The Anaheim Ducks’ second series duel against the Arizona Coyotes was anything but ideal. They took commanding leads in both games before squandering them late and losing. The Ducks will surely lament their missed chances, though, as they had the opportunity to sweep the series after being up 3-0 in both games. It was a disappointing effort, to say the least.
In what was quite possibly the most anticipated game of the season for Ducks’ fans since the season opener, Trevor Zegras made his NHL debut Monday night. He had 13 minutes of ice time with a plus-one rating and two shots on goal. His second shot on goal had a chance to even the score at four apiece, but Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper made a nice shoulder save. Zegras also came extremely close to earning his first career NHL point on Wednesday night. His pass to Sam Steel was tipped by a Coyotes player and was deemed out of the Ducks’ possession, so Zegras was not credited with the secondary assist on Josh Mahura’s goal, which he also nearly tipped past Kuemper.
Zegras didn’t look out of place and displayed the skills that made him the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. The 19-year-old was especially noticeable on the power play, where he has typically been able to do his best work. Ranked 29th in the league, the Ducks’ power play can use all the help it can get. Zegras’ impact on special teams is already evident after just two games. He has the potential to be a game-changer on the man advantage once he’s fully adjusted to the speed of the NHL game. His nifty goal in the shootout may also put him in consideration for future skills competitions during the rest of the regular season.
Lack of Urgency Evident
The Ducks got out to a hot start in Monday night’s game, going up 3-0, but they failed to keep their foot on the gas pedal and ended up losing 4-3. A lack of urgency was on full display as the Ducks failed to capitalize on the chances they had to increase the lead and it came back to bite them in the butt.
Changes for Wednesday night’s game were expected and it came in the form of Vinnie Lettieri and Sonny Milano. Troy Terry and Danton Heinen came out of the lineup for the former two with veteran David Backes being a healthy scratch as well. While the newcomers didn’t get on the scoresheet, they did make their presence felt. Lettieri added an element of speed to the fourth line while Milano linked up well with Ryan Getzlaf and Max Jones on the first line.
However, the theme was the same in the second game of the series as the Ducks let the Coyotes back into the game late in the third period. Two consecutive goals by the Coyotes just minutes apart in the third period cut the Ducks’ lead to one with eight minutes left in the game and a goal with three minutes remaining tied it up. Kuemper left the game early in the third period, leaving Adin Hill as the replacement. The Ducks failed to really generate any shots against Hill in regulation and looked content to sit back and try to defend their lead.
Mad Max Contributions
Having gone without a power-play goal in his career before the Ducks’ series against the Coyotes, Jones finished the road trip to Glendale, AZ with two career power-play goals under his belt. The winger has been in and out of the lineup after beginning the season on injured reserve and then being a healthy scratch once returning to full health. He only has three points on the season, but all three are goals.
Max Comtois stayed hot, potting his team-leading eighth goal of the season. An assist on Jones’ goal also extended Comtois’ team lead for points with 12. The 22-year-old has been the Ducks’ most consistent player this season. The Ducks have been carried by the strong play of their young players and Comtois has been at the forefront. Stronger contributions from their veteran players will go a long way toward making the youngsters’ performances all the more helpful.
V for Vegas
The Ducks will now get three days off as they travel back home to face the Vegas Golden Knights for a single game. Last time out against the Golden Knights, John Gibson pitched his third shutout of the season a 1-0 win. Blanking a team with as much offensive firepower as the Golden Knights is impressive, but Gibson can’t be relied upon to do that every single game.
The Ducks will hope to carry their offensive momentum from the Coyotes series into their game against Vegas. But, if their defensive effort doesn’t improve, it won’t matter how many goals they score. Finding the balance between offense and defense will be key for the Ducks as they enter a tough stretch in their schedule.