Concern was raised a notch for the Ducks before the puck even was dropped Wednesday.
Goalie John Gibson was scratched because of a lower-body injury, and though his status is day to day, the Ducks recalled Jhonas Enroth to back up Jonathan Bernier.
Add in the Boston Bruins’ tenacious attack, and it made for an intense game of near misses and little plays, often measured in inches.
Bernier turned in an amazing save in the second period, and Rickard Rakell’s second goal of the game made the Ducks winners, 5-3, at Honda Center.
“[Boston’s Brad] Mar- chand made a good pass back door and I was expecting for him to shoot quick because he was right in the slot,” Bernier said. “It was just one of those saves where [it] was a desperate save and [you] find a way just to get something in front of it.”
Rickard’s team-leading 24th goal came with 2 minutes 34 seconds remaining. He tapped in Corey Perry’s missed attempt that squirted to him on the right side, and the Ducks earned two days off to get Gibson rested for Saturday’s matchup against the Kings.
“The puck ended up on my stick. I got a little bit surprised, but it was nice to see it go in,” Rakell said.
Bernier’s outstretched save with the paddle of his stick robbed Patrice Bergeron at the goal line in the second period, but Boston’s Frank Vatrano beat him on a breakaway with 8:25 remaining in regulation to tie it, 3-3.
The Ducks were set for victory on three second-period goals, the last by defenseman Josh Manson. And the line of Ryan Getzlaf, Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase combined for a goal and four assists in an offensive outbreak for the Ducks in their highest goal total in seven games.
With five goals scored in their previous four games, the Ducks recalled left wing Nic Kerdiles, an Irvine product who made his NHL debut. He is the first Orange County-raised player to play for the franchise, five years after he was drafted in 2012.
But scoring wasn’t an issue in the second period.
Rakell made it 2-2 with a bit of luck. Boston goalie Tuukka Rask actually kicked in the puck after Rakell’s shot trickled past him. But Perry made the chance possible when he nudged the puck to Rakell as Perry was checked.
Kase scored his first goal in 19 games with a snap shot of Ritchie’s return feed on a give-and-go.
“It was nice to get the bounces tonight,” Rakell said. “We’ve been having a tough time the last couple of games to get something going, so for sure, it was nice that we were able to help the team tonight.
Kerdiles still beamed when he met reporters in the morning as his journey neared fruition. He was born in Texas but grew up locally and attended the 2007 Stanley Cup Final at Honda Center. His path to the NHL was set back by a concussion history, the latest injury coming in a rookie game in September that kept him out for most of this season.
That made his recall sweeter, and he immediately called his family.
“They were so happy,” Kerdiles said. “It was just kind of like a big pressure off all our shoulders because they know how bad I wanted this opportunity. For it to happen, they were just as excited as I was.”
Kerdiles, 23, has played only 10 games with the San Diego Gulls this season after his second concussion in two seasons. He admitted he was discouraged at the time.
That was contrasted with the phone call he got from Gulls General Manager Bob Ferguson. The two have a running exchange about wearing a baseball cap forward because it represents forward movement in his career. They joked about it just before his recall.
“I left the rink and he called me a minute later and said, ‘What direction’s your hat right now?’” Kerdiles said.
Kerdiles told him “forward” as he backtracked to the arena to retrieve his gear.
“I remember getting the chills and just being really happy,” he said. “I made a U-turn illegally and just got right back to the rink.”