Wild Wing swung down from the rafters on a cable clad in the Ducks’ new black and teal alternate sweater bearing his likeness, a fresh take on the original purple and teal jerseys with the cartoon logo.
That the mascot made it safely to the ice in one piece might seem like a mere formality; it was anything but at the onset of the club’s existence.
A highlight reel on the jumbotron hearkened back to the humble beginnings of the franchise — then called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim — all the way to the perennial Cup contender they are now.
It was on Oct. 8, 1993, that those Mighty Ducks took the ice for the first time in a 7-2 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings. Shootouts weren’t yet introduced to the NHL — ties were eliminated in 2005 — but one was required to determine the outcome 25 years later to the day. And this time, the Ducks came out on top 3-2, capping off their quarter anniversary celebration Monday before 17,436 at Honda Center.
Troy Terry, one of six rookies in the lineup, fired the game-winning goal through Jimmy Howard’s five hole; John Gibson was perfect on the other end to ensure the Ducks remained undefeated through three games.
The 21-year-old established himself as a weapon in the skills competition during Team USA’s run in the World Junior Championships last year, so coach Randy Carlyle didn’t hesitate to call Terry’s No. 61.
“Every game I’ve started to feel more and more comfortable,” said Terry, who’s already playing on the Ducks’ top line on the left side. “I think tonight I kind of took on defenders more and that’s kind of what I was good at — using my speed and my stick skills to attack defenders.”
“It feels good to do those things that you usually do and kind of have them work at this level. It puts confidence in you.”
With a rash of injuries plaguing the Ducks at the start of a second consecutive campaign, Carlyle has no choice but to rely on the youngsters.
Eighteen-year-old Isac Lundestrom, the team’s first-round choice in June’s draft, made his NHL debut Monday, the youngest forward to suit up in team history. He centered the third line, and Carlyle said it was clear the moment wasn’t too big for him.
When the entire team was introduced during a pregame ceremony, many of its best players stood in suits on a black tarp in front of the bench. Patrick Eaves (shoulder surgery), Ryan Kesler (arthritic hip), Ryan Getzlaf (day-to-day lower-body injury) and Corey Perry (knee surgery) are all sorely missed.
Only Getzlaf, the team’s captain, is expected to return soon.
“We’re going to have to lean on our veteran guys to lead the way,” Carlyle said. “We can’t expect to put any more pressure on the young kids that are playing because it’s enough pressure and intensity that comes natural with them trying to cut their teeth in the NHL.
“We’re going to have to expect our veterans to continue to grow their own games so they can lead us in the right direction.”
They did on this night. Hampus Lindholm (only 24 but playing in his sixth season) scored the equalizer with a nifty wrist shot in the second period. The Ducks tied it again 8:29 into the third period when Adam Henrique glided to the net, corralling the puck with his body as a shield; Jakob Silfverberg buried the rebound.