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VIDEO: Ducks Fall Flat In Toronto
By Julius Choi
The Anaheim Ducks played the second of its five-game road trip against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night but fell short, losing 6-1. This marked the second time these two clubs have met this season, with Toronto sneaking past Anaheim in a 2-1 overtime win on Nov. 17, 2018. The Ducks are now on a four-game losing streak, being outscored by opponents 23-5 during that stretch. Ryan Kesler was inserted back into the lineup after missing the last five games due to a lower-body injury sustained in a Jan. 15 game versus the Detroit Red Wings.
The Anaheim Ducks are notorious for not generating enough shots on goal on offense as evident by its league-worst 27.1 shots per game. This leads to the team being severely outshot by opponents in games and Monday’s game versus the Maple Leafs was no different. Toronto outshot Anaheim 8-2 just nine minutes into the game and rounded out the period with a 13-8 advantage in that department. While the team was outplayed, there was no shortage of chances for Anaheim to pull in front. With two minutes left, Leafs forward Zach Hyman was called for a hooking penalty on Corey Perry. A penalty being called against Toronto was a sight to behold as they are the least penalized team in the NHL. However, errant passes and the Maple Leafs formidable forechecking on the penalty killing prevented Anaheim from mustering any shots to trouble goaltender Frederik Andersen.
The continued pressure by the Toronto Maple Leafs paid dividends as they broke the stalemate when center John Tavares ripped a screamer past John Gibson from the left face-off circle just three minutes into the middle frame. The tally was the Mississauga, Ontario native’s 31st goal of the season which marks the fifth time during his 10-year career where he has reached the 30-goal milestone. Then with six minutes left to play, Andreas Johnsson rebounded the initial shot on goal by defenseman Jake Muzzin, corralled the puck on his backhand and lifted it past the extended reach of Gibson to double the lead. The Ducks could have cut the deficit in half as the period was winding down when Jakob Silfverberg found himself in a good position in the slot right in front of Andersen but airmailed it up to the rafters. And to add insult to injury, Toronto scored its third unanswered goal with three seconds left on the game clock while on the power play. Newly acquired defenseman Jake Muzzin blasted a shot from the point to register his first point with his new club.
The Ducks seemed to be rejuvenated in the first few minutes of both the second and third period which enabled the Ducks to get on the board on Rickard Rakell’s 9th goal of the season. Hampus Lindholm led the zone rush and waltzed his way into the slot before whipping a pass to Rakell who was joining the play on the right side and elected to aim for the far side of the net. But this is where any hope of nabbing two points was dashed. Toronto’s William Nylander wired a pass to a net-crashing Connor Brown for a tap-in goal that reestablished the three-goal cushion just about 30 seconds after Rakell’s tally. The onslaught on offense continued as Nylander scored to expand the Leafs lead to 5-1, Anaheim goaltender John Gibson was relieved of his duties by Chad Johnson. Gibson has been pulled out of the net for the third consecutive game in games he was given the starting nod.
Toronto’s speed advantage was evident right off the opening face-off and the Ducks decided to counter this by incorporating physical play. As a result, Anaheim registered 36 hits on the night and it seemed to be working for the first twenty minutes of the game as the Leafs failed to score. Anaheim neutralized Auston Matthews, keeping him off the score sheet. But this is where Toronto’s scoring depth shined. With most of the Ducks’ attention being on Matthews, this lifted the pressure off Toronto’s other players. This played a role in Andreas Johnsson scoring two goals and four points. In terms of offense, although Anaheim produced 25 shots on goal, none of them were challenging for Andersen to stop. The majority of the shots were not optimal scoring chances as most of the pucks were fired from distance and not at close range where shots can be screened. The Ducks resume their trip through Canada on Tuesday to face the Montreal Canadiens.
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