The undisciplined play, the missed passes and the disjointed flow of the early season washed away like a good rain for the Ducks.
It took more than four games, but they’ve resembled more the outfit they’d like to be, and it came with the bells and whistles of a home opener in Sunday’s 4-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks.
Their forecheck was strong and everyone contributed. Defenseman Cam Fowler continued a hot start, Ryan Getzlaf assisted on three goals and Nick Ritchie and Corey Perry put it away with third-period goals.
The Ducks have won two straight following a 0-3-1 start.
“I think that we’ve been building,” Getzlaf said.
Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle put out the caveat that it came against a team that played the second of a back-to-back set and its sixth game in nine days, four of which that went to overtime. But he sees parts coming together.
“We had our mentality of going to work tonight, and it showed in all three periods,” Carlyle said. “We wanted to make sure we applied as much pressure as we possibly could in all areas of the ice.”
Carlyle could match lines for the first time this season and he had Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg shadow Vancouver’s Henrik and Daniel Sedin. They kept the twins quiet until the third period, when Henrik Sedin took a feed from Loui Eriksson and shot a puck that trickled through traffic to tie it 2-2.
“That’s big,” Ritchie said. “It’s encouraging that I’m going to stay in there. Tonight was good for that, and hopefully in the next game we can keep it rolling.”
Fowler is off to the best start of his career with three goals and five points. His second-period power-play goal came on a wrist shot with Perry screening Vancouver goalie Ryan Miller. It made up for Fowler’s turnover that led to Bo Horvat’s short-handed breakaway goal late in the first period.
The Ducks otherwise came out on the attack and did not allow a shot in the opening 12 minutes. Cogliano kept the pregame energy going with a goal 33 seconds into the game when he finished a three-on-two rush unlikely led by defenseman Josh Manson.
Joseph Cramarossa made his NHL debut, on the fourth line, and it hit him during introductions with Honda Center lighted by fans’ smartphones.
“Just seeing all those lights, I was just sitting [and] thinking to myself how long I’ve waited for this,” Cramarossa said. “It was just amazing and I know that everyone back home [in Toronto] was sharing that with me.”
Despres on IR
The Ducks put defenseman Simon Despres on long-term injured reserve with concussion symptoms, meaning he will miss at least 10 games. The move, first reported by TSN, could eventually free up salary-cap space for Anaheim to re-sign defenseman Hampus Lindholm.
But Despres would have to miss significant time in order for his $3.7-million salary to come off Anaheim’s books long term, and the Ducks have to free up more money anyway.
Lindholm reportedly seeks an extension worth about $5.5 million per season. His agent, Claude Lemieux, said in a text message Sunday that the sides have not made any progress in over a week.