Consistency has been an elusive beast for the Anaheim Ducks, who sat on an 18-12-7 record going into Friday night’s contest against the Vancouver Canucks. Following a solid win against the Calgary Flames, head coach Randy Carlyle’s men failed to sweep the back-to-back, falling 3-2 in overtime thanks to perfectly placed Henrik Sedin wrist shot.
Fowler: "There are a lot of positives, but there are a lot of inconsistencies in our game. We'll go to work and continue to improve."
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) December 31, 2016
Anaheim did themselves no favors in this one, compiling five consecutive minor penalties (seven total on the night). Though the Ducks’ penalty killers put up a valiant effort, including a Ryan Getzlaf short-handed tally in the first period, it stymied any ability to find a groove at even strength.
In that respect, the Ducks performed respectably, getting narrowly edged in the shot attempt battle by a 32 to 30 margin. The likes of Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell, and Ondrej Kase wreaked havoc around the Vancouver net at five on five, with Rakell potting his 16th goal of the year in the second period.
Ducks’ goaltender John Gibson performed admirably in his second start in as many nights, turning aside quality scoring chances to send the game into overtime. Yet as has been the case all season long for Anaheim, they failed to come out of the extra frame with two points.
They’ll take the point, but will once again be left wondering what their record would look like with a little more consistency to their game. As Cam Fowler succinctly put it to Fox Sports’ Julie Stewart-Binks following the game, “our consistency definitely has to improve”.
Anaheim seemed to only need four men on the ice in the first period, as Ryan Getzlaf scored his fifth goal of the season on the penalty kill at 5:48. A perfectly placed wrister that beat Canucks’ goaltender Ryan Miller low blocker would make one think that the Ducks’ captain would have far more than the five tallies he’s amassed so far.
The goal came on a pretty play from Anaheim’s Joseph Cramarossa, who opted to push the puck ahead through the neutral zone instead of settling for the dump-in. Outside of Getzlaf’s goal, the Ducks showed energy while playing short-handed and established a good cycle game at even strength, belying the fact that they’d played less than 24 hours before.
The middle frame got off to a promising start for the Ducks, with Rakell diving through the air to slam home his 16th goal of the season off of a rebound just 52 seconds into the period. Penalties would continue to be an issue for Anaheim, however, as they took three consecutive minor penalties. The penalty killers could only hold the fort for so long, as Vancouver’s Ben Hutton managed to get his point shot through a crowd to beat Gibson at 7:59
Reaction: 😱 pic.twitter.com/Cefqu4BPwD
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) December 31, 2016
Anaheim pushed back in a big way, throwing the puck on net at nearly every opportunity. It all came to a head on a Ducks’ power play, where Perry sliced a rolling puck at a gaping Vancouver net, only to have Miller snatch it out of mid-air. Perry smiled in disbelief at Miller’s effort, extending his goal-scoring struggles this season.
Though Anaheim finished the second period strong, they couldn’t manage to carry over that strong play in the early going of the final frame. The once highly-touted Jack Skille knotted things up for the Canucks, burying a rebound thanks to an uncharacteristic defensive breakdown from the Hampus Lindholm – Josh Manson pairing.
Once again, though, the Ducks stormed back with a strong puck possession game. Rakell and Perry continued to buzz around the Canucks net, but to no avail. Gibson came up huge in the final minutes of the period, sending the game into overtime thanks to a pair of dazzling sliding saves.
The Ducks managed to control play for much of the overtime period. Brandon Montour, in only his second National Hockey League contest, looked especially effective, creating a nice shooting opportunity for Ryan Kesler. Yet the tide eventually turned against the Ducks, as it usually does for them in the extra frame.
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) December 31, 2016
A Fowler slap shot off of a two on one exploded off of Miller’s catcher, springing a Vancouver rush that ended with Henrik Sedin going bar down on Gibson to end the game at 4:01.
ANA – Ryan Getzlaf (5) assisted by Joseph Cramarossa (4) & Josh Manson (7)
ANA – Rickard Rakell (16) assisted by Hampus Lindholm (4) & Corey Perry (22)
VAN – Ben Hutton (5) assisted by Bo Horvat (13) & Markus Granlund (8)
VAN – Jack Skille (4) assisted by Sven Baertschi (11) & Alex Edler (3)
VAN – Henrik Sedin (9)assisted by Loui Eriksson (10), Ryan Miller (1)
THW Three Stars
First: Henrik Sedin (overtime winner)
Second: Rickard Rakell (goal)
Third: John Gibson (23 saves)
Philadelphia Flyers at Anaheim Ducks
Honda Center – 5:00 p.m. PST on Sunday, January 1
Broadcast channels – NHLN & PRIME
2016-17 Season Series: Oct. 20 Philadelphia (3) – Anaheim (2)
Felix Sicard is the Anaheim Ducks’ Lead Writer for The Hockey Writers. Now in his third season of covering the team, he writes previews and recaps for all Ducks’ home games, as well as weekly analysis pieces.
In addition to covering the Ducks at THW, Felix co-hosts SB Nation’s Anaheim Calling: The Podcast, as well as hosting The Garage Hockey Podcast.
For consistent Ducks’ content, be sure to check out his Twitter @Felix_Sicard.