The inconsistent play that plagued the Ducks during their Western Canada trip last week made an unwelcomed return Sunday at Honda Center.
Behind a strong performance from goalie Frederik Andersen and goals from Kyle Palmieri and Patrick Maroon, the Ducks overcame penalties and defensive lapses in the third period to hold on for a 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes.
Andersen was key in helping the Ducks weather the storm in the third, making several strong saves in addition to helping kill off an Arizona power play in the final minute. Andersen finished with 26 saves en route to his ninth win of season.
“This was the first real Freddie performance I’ve seen,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Freddie knows he can play, and we have all the faith in him that he’s a real good goalie.
“It’s got to be a confidence booster for him.”
Boudreau wasn’t as pleased with the Ducks’ overall effort. Playing “for a full 60 minutes” was a common refrain by coach and players after the game; the Ducks have struggled to deliver that in recent contests.
Last week, the Ducks led in games against Calgary and Vancouver before settling for a loss and a win in shootouts. They’ve earned points in 10 of their last 11 games but have suffered defensive breakdowns while leading in recent games.
“I think we’re still way too tentative in the third period with the lead,” Boudreau said. “The more we get to hold these leads, the better we’ll be going forward.”
The Ducks dominated the first two periods against the Coyotes, outshooting them, 25-10. Goalie Mike Smith made several point-blank saves to keep the game scoreless, but his first mistake proved costly. Smith fell while playing the puck behind the net in the second, allowing Ryan Kesler to fling the puck to Palmieri, who fired at an empty net for his second goal of the season.
“It was a lucky one, but I’ll take it,” Palmieri said.
Minutes later, Maroon scored his first of the season when he snapped in a rebound off a Sami Vatanen slapshot.
“It feels good,” Maroon said about his goal. “I haven’t been playing good hockey the past few games I’ve been back. I’ve been trying too hard, I guess. I just need to get back to my game, and I thought I did OK.”
The Coyotes’ strong third period culminated in a goal by Keith Yandle with just over 11 minutes left. Arizona’s last and best chance to score again came when Francois Beauchemin was called for cross-checking with 41 seconds left. Despite having two extra attackers after pulling their goalie, the Coyotes managed just one more shot.
The absence of defenseman Clayton Stoner hurt the Ducks. He was held out of the game after experiencing “mumps-like symptoms.” Corey Perry and Beauchemin missed five games after being diagnosed with mumps this month.
If Stoner misses more games, the Ducks’ defensive corps will be limited to six skaters as the team adjusts to playing without Bryan Allen, who was sent to Montreal in the Rene Bourque trade. Bourque saw limited ice time in his Ducks’ debut, but made a big hit on Arizona’s Joe Vitale.