‘Ducks Drill Down’ is a regular, ~weekly column that recaps the latest goings-on with the Anaheim Ducks.
It was a light week of game action for the Anaheim Ducks. Following their wild 6-5 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Honda Center on Feb. 25, they had four days off before facing off against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night.
The rest looked like it re-energized the Ducks, as—with new acquisitions Chris Kelly and Jason Chimera in the lineup—they defeated the Blue Jackets and then the Chicago Blackhawks two days later.
Gibson Returns, Ducks Defeat Jackets
Goaltender John Gibson shook off his lower-body injury suffered in Las Vegas on Feb. 19 to return to the lineup for Friday’s contest against the Jackets. He was excellent in turning aside 34 shots to help Anaheim to a 4-2 victory.
Gibson spoke to how the time off helped the Ducks recharge and come out with a good effort against a Columbus team similarly fighting for the playoffs, albeit in the Eastern Conference.
“I think we wanted to make sure we held ourselves accountable,” Gibson said. “When we get two days off to kind of reset and rest, that we want to make sure we came and worked hard in two days of practice and we wanted to follow it up with a good game. I thought we did a pretty good job of that. It was good.”
The Blue Jackets actually got on the board first thanks to a Sonny Milano goal 13:28 into the opening frame, but the Ducks bounced right back to tie the game 38 seconds later. Rickard Rakell stayed hot following his hat trick against the Oilers, tallying his 26th goal of the season.
Anaheim took over the game in the second period, with their penalty killing in the middle of it all. First, it was Andrew Cogliano who scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway following a Columbus turnover about midway through the period. The tally was just the seventh of the season for Cogliano, but that doesn’t tell the full story of the chances he’s created only to be denied by poor puck luck, highlighted by a career-worst shooting percentage of 5.2 percent.
“I’ve had chances all year,” said Cogliano, who scored 16 goals last year. “I don’t think offensively I’ve had a lot of pucks go in the net this year but I think I’ve been creating the same amount as last year. I think that’s just how it is sometimes.”
Next, it was Josh Manson doubling Anaheim’s lead less than two minutes later as he converted on a breakaway of his own in pretty fashion after exiting the penalty box.
Cam Fowler would make it 4-1 late in the third before the Jackets’ Zach Werenski closed out the game’s scoring with a marker that made it 4-2 with just over two minutes to go. For the Ducks, they might have given up the first and last goals of the game, but it was everything that happened in between that ultimately decided the contest.
Ducks Light Up the Scoreboard in Win Over Blackhawks
The Ducks made sure this weekend was better than their last one, as they followed the win over Columbus with a 6-3 victory over the no-longer-elite Blackhawks.
Jakob Silfverberg and Corey Perry—two players on whom the Ducks would love to lean for more scoring—each picked up a pair of goals. Defenseman Marcus Pettersson also scored his first NHL goal on a fluttering shot from the point.
Gibson followed up Friday night’s win with another solid performance, making 37 saves in a game where, contrary to what the final score might have indicated, the Blackhawks had surges of pressure for long stretches of time.
Ryan Getzlaf, who missed the Columbus game with the flu, returned for the game against Chicago and, in typical Getzlaf-ian fashion, notched three assists. He now has 45 points (9 goals and 36 assists) in just 41 games this season. One of Getzlaf’s assists came on yet another Rakell goal—the 27th of the season for the 24-year-old Swede.
Comtois Signs ELC
In other news, the Ducks announced on March 3 that they signed 19-year-old forward Maxime Comtois to a three-year entry-level contract.
Comtois was a second-round selection (50th overall) of the Ducks in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He has put up some gaudy numbers for the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL, tallying a whopping 73 points (39 goals and 34 assists) in only 49 games played this season.
Depending on how Comtois is able to adjust to the professional game once he ultimately gets some AHL experience, it’s possible that he could be suiting up for the Ducks some time in the next couple of years.
Ducks’ Upcoming Schedule
The back-to-back home victories have put the Ducks back in front of the rival Los Angeles Kings for third place in the Pacific Division. Through 66 games for each team, the Ducks have 78 points while the Kings have 77. Anaheim is also just one point behind the San Jose Sharks—who have also played 66 games—for second in the division.
The Ducks have another home tilt on Tuesday night as they face off against the Washington Capitals in Alexander Oveckhin and co.’s only visit to Honda Center this season. Anaheim will then hit the road for a tough pair of games on consecutive nights. First, they will be in Nashville Thursday night to take on the Western Conference-leading Predators. Then on Friday night, they’ll face off against the Stars in Dallas.