goal of the night. This goal came just moments after John Gibson absolutely robbed Derek Stepan on the breakaway, making what is inarguably his best save of the season. Nicolas Deslauriers pursued the puck in the Coyotes zone, winning the puck off the far boards. In an attempt to bank in a shot, the puck is saved by Raanta. Grant wins possession of the puck, getting it back up to the point. Hampus Lindholm just blasts the puck through traffic, Raanta missing it completely. Lindholm scores his second of the season, but the 50th goal of his career, and the game-winning goal.
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Carter Rowney’s Goal Honors Kobe in a Special Way
Arizona’s Lawson Crouse would burry a backhand behind Gibson before the second period ended, closing in on Anaheim’s lead. Near the end, things got a little chippy between the two Pacific Division rivals. This would lead to some angry Ducks, most notably Ryan Getzlaf, and an Arizona power play. Despite the man advantage, it was the Anaheim Ducks who capitalized on the opportunity, scoring their fourth and final goal of the evening, a shorthanded goal from Carter Rowney.
Derek Grant was able to get the puck away from Oliver Ekman-Larsson, his shot saved by Raanta. However, Carter Rowney snuck in and buried the rebound. This goal would prove to be incredibly special. Not only was it the go-ahead goal for the Anaheim Ducks, but it would end up being a beautiful tribute to Kobe Bryant. Rowney, who also dons the number 24 on his sweater, scored their final goal on the 24th shot of the evening during the Anaheim Ducks 24th home game. While this is purely coincidence, it seems like the only proper way to finish out the game which ended in a score of 2-4.
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