By Adam Brady
ANAHEIM – One of the few weaknesses of last year’s Ducks squad was a surprising lack of production on the power play. So far in 2014-15, that doesn’t appear to be an issue.
The Ducks scored two early man advantage goals and added two more at even strength in rolling to a seventh straight victory, 4-1 over the visiting Blue Jackets at Honda Center.
The Ducks, who were 22nd in the league in power-play percentage last season, now have eight power-play goals in eight games. Columbus, meanwhile, came into the game having killed 15 of 16 man advantage opportunities and hadn’t given up a power-play goal this season until last night in San Jose.
At the other end, the Ducks defense limited Columbus to just 17 shots, and young netminder John Gibson denied 16 of them to earn his first win of the season.
Anaheim lost its season opener and has bounced back to win seven straight, which is exactly what they did last season in charging to the best record in the Western Conference.
"We’re trying to take the same approach," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who sealed the game with a late empty-netter. "Sometimes we’ve played well and won games, and sometimes we haven’t played well. It’s nice to put a couple of good games together where we’ve played some good opponents and felt like we rose to the occasion."
The Ducks jumped in front 2-0 on a pair of power-play goals in the first 8 1/2 minutes of the game. The first came from (who else?) Corey Perry, who got a feed from Sami Vatanen, slithered around goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and backhanded it home while toppling to the ice.
It was a league-leading ninth goal for Perry, who two nights ago became the fastest in Ducks history to get to eight.
Vatanen came through later, ripping a slap shot past a Perry screen for his third of the season (all on the power play).
The Jackets got their only goal with six minutes left in the period when a Scott Hartnell one-timer fluttered in the air off Gibson and was knocked in off the body of defenseman Hampus Lindhom. "We’ve been playing well lately," Gibson said. "We’ve been keeping the shots down, so it makes Freddie’s [Frederik Andersen] job and my job a lot easier."
Anaheim regained a two-goal lead on a pretty play from the top line 13 minutes into the second. Getzlaf threaded a pass across the rink to Perry, who delivered it in front to Devante Smith-Pelly for the nice tap-in that snuck under Bobrovsky.
The Ducks put the game away with 2:27 left and the Blue Jackets’ net empty, as Andrew Cogliano got control of the puck in the Columbus end and fed Getzlaf, who easily wristed it in from the slot.
"We had more of a complete game than we’ve played in a while," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "We talked about it for the past couple of days. They beared down. We knew we were playing a really good team, so we had to play for 60 minutes."
The Ducks look to make it eight straight in a Sunday test against division rival San Jose back at Honda Center.