Ducks give glimpse of the future in 8-2 rout over Canadiens
Max Jones threw his arms out wide and looked up at the Honda Center ceiling.
With only 10.4 seconds remaining in Friday’s contest against the Montreal Canadiens, the Ducks rookie finally registered his first NHL goal in his 17th contest with a wrist shot from the slot off the rush.
He just as easily could have been exhaling for the entire club.
The Ducks’ long-dormant offense — ranked last in the NHL — poured in eight goals with an 8-2 victory over Montreal, their largest margin of victory during this disappointing season. It’s also the first time the Ducks eclipsed the six-goal plateau.
The offensive surge comes just two days after they scored four goals in a heartbreaking loss to the St. Louis Blues. Like that visiting club, the Canadiens are a playoff team at the moment, clawing for precious playoff points, but it was the Ducks who played spoiler.
With the Ducks out of playoff contention, it finally all came together: crisp tape-to-tape passes, smooth puck movement in the offensive zone, and at long last, plenty of lucky puck bounces, the sort that has escaped them most of the season.
Adam Henrique scored two goals and Cam Fowler passed Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer as the franchise leader in points for a defenseman at 265 with an assist on Troy Terry’s second-period goal. The 21-year-old rookie standout dazzled again; he picked up three points and now has six in his last two outings.
“I’m getting some bounces now that I might not have been getting earlier in the season,” said Terry, who assisted on both of Henrique’s goals. “I’m playing with a lot more confidence now. … Every time I got the puck before, I was so rushed … I was overthinking it and I had more time than I realize, I was rushing plays.
“It’s finally just slowing down for me. I’m finally trying to use my ability more and attack people and make more plays.”
Skaters were making plays from all over the ice on this night. All but one goal was scored at even strength, the lone exception Devin Shore’s second-period goal at 3:01. The puck was sitting in the crease with Canadiens goalie Carey Price sprawled out, when Shore jumped in and slammed the puck home.
Rickard Rakell, who has struggled a season after he led the club with 34 goals, ran his point streak to four games with a third-period goal. Daniel Sprong was a healthy scratch Wednesday, but he returned to the top line alongside Ryan Getzlaf and reached double-digit goals with the game’s first score.
Perry, who missed most of the season after undergoing knee surgery, believes this is the best hockey the team has played all season.
“We found a way to play and be in hockey games and compete every single night,” Perry said. “This team, bring the kids in, they have a lot of energy, they have a lot of speed, a lot of skill. They’re starting to be selfish with the puck a little bit, which is a good thing.”
The Ducks once endured a franchise-record 12-game losing streak that began in December and spanned into January. They’re playing for nothing but pride — and maybe even to spoil the postseason hopes of their foes — but the team is finally having fun again, and showing they could be a tough out down the stretch.
“It’s been a tough year certainly. … You never want to be that team that someone thinks they can just come in and win in your building,” Henrique said. “The future is bright here. We gotta keep building, we gotta keep pushing in the right direction.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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