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Comeback Kids Do It Again
By Al Negrete
The short-handed Anaheim Ducks (8-6-0) came to visit The Nashville Predators (5-9-0), looking to continue their great early start to the season. John Gibson was in net against Juuse Saros for Nashville. The Ducks were without Trevor Zegras (lower-body injury) and Leo Carlsson was a healthy scratch.
Early in the first, the Ducks had to depend on John Gibson often. Mason McTavish took a penalty early giving Nashville the opportunity to strike first. Even though the Predators had an advantage there was actually an early chance for the Anaheim Ducks with a great center feed to Frank Vatrano shorthanded, saved by Saros. Big penalty kill to start the game giving Anaheim a bit of momentum after the kill though didn’t do much with it except keep the puck out of their own net which within itself is a victory. Midway through the first period, Urho Vaakanainen took a holding penalty on a team who easily can be seen as unprepared. Fortunately the Ducks or specifically Gibson was able to kill the penalty since a great portion of the kill was inside the Ducks zone in the slot area. Nashville’s Carrier took a boarding minor, finally giving Anaheim a chance to breathe. That’s exactly what Anaheim did, breathe on that power play as it was not the best power play one would ever see. Nashville gets one last crack on the power play for the first period late, with a penalty from Jackson LaCombe for holding with 1:11 left in the first. From the Ducks point of view that’s a good penalty because he surely saved a goal in committing that penalty. The first period ended with the only advantage being the SOG total with it being in Nashville’s favor 11-5.
Second period started with a successful kill on special teams, unfortunately all it does is give Nashville control of the puck well after the power play letting Filip Forsberg first bat the puck in the air in front of Gibson. The baseball swing results with the puck inside the back of the net and Nashville is up 1-0. The Ducks tried to get some offense going as Max Jones shot a puck at 92 mph, but overall the Ducks weren’t looking good with only a very small sprinkle of great chances. A rare 2-on-1 opportunity for the Ducks was shut down by Saros and two more chances were both stopped by Saros. With both those chances Nashville was forced to take a penalty to calm the game down, fortunately for Nashville nothing seemed to be going right for Anaheim offensively all game.
Tempers flared in the middle of the second period as Radko Gudas and Jeremy Lauzon dropped the gloves. Both got five minutes for fighting and Ryan Strome took a penalty for cross checking. After it was all said and done, Nashville had a power play and scored to make it a 2-0 lead.
The Ducks showed some life towards the end of the period. A cross-ice pass found Cam Fowler on the opposite side where he was able to snip the puck into the net glove side. Ducks were down 2-1 after two periods of play.
The third period started with minutes of back and forth hockey. Radko Gudas went unchecked from his own red line to the Nashville zone and got a feed timing it straight into the net for a game tying goal. He was able to get open and have time to shoot it, which was a rare offensive opportunity. After some more middle zone back and forth hockey, Alex Killorn took a penalty for holding, giving an advantage to Nashville. During the power play there was a moment where Gibson was shaken up by a 81 mph wrister by Forsberg, but fortunately it was something he could shake off. The penalty was killed off with the help of Gudas blocking a shot with his ankle. He appeared visibly hurt and had to take a walk to the locker room where the trainers looked at him. He would return and be a factor in the game winning goal.
With just less than five minutes left the Ducks would take the lead. Gudas made a fake slap shot and passed the puck to Vaakanainen where he sniped it right under the crossbar from the blue line. The goal was later credited to Adam Henrique as a tip in scorel. Anaheim led it 3-2 and got a power play with three minutes left in the third. The powerplay was unsuccessful and Nashville pulled their goalie for an empty net with less than a minute left in the game. Ducks were cornered for a bit then cleared it wasting time. There was less than 20 seconds left as they looked for their first win over Nashville for the first time in seven games. Pandemonium in the final seconds as Gibson does the swim in the crease hoping the puck is under him, fortunately Gudas finds the puck in the closing seconds and Anaheim holds on to win!
The Ducks became the first team in NHL history to record six third period comeback wins in their first 15 games of the season.
Gudas scored a Gordie Howe hat trick(goal, assist, and fight).
The Ducks travel to Colorado and take on the Avs at 6PM today.
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November 15th, 2023