The California back to back was one folks probably looked at as a "yeah right" part of the schedule. The Canucks play a bunch of games all together, and this one in particular was a possible trap game. Nonetheless, it was last night where they looked a bit tuckered at times, and were pushing the play on the home team in the third.
With the injury to Dorsett ( shoulder ), and Burrows ( I knew that looked bad, just as I don't expect the Dept of Player Safety to do anything about it ), Jack Skille and Alex Biega got in the lineup, with Biega playing as the 7th defensemen / 4th line forward.
It sure looked like this was going to be one of those games in the opening period. Anaheim had one win from their opening five game road trip, and obviously were up for their home opener. They opened the scoring inside the first minute, as Silfverberg rushed up the ice, gave it to Manson, and, with the Sedans trailing their checks, and Elder and Tanev inexplicably backing up all the way to the net, it was Cogliano who had an easy poke on Manson's rebound to put the first goal on the board.
The Canucks actually settled down after that. They were better structurally. Even as they had to kill two penalties, all the while dealing with being overwhelmed as far as shots, hits, face offs and zone time went, the Canucks gave Miller the chance to do his job after the opening goal.
Miller robbed Silfverberg twice, once on a turnover, and again on a rebound. He was standing up to the traffic, and his angles looked solid as he held down the fort.
The second penalty on Larsen, looked like it could be a killer. Last two minute penalties are often the tough ones to kill off. But after some pressure, Loui Eriksson made a great play at the line, poked a puck ahead to Bo Horvat, and he did the rest, blowing it by Gibson top glove. Suddenly, the game was tied again, in a game where it looked like the home team was going to run away with it.
I mean, after one, the shots were 12-4, the hits 18-8, and the faceoffs 15-7. ( The Ducks missed 10 shots to the Ducks 4, and the Canucks blocked 5 to 2 against. ) Let's just say the Corsi events were not favouring the visitors in the opening 20 minutes.
The Canucks killed off the rest of the first period penalty, and that is good. Usually, the last little bit of a PK, at the start of a period favours the defenders. The Ducks, of course, won the draw, and got into the offensive zone, and after that, they did the basic power play goal execution to perfection. With Perry screening, and Edler going to him, the puck literally split the two, went off Miller's shoulder, the post, and in on a writer from Fowler. The goalie never saw it, but once again, an early period goal bedevilled the Canucks in this one.
It once again was a trigger for the team to settle down. I mean, sure, the Ducks were all over them. They once again were the better team for most of the period. But the structure got better. The shots were mostly to the outside, and when they weren't the defending was better in their own end.
Some of it. Luca Sbisa did not have a very good period, for one. He had one shift where he was the last man back, and tried two suspect passes that were interrupted. His less than faithful fanbase will probably be all over him. Myself, I just hope it was because the team is exhausted against a team that is not.
And no excuses, if you are getting that impression. I mention the relative tiredness, because sometimes the schedule gives one team an advantage on the other. But we have seen teams defy that all the time as well. The Ducks were simply better through two periods. Hell, most of this period was in the offensive zone for them. How could they not look good?
With two frames done, the shots were now 30-11, the hits 32-17, and the faceoffs were 28-14 for the hime team. The Canucks could take solace from the fact they were only down one after two periods.
So, of course it was the visitors that pushed the play in the third. The Ducks may have been sitting on the lead a bit, but the Cardiac Kids were having none of it. First, it was Baertschi drawing a hooking call on Bieksa. The power play got set up, and did OK, with a Larsen shot going off the post, and several other almost chances getting defended. The Ducks killed off the rest of the penalty, but the Sedins kept the pressure on afterwards, and were rewarded when Henrik Sedin beat Gibson short side for the tying goal.
The Ducks first real pressure of the period came at about the 12 minute mark, and then they took another penalty. It was during this one that you could see the way teams will defend the new power play, as the Ducks sold out to take away Larsen at the point ( BTW , he was really only on the ice for PP time in the third. Might be time for Tryamkin in the next one ). The Sedins ended up being too static, with too many intra brother passes, and they simply killed too much time. Credit the defensive structure, but this power play did not look good.
The winner came shortly afterwards, on a rush by the best Duck line on the night. Getzlaf's shot was saved, but Ritchie banged the rebound out of the air and home for the go ahead goal. That seemed to jolt the Ducks back to life, as they pushed harder in the final period.
It was the fourth goal that sealed it, and it was just weird. Edler stumbled just as Perry was going around him, and as it looked like he was going to dangle across the face of the goal, the puck rolled off his stick and through the five hole of Miller for a goal that he most definitely wants back.
That was it, even though the goalie got pulled, and the Canucks did not quit. No miracle finish tonight boys. Sorry. The final stats sure told the tale. The team that won deserved to, with the Ducks having a 37-19 shots edge, a 37-23 hits edge, and a 37-20 faceoff edge.
So, there will be no more "unbeaten in regulation" streak continuing. That is OK. The guys, against the scheduled difficulties, worked hard and did not give up, but lost to the better team on the night. Get some rest and take it out on the Senators Tuesday fellas.