By Adam Brady
ANAHEIM – With three players out with injuries and two stars contemplating retirement, the Ducks have had to rely on a few rookies to pick up the slack. Tonight against Nashville, two of them led Anaheim to victory.
|Drew Miller scored an important insurance goal in the third, the first of his career.
Ducks netminder J.S. Giguere, in just his second start of the season, was outstanding in saving 28 of 29 shots, constantly putting himself in perfect position to render Nashville shots on goal harmless.
After Nashville’s Ryan Suter scored from the slot 2:27 into the third to tie the game 1-1, Wirtanen’s goal 2:20 later gave the Ducks the lead for good. The 21-year-old neatly tipped the puck to himself in the slot off a blind pass from George Parros. Wirtanen then faked a shot and finally wristed it past helpless Nashville goalie Chris Mason. It was Wirtanen's first game after being called up from minor league affiliate Portland on Monday.
"Waking up this morning, I just tried to take this as a normal game," Wirtanen said. "But of course you’re a little bit nervous and the first couple of shifts, you’re just trying to get your legs going. The chance came and I just put in. It felt awesome."
|Wirtanen's slick move led to the game-winner and the first of his career.
The Ducks got the all-important two-goal cushion with 7:37 left in the third, when rookie Drew Miller scored the one he’ll remember the rest of his career. After Andy McDonald picked up the puck near his own blueline, he sent it to Miller, who deftly tipped the puck ahead and past defenseman Dan Hamuis. Miller found himself with the puck and just Mason in front of him, and he shuttled it between the goalie’s leg pads. It was the first career goal and point for the 23-year-old Miller, who played just three games for the Ducks last season, all of them in the Stanley Cup Final.
"I was outside on the breakway, trying to get some speed going and then I just went five-hole," said Miller, who missed a chance at that first goal earlier in the game. "After I missed that one in the second period, [Petteri] said, ‘I was already standing up, I thought for sure you were going to score’. Then he gets his goal, so I couldn’t let him show me up. I had to get the other one there for my first goal. It’s just nice to get that first one out of the way."
Said head coach Randy Carlyle, "It's nice to see young players score their first goal. It’s a tribute to the scouting staff and our management that were able to find these young players to come in and make a contribution."
The Ducks got off to a sluggish start in the first, at one point facing an 8-1 shots on goal deficit. But they clawed back in the second part of the period, and finally had something to show for it with 20 seconds left. Corey Perry sprung from behind the Nashville net with the puck and fired a wrist shot that flew under the high right corner of the net. Assists on the goal went to Chris Kunitz and Ryan Getzlaf, who with Perry skated on a top line that played exceptionally the entire game.
Neither team found the net in the second, though the Ducks had several near-goals on shots by Perry, Drew Miller and Andy McDonald. But on each, Mason was there to make impressive stops.
One of the few acrobatic saves Giguere had to make came in the second period, when he went behind the net to retrieve a Nashville dump of the puck. It took a bounce right to a Predators player, and Giguere had to dive back into position to make the save.
"He made some quality stops later in the hockey game that provided us with an opportunity to get the go-ahead goal," Carlyle said of Giguere. "Those are the kind of things that you rely on your goalie for and he delivered."
Anaheim was also aided by the fact that they only committed three penalties all night (including a Kunitz fighting major) after skating to the box 11 times in Monday night's victory over Detroit.
The Ducks play at Dallas on Saturday and in St. Louis on Tuesday. They don’t return to Honda Center until Thursday, Oct. 25, when they face Phoenix.
Tonight marked the Ducks’ 38th consecutive sellout (17,174) at Honda Center (26 regular season plus 12 playoff games).
The Ducks have won three-of-four contests at Honda Center this season.
The Ducks improved to 14-1-2 lifetime at home versus
In his NHL debut, Petteri Wirtanen scored his first career NHL goal. He is the ninth player in Ducks history to score a goal in his NHL debut. Bobby Ryan also did so earlier this season (9/29 vs. LA in
Drew Miller also scored his first career NHL goal tonight.
Ryan Getzlaf has earned points in four of the last five games (2-6=8) and has a two-game assist streak (0-4=4).
Kent Huskins has a two-game point streak (1-1=2), his first point streak in the NHL.
Chris Kunitz has recorded 3-3=6 points in the last five games. He also has a two-game point streak (1-2=3).
Corey Perry has a two-game goal streak (2-0=2) and leads the club in goals with five.
J.S. Giguere earned his first win of the season, stopping 28-of-29 shots.
20:00 - END OF GAME - Sean O'Donnell and Sammy Pahlsson pin the puck on the boards behind the Anaheim net for several seconds and the horn eventually sounds. It's a 3-1 victory for the Ducks, who have taken two in a row for the first time this season.
18:50 - Sammy Pahlsson ices the puck and it comes down to another Ducks zone faceoff.
18:37 - The Ducks get called for icing and Mason heads off again with the faceoff in the Ducks zone. Nashville calls timeout. Here's a tidbit from Barry Trotz's speech: "Okay, score two goals in a minute and 23 seconds. Got it? Ready? Okay, good luck out there."
18:29 - After a whistle, the Ducks put Mason back in there.
18:20 - The Preds empty the net.
17:51 - Ryan Getzlaf has it briefly on a breakaway, but it's taken from behind by Suter.
12:23 - ANAHEIM GOAL - DREW MILLER - Andy McDonald picks up the puck near his own blueline and ships it to Miller. The rookie redirects it ahead past Hamhuis and heads up the sheet on a breakaway. His wrister from the slots slips through Mason's pads. Huge insurance goal for the Ducks and it's Miller's first of his career. It's 3-1 Anaheim.
10:45 - A Dan Hamhuis shot bounces off the back boards and lofts right into the crease, but Giguere watches it the whole way and flcks it away like an annoying housefly.
7:22 - ANA and NSH Penalties - ANA Chris Kunitz and NSH Marek Zidlicky, 5 min. each fighting. Kunitz and Zidlicky tangle behind the net after a Getzlaf shot is saved and frozen. Kunitz starts wildly throwing punches at Zidlicky, who initially threw a punch, but quickly covers his face with both gloves while Kunitz continues to wail on him. They each get 5 for fighting, but Kunitz clearly did more of it.
6:38 - David Legwand gets loose ahead of the defense, skates in and shoots a wrister that Giguere blocks. But the rebound bounces to Martin Gelinas in the slot, whose putback try luckily looks to hit Giguere in the back of the skate. A big break for Anaheim.
4:47 - ANAHEIM GOAL - PETTERI WIRTANEN - George Parros makes a blind pass from the right wing to Wirtanen in the slot. Wirtanen neatly tips the puck to himself around Greg de Vries, recovers it, fakes a shot and then finally wrists it past a helpless Mason. It's the first goal in Wirtanen's career, but on this one, he looks like he's scored hundreds. The Parros assist is also his first point of the season. It's 2-1 Ducks.
3:54 - Getzlaf makes a feed to Kunitz on the left wing, who slides it across the crease to Perry. Perry has a shot at a wide open net, but the puck bounces under his stick. Huge break for Nashville.
3:24 - Francois Beauchemin puts one on net from the blueline that Mason saves. Andy McDonald comes charging for a possible rebound, but Mason picks it up like a junior higher playing keepaway from his little brother.
2:24 - NASHVILLE GOAL - RYAN SUTER - Alexander Radulov retrieves the puck behind the Ducks net, then slips a great pass to Suter in the slot, who one-times it past Giguere. It's Suter's first of the year and we're tied 1-1.
So, we're still playing "Start Me Up" by the Stones before faceoffs. Think we'll still be doing that 20 years from now?
0:00 - We're back at it in the third. This game is cruising along, partly because we've only had four penalties combined. Monday night against Detroit, there were 24 combined.
During the intermission, they show tonight's two videos for the What Would You Do For a Honda Ridgeline contest, and both videos get mediocre response from the fans asked to vote based on cheers. So, PA Announcer Phil Hullett changes it to the video that gets the most noise (i.e. boos) LOSES. Video No. 1 gets less boos and wins! And here's the lesson here, folks. If you think these videos stink, enter the contest yourself! We're talking about 30 seconds to win a new car for heaven's sake. Here's the link.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The Ducks have little trouble keeping the Preds at bay during the power play and the horn sounds with 22 seconds left in it for Nashville. The Ducks skate hard and have a few chances during a fun-filled second period in which both teams go scoreless. It's still 1-0 Ducks as we go into the break.
18:21 - ANA Penalty - Chris Pronger, 2 min. hooking. Pronger wraps the stick blade around a Preds forward in the slot.
17:29 - This stat just went up on the video board: The Ducks are 48-12-12 in their last 72 games at Honda Center. Incredible.
I just got this email from a fan named Forest from South Orange County who is in Barcelona visiting friends:
Thanks for all of the work you're doing with the blog as well as the live game post. I’m in Barcelona right now, it's nearing 5 am and me and my friends are still up in a bar underneath our flat. We connected the laptop to one of the screens in the bar, and now the entire bar has to deal with us cheering for Corey Perry's last goal.
Anyway, thanks a lot and hopefully we don’t go to shootouts. I'd like to go to bed before the sun comes up.
14:25 - Miller makes a nice pass to a waiting Pahlsson in the slot, but Sammy's one-timer is kicked away.
13:27 - A hard Corey Perry shot from the left circle is barely saved by Mason, and met with an "Ohhhhh!" from the crowd.
10:50 - A nice drop pass from Jason Arnott to Ryan Suter results in a nice Suter shot from the slot, but Giguere easily shoos it away.
8:59 - Alexander Radulov does a nice job to deflect a Martin Erat shot in front, but again Giguere is in perfect position to make the save and hold it.
8:10 - Giguere goes behind the net to grab a puck behind the boards, but it bounces right to a Preds player and Giguere has to dive back into position to make a huge save.
6:59 - ANA Penalty - Joe DiPenta, 2 min. delay of game. DiPenta sends it over the glass. It was an accident, but it certainly doesn't matter.
Later in the timeout, the video board shows two teen girls wearing Ducks jerseys. One of them looks pleased and points to her bag of chips and gives the camera a thumbs up. Not sure why.
Ken from Palmdale gets this trivia question at the timeout. What is the seating capacity at Honda Center? As the crowd yells out the answer, he takes C.) 17,174 and he's exactly right! Bonus question: How many consecutive sellouts have the Ducks had from last season to now? He guesses 15 and he's WAY OFF! It's 37.
5:50 - Moen comes from behind the net, spins and shoots, but Mason makes a kick save near the left post.
4:57 - In a Wild sequence, Miller fires a shot from the slot that Mason saves, Miller gets the loose puck off the rebound, turns and fires again, but Mason stops that. The rebound comes off to McDonald in the corner, who puts it on net, but Mason blocks it then dives on a spinning puck in the crease.
4:08 - Moen, skating down left wing, tries to lead linemate Niedermayer with a pass, but Mason slides out to thwart it.
2:56 - May-Wirtanen-Parros out there now.
1:02 - It's Mowers-McDonald-Miller now. Just think, if this line lasts, we can call them the M&M&M boys. Maybe not.
0:10 - The Ducks come out with the Moen-Pahlsson-Niedermayer line.
0:00 - We're off and running in the second, the Ducks clinging to a 1-0 cushion.
I have to say, the little kids on the ice during the intermission taking turns doing shootouts is freakin' adorable.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - A late goal by Corey Perry caps off a second half of the period in which the Ducks came on following a slightly slow start. It's 1-0 Ducks and they cut a shots on goal deficit that was 8-1 Predators early on and is now just 11-9 Nashville.
19:40 - ANAHEIM GOAL - COREY PERRY - Told ya! Perry holds the puck behind the Preds net, then dashes out with it and fires a wrister from the left side that dents the net in the top right corner. It's the fifth of the year for Perry and the assists go to linemates Kunitz and Getzlaf. It's 1-0 Ducks.
19:10 - The Kunitz-Perry-Getzlaf line is looking good tonight. Look for something from them soon.
16:05 - Francois Beauchemin's slapper from the point gets through everybody, except Mason's leg pads.
12:31 - NSH Penalty - Greg de Vries, 2 min. interference. The Ducks go on the PP, where they're 0-1 tonight. They were 2-11 in their win over Detroit on Monday night.
10:25 - Ryan Getzlaf deftly tries to redirect it in front, but Mason makes a nice save.
8:55 - Jordin Tootoo tries to redirect the puck in front, but Giguere makes a save simply with good positioning.
During the timeout, they do the traditional Delta First Class Upgrade where they move a fan from upstairs to seats near the glass. A fan emailed me recently saying he thinks it would be funny if they had the people trade with someone sitting down below and then send those season seat holders upstairs. I like that idea, just to see their enraged reactions on the video board..
6:29 - The Ducks kill a rush by jumping offside for the second time tonight. As we go into the timeout, the Preds are outshooting the Ducks, 8-1.
5:10 - A soft Nashville shot from deep in the right corner gets behind Giguere and sits tantalizingly in the blue paint before it's scooped out by Shane Hnidy.
Did you know when the Ducks score on a power play you can bring your ticket stub to any First Class Pizza location and receive a free Cinna-Za? Fantastic.
2:57 - Scary moment as Rob Niedermayer fires a shot from the left circle that Mason saves, then Niedermayer goes slamming head first into the boards. He stays down for awhile, but now he's up and skates off on his own.
0:07 - NSH Penalty - Scott Nichol, 2 min. interference. Early power play for the Ducks.
0:00 - And we're underway as the Ducks look for two in a row.
Starting Goaltenders: ANA J.S. Giguere; NSH Chris Mason
Starting Skaters: ANA Jonas Hiller, Corey Perry, Chris Kunitz, Ryan Getzlaf, Sean O'Donnell, Chris Pronger; NSH Dan Hamhuis, Greg Zanon, Scott Nichol, Jason Arnott, J.P. Dumont
Scratches: ANA Maxim Kondratiev, Todd Marchant; NSH Jed Ortmeyer
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