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Ducks Get Down Early, Lose 6-3 To Pens
By Michael Walters
The Anaheim Ducks returned home to face the Pittsburgh Penguins. Anaheim was riding a five game point streak where the Ducks earned 9 out of a possible 10 points.
John Gibson got the start in net, but the Ducks would be without Anthony Stolarz and Troy Terry. Stolarz had a lower body injury and Olle Eriksson Ek was recalled as a result. Terry was placed on the IR after receiving a hard check to the midsection in the game against Dallas.
The Penguins opened up the scoring about nine minutes into this one. After a turnover in the Ducks zone, Teddy Blueger got the puck behind the Anaheim net and fond Pierre-Olivier Joseph in the slot. He took a shot through traffic which hit the post and went in.
The Ducks answered back with a power play goal by Trevor Zegras. Adam Henrique took a faceoff and chipped the puck to Zegras, who all in one motion flipped the puck past Casey DeSmith over his shoulder.
Things then got away from Anaheim as Pittsburgh was able to score to late scores in the period to take a 3-1 lead. Kasperi Kapanen scored on the power play after his pass was deflected by Simon Benoit‘s stick. Unfortunate break for the Ducks as Benoit disrupts the pass attempt, but then the puck redirects past Gibson.
Jeff Carter then added a goal in the final seconds of the period. Gibson went behind the net to get the puck and then he attempted to pass Cam Fowler, but the puck ended up being turned over. Gibson sprawled back to the net, but Carter shot the puck high over him for the score.
There were no penalties in the second period and no scoring until late in the period. The Ducks turned over the puck in their own end with about five minutes left in the period. The puck ended up on Joseph’s stick and he scored from the slot to make it a 4-1 game at the end of two periods.
The Penguins continued to attack and added two more goals in the third period in a span of about two minutes. First Bryan Rust got the puck down low and was able to backhand it past Gibson for the score. Then a Ducks turnover in their own zone lead to a goal by Jake Guentzal and the Pens lead 6-1.
The Ducks did fight back and scored a few goals. Mason McTavish got the puck in the slot and beat DeSmith high glove side. A couple minutes later and John Klingberg scored, also beating DeSmith on his glove side to make it a 6-3 game. That’s as close as Anaheim would get, as they didn’t score again.
The Ducks found themselves in a tie game late in the first period, but things then started to unravel as they gave up two goals late, which gave the Penguins all the momentum they needed. Anaheim was able to hang around in the second period, but then Pittsburgh really put things out of reach in the third period.
A big issue for the Ducks in this game was turnovers. Four of the Penguins goals were the direct result of turnovers by the Ducks. Another concern was the amount of shots Anaheim gave up in this one. The Penguins had 77 shot attempts in this game and 59 shots on goal. This has been an issue all season as the Ducks lead the league in shots against averaging 39.1 a game.
The Ducks did show some fight at the end instead of just giving up, which was a positive sign. Too bad it was too little too late. The team continues to experience the growing pains that come from the rebuild territory this season.
Gibson set a franchise record for saves in a game with 53. He held the previous record of 52 from last season.
The Ducks face the Golden Knights in Vegas Sunday at noon.
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February 11th, 2023