Ducks deliver crushing 4-2 defeat of the Devils
There weren’t any fights this time, but there were skirmishes aplenty, an official needed to separate the squads after seemingly every other whistle as the contest wore on.
These were two desperate teams on the playoff bubble scratching and clawing as the season draws to a close, and tensions were at an all-time high.
Following three brawls in Friday’s victory over the Detroit Red Wings, the Ducks doled out several bone-crushing hits with some fighting words, too, en route to a 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday at Honda Center.
It’s no secret that the Ducks are one of the most physically imposing squads in the NHL, and they leveraged their size and grit to stymie a fast-skating Devils team that rode in on a three-game winning streak capped off by a shutout of the Kings on Saturday.
The Ducks were able to clog the neutral zone and held the Devils to just 17 shots, the second time they’ve registered fewer than 20 this season.
The more the Ducks joust and shove after the play, it appears, the more emotionally invested they are in the contest.
“As long as we’re in control – we have a tendency sometimes to get a little overboard – but as long as we’re playing on the edge and not over it,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said, “we’re OK. … If our guys are involved and engaged then we’re sticking up for each other and playing hard.”
Getzlaf ensured the Ducks produced the fast start coach Randy Carlyle was looking for (with the Devils playing for the second consecutive day) when he registered an unassisted goal just 1:14 into the matchup.
Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid made a tremendous save on Rickard Rakell off the rush, but the stop pulled him out of the crease, and Getzlaf was there to fire the bouncing puck into the empty net.
And yes, Getzlaf produced a highlight reel assist for the third consecutive game – all victories – with a behind-the-net feed to Brandon Montour on a third-period power-play chance.
The Devils responded about two minutes later to cut the deficit to one, and two familiar faces connected on the score. Former Ducks winger Patrick Maroon finished off the feed from Sami Vatanen, but the Devils’ momentum turn was short-lived.
Just 46 seconds later, Rakell redirected Cam Fowler’s point shot to salt the game away.
“We felt like we had control of the game,” said Rakell, who also assisted on Montour’s goal. “We had some good chances throughout the game and we didn’t get negative after they scored. We kept coming after them.”
That tenacity – that resiliency – will serve the Ducks well as they prepare to embark on a four-game swing through Western Canada that could make or break their postseason hopes.
Carlyle expects Josh Manson to be ready after he exited the contest in the first period with an upper-body injury. The defenseman didn’t return, but Carlyle said it’s “more than likely” Manson will accompany the squad on the trip. The 26-year-old will be reevaluated Monday before they resume practice Tuesday.
They currently sit in the Pacific Division’s third seed (the victory pushed the Kings to the wild card), but there’s no room to let up now with just nine games left amid mounds of uncertainty.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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