The first game of the second series of the season between the Anaheim Ducks and the Vegas Golden Knights was a real barnburner. Two or more goals were scored in each period, culminating in a four-goal third period. The Ducks stormed all the way back after being down 4-1 to tie it before giving up the go-ahead goal late into the game.
The second game was fast and fierce, with very few whistles in between the intermissions. The Ducks outshot the Golden Knights through the first two periods, but could not find the elusive first goal thanks to some spectacular saves from Marc-Andre Fleury. But this time around, it would be the Ducks who would score late and walk away with the win, splitting their second series with the Golden Knights.
Pressure on Vegas Blue Line
The Golden Knights were without defenseman Brayden McNabb, and Shea Theodore left the first game early on due to injury. He did not return and did not play in the second game but Alex Pietrangelo made his return from the COVID-19 protocol list in the tail-end of the two-game series. However, the Golden Knights’ blue line still lacked ample experience behind Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez and Nick Holden. Zach Whitecloud, Nicolas Hague and Dylan Coghlan have played a combined 78 games in the NHL.
The Ducks used that to their advantage and much like their game against the Los Angeles Kings last week, they pressured the Golden Knights’ young defensemen on the forecheck as much as they possibly could. This resulted in plenty of turnovers as well as plenty of scoring chances.
Rakell Still Snakebitten
The ketchup bottle has not been kind to the Swedish winger so far this season. With just one goal in 15 games, it’s fair to say that the bottle is still stuck for Rakell. He had several good chances during the second game but failed to capitalize on any of them.
Rakell had a poor showing last season and has done far worse this season. As one of the players expected to shoulder the offensive load, Rakell’s scoring woes can be pointed to as one of the reasons why the Ducks have struggled to put the puck in the net.
The Ducks were able to put the puck in the net in the second game thanks to Rakell, though, as he made a nice dish to Max Comtois from behind the net. Rakell has displayed his ability to be a playmaker but the Ducks need him to be a scorer if the team is to operate at its full potential.
Pristine Penalty Killers
The Ducks have a top-three penalty kill in the league, and their penalty-killing unit continued its fine form on Thursday night, blanking the Golden Knights on both of their power play opportunities. While the Ducks’ power play has left both fans and head coach Dallas Eakins wanting more on the man advantage, the penalty kill has made amends somewhat.
Poor special teams are never ideal and the Ducks having a bottom-three power play is something that definitely needs improvement. But for now, Eakins will take solace in the fact that while his team can’t get on the board while a man up, they’re not letting the opposition score when they’re a man down either.
The Ducks have now kept both Colorado and Vegas’ power plays relatively quiet. These are two teams with plenty of offensive firepower, and to keep both these teams off the scoresheet as much as possible when they are on the power play is a feat to be proud of.
Heading to the Bay
The Ducks now have three days for travel and rest between now and their next game against the San Jose Sharks on Monday, Feb, 15. The Ducks split their first series of the season against the Sharks, with both results coming in the shootout.
The point continues to be hammered home almost every game it seems, but the Ducks need to do more with their scoring chances. John Gibson is an elite goaltender and Ryan Miller is more than an adequate backup, but they can only do so much on a nightly basis if the team isn’t scoring consistently.