The second iteration of life after Randy Carlyle is off to an auspicious start in Anaheim.
Ducks general manager Bob Murray is manning the bench for the remainder of the season after he fired Carlyle on Sunday, and he’s undefeated in his coaching career. The 64-year-old made his NHL coaching debut Wednesday in a 1-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Honda Center.
The goals still aren’t coming, and the Ducks were still outperformed in the shot department, but they have a win on home ice for the first time in 2019 and their first since Dec. 12.
Kevin Boyle delivered a 35-save shutout in his first NHL start. The long-time minor-leaguer finally received the call with injuries to John Gibson and Ryan Miller and fulfilled a lifelong dream at 26.
Boyle put his hands on his mask as the final horn sounded, and the bench emptied to indulge in the victory, surely a weight lifted off their backs after a tumultuous season that sunk them to the bottom of the Western Conference.
“To be able to just come out here and get a win in the first game — I can’t even describe it,” said Boyle, who made his NHL debut in a relief effort against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
The win ends a seven-game losing streak, a run of defeats that spelled the end for Carlyle in Anaheim for the second and likely final time. With change came renewed energy. It was apparent in the way the Ducks’ forwards forechecked from the opening puck drop. The team might not be playing for much this season, but Murray is on the bench for a reason: to steal a closer look at his group heading into a pivotal offseason (and perhaps even this month’s trade deadline).
Jakob Silfverberg is the likely focal point of any trade discussions Murray would hold with other clubs. The two-way forward is a pending unrestricted free agent and an attractive rental for a Stanley Cup contender. Murray said he’d like to lock up Silfverberg long term, but if that doesn’t come to fruition, he could be moved. For now, though, Silfverberg was happy to finally enjoy some success.
“I definitely think there was a little bit of extra jump in our legs today,” said Silverberg, who leads the club with 13 goals. “Emotion is something we’ve been kind of missing. ... I think we did a good job of playing with emotion and playing with emotion the right way meaning getting up the ice and playing with our feet. ... all over the ice. Those one-on-one battles, you gotta win them.”
Finally, the Ducks did just that after a lethargic stretch that spanned from December into February and past the All-Star break and team’s bye.
Max Jones, a Ducks first-round pick in 2016, impressed with his ferocious play on the puck. The veterans showed their tenacity, too — both Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf dropped the gloves against Canucks opponents.
For at least one night, the Ducks were able to forget about their lingering issues and just play hockey.
Kevin Boyle makes 35 saves to help the Ducks snap their seven-game losing streak in a chippy game against the Vancouver Canucks.