What we learned from the Ducks’ 2-1 victory over Minnesota:
Roller-coaster ride to win
It’s more an affirmation than a lesson, but the Ducks again showed how inconsistent they can be.
The team that gave the puck away countless times in a 6-3 loss at Calgary on Wednesday and lost three straight games in regulation for the first time this season was poised, determined and resolute in a tense 2-1 victory at Minnesota’s Xcel Energy Center. Defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who scored the Ducks’ first goal Friday, said players had talked about the urgency of tightening up defensively and bearing down.
“It was huge. Huge,” he said after Friday’s win. “Especially the way the last three games have been going, on the wrong side of it. I can’t remember the last time we lost three in a row, so that one tonight feels really good for our confidence. It’s always a hard building to play in as well. Their fans are really good and their team is coming out really strong and fast and they’re on top of you all the time. We needed to move those pucks quick and I think we did a good job.”
Next challenge: Do this again. And again. And again.
Contributions continue to grow
Jakob Silfverberg is more than a money-in-the-bank shootout specialist.
The Swedish right wing seemed to be having the worst luck when presented with scoring chances, but he kept his spot in the lineup because Coach Bruce Boudreau valued his intelligence and defensive skills. On Friday he reached a career-high with his 11th goal, a modest total, certainly, but he has become more confident and productive with 33 points and a plus-11 defensive rating. A good part of that is the chemistry he seems to have with center Ryan Kesler, but a lot of it is his persistence.
“I would like to have scored more than 11 goals but I was struggling quite a bit the first half of the season,” said Silfverberg, who was acquired from Ottawa in the Bobby Ryan trade.
“Lately I’ve been getting a lot of confidence from Bruce, been seeing a lot of minutes out there, and that’s been helping a lot. And especially putting the puck in helps too. It’s a lot of fun and I feel like as I get the chances I have a good chance of putting the puck in. I try not to think too much about it. Like tonight, the puck comes right at me and I don’t think, I put my stick there and it goes into the net. A couple more of those bounces and it could turn out good for coming into the playoffs.”
Ryan Kesler is doing everything the Ducks envisioned when they acquired him, and more.
They traded for Kesler from Vancouver so they could compete with the other big centers in the West and take some of the scoring burden off Ryan Getzlaf. He’s doing that and leading in some of the gritty areas, too. On Friday he assisted on both goals while playing 20 minutes and 13 seconds, second among the Ducks’ forwards. He has also helped make Silfverberg a more complete player.
“He’s one of the top players in the league and he’s so smart out there,” Silfverberg said. “He doesn’t always make those nice and flashy moves, but he always makes the right play. At the end of the day the right play is going to get you goals and we saw that tonight.
"He gets two assists from two great plays which maybe isn’t as flashy but it’s the right play and he keeps doing that throughout the season and it’s good to watch. He’s a great role model.”