The Ducks exploded for three goals in a few minutes near the end of their Wednesday game to beat Ottawa. The explosion continued on Friday with the high-scoring (and high-goal-allowing) Dallas Stars on the first night of a California roadtrip that will take them through San Jose and LA as well.
They probably wish they’d showed up earlier than 8:15 for a 7:05 puckdrop.
Twice in the first, the Ducks’ PA announcer, Phil Hewlett, was not finished announcing a goal when the next one was put in. The times, to be exact about it, were 31 seconds apart from goal one to two, and 33 seconds apart for goals three and four.
Fans did have about 12 minutes to rest between these sets of goals, as goals one and two came in minute four while the latter two came in minute 16. All but one of them was at even strength. The last time the Ducks scored four goals in the first period? 2013, against Detroit, just after Christmas. They also scored five goals in a period of late, against Calgary last February.
It didn’t figure to be this way, with Dallas having rollicked to 147 goals to the point where the game began. The Ducks, by contrast, had just 80. But the Stars, which had pulled out to a ten-point lead in the West at one point, were also starting to flail. They were just 1-3-1 of late, and their scoring punch has been lagging. Plus, their goals against are quite high. Only two current playoff teams in the West have allowed more.
The second period would be begun with a careless holding penalty by Dallas, taken at just 16 seconds. But it came because Ryan Kesler charged down the wall and tried to burst past Goligoski. The Ducks did not capitalize, though they actually have a pretty good power play, at just a tick under the magic 20%, and they ranked 12th in the league as the night began. The Stars’ PK, if you were wondering, was 12th at 81.3%, but so-called special teams played only a minimal part on the night for Anaheim, more for the Stars, about which more below.
But for a team that has struggled mightily to score—Anaheim’s 1.90 GPG ratio was the only one in the NHL under 2.0 when the night began—the change was immediate. After the Ducks’ third marker, they skated bigger. You could just see it when Perry and Getzlaf came down the ice on a subsequent rush. They knew they could not be taken off the puck. And the fourth goal was lovely. Perry crossed the blueline and dropped the puck behind him through two guys. Getzlaf picked it up and put it diagonally across to Theodore, who spotted Perry going to the net and got him the puck. He threw it over the netminder.
One thing the Ducks would have to have been wary of, had they known, is that the Stars, this year, score more as the game goes on. They score more in P2 than P1, and more in P3 than in P2. What’s interesting here is that they take fewer shots in the third while scoring more than in either other two frame. The statistical analysis of this is simple: they get more accurate as the game goes on.
Slightly more complicated analysis: they fire away in periods one and two, but lock down and focus in the third, when their skill prevails. Ducks fans exited period one with utter confidence. They exited period two just about the same way, though the Stars got two goals, the only two they would see, during the middle period. The first came on the Ducks’ power play mentioned above. It was a shorthander, in other words, caused by Shea Theodore of Anaheim standing at the Dallas blueline waiting for a puck while the play rocketed down the other direction. Rookie mistake.
The other Dallas goal came on the power play on the effort of Jamie Benn to come from behind the net and stuff one past Ducks’ goalie Frederik Andersen. He might have fallen asleep on the play a little bit, but it was his only fault on the evening. His play was strong and big. He moved well side-to-side, and he tracked pucks through the enormous crowd in front of him ably. It was a nice effort.
He said afterwards, “We worked hard in the first period and got the bounces we needed. You usually want to hold every team to less than two [goals] because it gives you a chance to win. We did a good job today. They didn’t have too many looks, even though they had the puck a lot.”
The win means that Anaheim has started its second half 2-0, scoring four goals each time. Good thing, because the Stars have had the Ducks’ numbers of late. They were 4-1-1 coming in against Anaheim. In the Ducks’ building, they were 3-1-0. Since the start of 2013-14, the Stars have been 34-10-7 as they entered Friday against the Pacific. They are now none better, with the Ducks having prevailed.
It wasn’t expected, and even Bruce Boudreau had warned, after the game on Wednesday, that the Dallas offense was high-powered. But for some reason, they hockey gods have decided to start to pull Anaheim out of its scoring funk. Anaheim fans can only hope that this carries on as they play the Kings in an oddball 6pm start on Sunday.
Look at the names who did all the scoring and assisting for Anaheim. It’s all over the map, eleven names in all. But again, looking in aggregate, the top three points-getters on the Stars have 142 points coming in, 143 leaving the game. The top three on the Ducks had 74. But they exited with 77.
The team is in the last stages of a season-high eight-game home stand. They have LA, as mentioned, and then the Wild arrive for Wednesday.
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