By Adam Brady
ANAHEIM – He’s won a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal, and captains the top team in the NHL. But there is one thing Ryan Getzlaf hadn’t done before tonight – record a hat trick.
Getzlaf took care of that early in this one, scoring three in the first period to help his Ducks rout the visiting Buffalo Sabres, 6-2 at Honda Center. It was the seventh straight win at home for the Ducks, gave them a 7-0-1 record in their last eight games and helped them hold onto the best record in the league (14-3-1). The Sabres remained at the other end of the spectrum, 30th in the league with a 3-15-1 mark.
Getzlaf’s hat trick marked the fifth time in club history a player scored three goals in a single period, the second time it happened in the first period (also Teemu Selanne on November 10, 1997 vs. San Jose). Those three scores, and the second in as many games for Cam Fowler, gave Anaheim an early 4-1 lead, and it never looked back.
"They’ve been outscored a lot in the first, so that was a key to winning this game," said Frederik Andersen, who improved to 5-0-0 on the season. "Coming back hard every time, and trying to make a push early. It paid off today. Credit to Getz for three goals."
The captain opened the scoring 2:11 into the game with the Ducks on the power play, as Fowler’s slap shot ricocheted off the chest of goalie Ryan Miller and Getzlaf punched in the rebound.
"They were really dominant tonight," said head coach Bruce Boudreau, on the Penner-Getzlaf-Perry line. "There was no doubt. You could tell, as soon as he started his skating, that Ryan was great. When we got the power-play goal early, it was because he did something he doesn’t normally do, which is jump right into the play after a shot.
"As soon as he did that, I said ‘Ok, he’s going to have a good game.’ Consequently, he got four points in the first period."
Anaheim’s once-struggling power play scored a second straight with the man advantage midway through the period, as Fowler slung a wrist shot from the right point that hit a Buffalo defender before sneaking through.
After Buffalo cut into the lead on the first of two Mikhail Grigorenko goals, Getzlaf got his second at 16:29. A Buffalo clearing attempt took a bad hop off the glass, and Getzlaf jumped on the loose puck in the right wing circle before whipping it past Miller.
He got his third with 19.3 left in the period, setting up in front of the net before taking a pass from Dustin Penner and backhanding it around Miller, causing hats to rain down on the ice from the home crowd.
"Perry and Pens [Dustin Penner] made a nice play and I was all alone in front of the net," said Getzlaf. "I just kind of wrapped it around and was able to get it by him."
Penner got one of his own just under five minutes into the second period, as a Corey Perry shot from the wing rebounded off Miller, and Penner backhanded it into the wide open right half of the net. Penner’s four points were his most in a Ducks uniform.
A few minutes after Grigorenko’s second of the evening, Andrew Cogliano notched Anaheim’s sixth goal, as rookie Rickard Rakell gave him a nice spinning backhand pass into the crease, and Cogliano banged it home. It was the first career point for Rakell, a 2011 first-round pick by the Ducks.
The Ducks will look to keep it going Sunday night against new Pacific Division rival Vancouver at Honda Center.
Anaheim’s league-leading 14-3-1 (29 points) start is just one point shy of the club record for standings points through 18 games (30 points, 2006-07). The Ducks’ 62 goals this season represents a franchise record through 18 games. The previous mark was 60 through 18 games in 2012-13 and 2006-07.
Anaheim’s eight-game standings point streak (7-0-1) is the longest current streak in the NHL. In addition, the club’s four-game winning streak (4-0-0) is tied with Washington for the league’s longest active win streak.
The Ducks are 7-0-0 at Honda Center this season, the best HOME start in club history (prior to the start of the season, the club never won more than two straight at home). The Ducks are the only NHL club with a perfect start at HOME this season. The last NHL team to start a season with a perfect 7-0-0 HOME record was Los Angeles in 2010-11 (8-0-0). In addition, the club has outscored its opposition 32-12 in those seven contests.
The Ducks have scored 32 goals through the first seven HOME contests, matching the most through seven in club history (also 32 in 1995-96). The club has allowed just 12 goals against its opponents at HOME, the second-fewest allowed to start a season at HOME in franchise history (fewest 11, 2007-08).
Ryan Getzlaf's first-period hat trick is the fifth time in club history a player has scored three goals in a single period. It's the second time it has happened in a FIRST period (last: Teemu Selanne on Nov. 10, 1997 vs. San Jose). It was also the fifth time a Ducks player has recorded four points in a single period (last: Vinny Prospal on Jan. 23, 2004 vs. Minnesota). Getzlaf, whose hat trick was the first of his career, has earned 7-6=13 points with a +10 rating over the last eight games. His team-leading 10-12=22 points this season rank tied for second in the NHL.
With a goal and a career-tying three assists (fourth time), Dustin Penner has recorded his first four-point game since Dec. 11 2009 w/Edmonton vs. St. Louis (his career high is five points on Oct. 22, 2009 w/Edmonton vs. Columbus). It is also the most points Penner has scored as a member of the Anaheim Ducks. Penner, who is riding a career-high five-game assist streak (1-7=8), leads the NHL with a +18 rating on the season (+3 tonight). His +18 rating through his first 11 games this season is the highest by any NHL player since Pittsburgh’s Sergei Zubov was +18 through his first 11 games in 1995-96 (from start of season). Anaheim is 10-0-1 with Penner in the lineup.
Teemu Selanne appeared in his 1,400th career NHL game tonight, joining Nicklas Lidstrom and Jaromir Jagr as the only European-born NHL players to reach the 1,400-game plateau (33rd in NHL history).
Frederik Andersen became the first goaltender to win his first five NHL games since November, 2005 (San Jose’s Nolan Schaefer), and the only ACTIVE goaltender to do so. Andersen is also the first netminder in club history to win his first five NHL games (Viktor Fasth won his first eight DECISIONS last year). Among all NHL goalies, Andersen ranks third in GAA (1.50) and tied for third in SV% (.947). Among rookies, he leads in wins, GAA, SV% and appearances. (min. 3 games).
Corey Perry extended his point streak to four games (4-2=6) with his third multi-assist game of the season (0-2=2). Perry has 5-5=10 points with a +10 rating over the last eight contests.
Tonight’s attendance was 15,577.