Jordan Staal #11 of the Carolina Hurricanes

Ducks Crash, Gently

Now this is a test. The Carolina Hurricanes  stormed out of the gate, winning nine games in a  row. Coming into Anaheim on Thursday, they were 12-2-0. The Ducks, after limping out of the gate, are 8-0-2 in their last 10 games. They had a league-leading eight-game win streak and NHL best ten game point streak coming in. Carolina’s earlier nine-game streak is the longest in the NHL this year.

So who would give? Carolina scored the first goal, in period one, but not dangerously early. It came at 4:44, Ethan Bear getting his first with the team. The Ducks responded at 11:03, Troy Terry extending his point streak to 16 games and with more goals than assists, at 12-10.  Getzlaf and Henrique got the assists, for Getzlaf his 18th.

Terry, by the  way, is approaching all-time scoring territory for the Ducks’ franchise. He’s at 16 games, and the two ahead of him are Selanne at 17 and Corey Perry  at 19,

So it was on. The second period brought good action but no scoring. The frame started out with an early Ducks’ power play. Interestingly, Coach Eakins demanded before it started that the Carolina goalie have the top of his stick taped. It was red, but rules state that it must be white. This tactic was designed to rest Anaheim’s big guns while the officials righted the tape situation.

The PP was unsuccessful,  and the Ducks did very little with their chance. Lots of movement, but no threat.

One good chance in P2 came when Gibson sent a long pass up to the far blueline for Getzlaf. He picked it up and went in with Terry flanking. Terry got the puck on a cross-ice pass, but put it up and over the net. Shortly  after, Shattenkirk took a shot and Sonny Milano got a tip on it, but there was a pad save. Close to a lead, but no go.

Carolina countered in the form of Slavin who shot from the right of the net and saw Gibson make a stick save. He got the rebound and shot again, off Gibson’s shoulder.

The period ended still at a single goal apiece.

Carolina surged to 2-1 when Seth Jarvis scored in period three. It was a scramble in front of, and eventually behind, the net, where Jarvis scored in the end by throwing a puck off John Gibson’s leg from behind the net. Three or four Carolina players had had a stick on the puck before it floated past the red line and into Jarvis’s grasp.

The two starting goalies, John Gibson and Freddie Andersen, were the duo which won the Jennings trophy together in 2015-16 for allowing the fewest goals. On this night, Gibson faced 32 shots with two allowed to go in, and Andersen 31 with one scored.

Power plays were 0/2 for the Ducks and 0/1 for Carolina. The game was fair and clean, a contest played between two skillful clubs.

Andersen almost added some value late with the other goalie pulled. He shot it down ice and possibly toward the net, but Cam Fowler dove wildly at his blueline to knock it away. The Canes had at least four chances at the empty net, twice missing, once seeing Fowler do what was just described, and once hitting the cross bar. In the end, it didn’t matter. They secured the 2-1 win.

After the game, Fowler put things in perspective, despite the loss. “We’ve played some good hockey. We’ve showed that we can win hockey games in a variety of different ways, and compete with anybody on  any given night. We trust in what we’re able to do, and focus on the game that we want to play. . . . Hard fought hockey game. Stinks to be on the wrong side of it, but there’s some positives we can take was well.”

Coach Eakins commented on the goaltending, saying the two goalies were both excellent. “I really believe [Gibson] is the best goaltender in the league. He gives us the  chance to win every night.” Then he shifted to the overall team play. “Smart group. They’ve  been extremely resilient, even through adversity. They’ve been having fun. It’s a really tight-knit dressing room. Our captain is driving the bus, and the rest of our vets, especially John Gibson, are riding shotgun, so this has been player-driven.” He said the  team would have tomorrow to rest before getting back to practice and getting on the road.

Once again, Ryan Getzlaf was Mr. Fountain of Youth, notching 21:55 of ice time. Only defenseman Fowler had more. His production, aside from the assist, was one in shots, and one hit. He was slightly over 50% in the faceoff circle.

Carolina started the year 9-0, a pace obviously unsustainable, but they’re not far off of it leaving the game, with a 13-2-0 record.  They now head to the Kings on Saturday and San  Jose Tuesday. These two teams—the Kings and Ducks—won’t see each other for five months. They reunite in Carolina on April 10th.

The Ducks are on the road for two games next week before returning home to play Ottawa—pending the Covid halt to that team, of course—on Black Friday. They then have Toronto and end their month of November with a game away at the Kings.

 

Note

Brian Kennedy is a member of the PWHA (Professional Hockey Writers Association).