Rickard Rakell stays hot and helps the Ducks defeat the Flames
Randy Carlyle called Wednesday’s performance from the Ducks a stinker.
This was anything but.
The Ducks had outshot the opponent just eight times in 38 outings entering Friday night’s contest with the Calgary Flames, but they made No. 9 count with a 41 to 23 advantage, eclipsing their previous best shot differential of 15.
For the second consecutive game, the Ducks broke out like gangbusters to kick off the night, and this time, they finished the job.
Ryan Getzlaf was a force all night and led the Ducks to a 2-1 victory before a sellout crowd of 17,174 at Honda Center.
To put a bow on the game, the Ducks survived a late surge from the Flames. They were forced to kill off a late Rickard Rakell penalty and then essentially another power play as the Flames controlled possession with the extra attacker on the ice.
The Ducks now stand at 42 points after grabbing the vital two points against their Pacific Division rival.
“We were definitely on our toes to start the hockey game,” Carlyle said. “It showed that we were embarrassed by what had just transpired in the game previous against Vegas, where we found a way to stop competing and stop playing the way we’re capable of playing, and this was kind of like a make-up game for us.
“We had to renew our confidence and feel good about ourselves.”
The Ducks could feel good about their game all night. They set up shop in the Flames’ zone immediately with Getzlaf leading the way. The captain controlled possession and fired off rockets from all over the ice.
The all-star center was looking to set up his teammates, too, and found a trailing Cam Fowler on a nifty drop pass. Fowler immediately dished it back to Getzlaf, who glided into the slot all alone in front of Flames goalie Mike Smith.
But when he went to shoot, he fanned. Luckily, Fowler was there again, and he lifted the puck over Smith on the backhand to put the Ducks ahead 1-0 less than four minutes in.
From then on, Getzlaf and Rakell led the swarming attack, and kept the pressure on Smith, who answered the bell with an array of incredible saves (19 on 20 shots in the first period).
Getzlaf wasn’t finished. He produced a game-high two assists and was a force on the power play. He later found Rakell on the power play, who planted his right knee in the ice to beat Smith with a top-shelf wrister on the man-advantage for the Ducks’ second goal. It was the fourth consecutive contest where the Swede found the back of the net.
“I thought that we moved the puck quick and we shot quick,” Getzlaf said. “At times, we have a habit of holding onto the puck too long. … We did a better job of passing and shooting off the pass.”
The game was contentious, with quite a few scrums behind the net, kickstarted by a first-period throwdown between two of the league’s best agitators. Ryan Kesler unloaded an overhand right on Matthew Tkachuk that sent the 20-year-old’s mouthpiece flying in a first-period scrap and let the Flames know this go-around would be different.
The last time the teams met, it was Game 3 of the season, and an injury-depleted Ducks squad was turned back by Smith, whose 43-shot shutout spreadheaded the Flames.
Smith was again magnificent, and the Flames’ speedy top line created plenty of space. But the Ducks’ blueliners were up to the task against the dangerous unit for the most part.
Now, the Ducks will look to build some momentum heading into the New Year in a crowded Western Conference race.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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