And So It Begins…
The Anaheim Ducks managed a win against the visiting Calgary Flames for game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Anaheim scored the first goal when captain Ryan Getzlaf 52 seconds into the 1st period launched a one-timer past Calgary netminder Brian Elliot. Not too long after, rookie Ondrej Kase would commit a minor penalty via slashing which would see the Flames on the power play that resulted in Calgary tying it up 1-1 when winger Kris Versteeg made an exquisite pass to centermen Sean Monahan who tipped the puck in past goalie John Gibson.
The Second Period
Almost halfway into the 2nd period, Versteeg had done a spin-around feed to the slot enabling centermen Sam Bennett to tip the puck in leading to a 1 goal lead for the Flames. At this point, the momentum was all in Calgary’s favor and the Ducks needed to gain momentum back quickly if they were to stand a chance in coming out of game 1 with the win. The opportunity presented itself for the Ducks when Calgary made a very poor change and defensemen Kevin Bieksa passed the puck all the way down to the Flames defensive zone to Getzlaf which saw the Ducks uncontested in a 3-0 rush to Calgary’s net. Getzlaf shot the puck on net which resulted in a rebound that Rickard Rakell quickly shot back on goal passed Elliot enabling the Ducks to tie it up 2-2. With a little over two minutes remaining in the second, left wing Jakob Silfverberg wristed the puck on net resulting in a goal that had Anaheim back in the lead since the first period.
The Third Period and One John Gibson
Anaheim had put themselves in a very poor situation in the remaining minutes of the third when the Flames had the two-man advantage due to two Ducks’ minor penalties. Gibson absolutely came through for his team at this point and stood on his head, brick-walling the Flames’ offense. His most notable save came when winger Matthew Tkachuk put the puck on net and made a sprawling left pad save as Johnny Gaudreau attempted to hit the rebound in past Gibson. Ryan Kesler managed to block one last shot by the Flames and as he went down for the block on the puck he managed to trap the puck under him and literally sat on the puck eating away precious last seconds of the game. A delay of game was called on Kesler with .9 seconds remaining. Giving the Flames no time to work with leading to a 3-2 win by the Anaheim Ducks.
Flames Key Players
Kris Versteeg was absolutely fantastic for the Flames last night generating Calgary’s offense with two assists. Brian Elliot’s performance cannot be looked passed either as I would venture to say that he was just as good as Gibson last night making some incredible saves to help keep his team in it.
Ducks Key Players
Captain Ryan Getzlaf played like a man on a mission tonight. In everything he did, you can tell he was giving it his all. He notched 1 goal and 1 assist and his defensive play, especially on the PK was spectacular. Though giving up two goals, Gibson was key to Anaheim’s success in game 1. He kept the Flames at bay (most notably in the 3rd) and helped his team walk away with the “W”. Ryan Kesler is definitely worth noting as well as he managed to win 62% of his faceoffs. Also worth noting was his unorthodox but effective sitting on the puck which killed crucial time in the last seconds of the game.
The Ducks squeaked by with this win as I could have easily seen Calgary taking the first game. Both teams need more discipline in regards to not committing unnecessary penalties. I feel both teams are going to go into game two with more awareness of playing a cleaner game. Anaheim needs to work on protecting a lead and building upon it much like they did this season. Game two will be an interesting affair to see as it will be interesting to witness what adjustments will be made by both teams.
You can catch game two at the Honda Center, this Saturday at 10:30 p.m. EST on FS-W, NBCSN, TVA Sports, and CBC.