The Ducks suffered their first loss of the season Wednesday, a 3-2 shootout against the Arizona Coyotes. In addition to picking up a point, the Ducks also welcomed Ryan Kesler back into the fold. Here’s what we learned:
Max Comtois is more than up to the challenge of playing in the NHL
The 19-year-old scored in each of his first two NHL games this season, and he created plenty more chances Wednesday.
Comtois skated free on two breakaways in the first period, but was denied both times (he added a partial breakaway in overtime.) The second-line left wing also led the forward group with two blocked shots.
Even when some key forwards return to the lineup, Comtois, the Ducks’ second-round pick in 2017, figures to remain a key cog in the lineup.
The power forward possesses nice size at 6-foot-2, 217 pounds, and he finishes his checks with gusto, a component to Comtois’ game coach Randy Carlyle loves in his players.
“We encourage body contact. Some teams don’t; we do,” Carlyle said. “When the guy continues to get those kind of chances, you know he’s going to be able to score.
“Tonight he didn’t score, but the biggest thing for (the youngsters) is not to lose their confidence; not to get down on themselves. This is a tough league and they’re testing the water here.”
The Ducks continue to allow odd-man rushes at an alarming rate
Perhaps it’s simply a result of the team’s transition to a more up-tempo attack. But Kesler expressed frustration at the number of high-danger opportunities the Coyotes generated, and he feels the team is “fortunate to be 3-0-1.”
“We got strung out, specifically in the second period, more than anything. Our power play didn’t generate much. We gave up a shortie.”
John Gibson continues to provide the Ducks stellar play in net
The point is belabored at this juncture, but No. 36 is clearly an elite goaltender. He swatted away 39 shots and was perfect during 5-on-5 play.
During the 3-on-3 overtime period, Gibson was at his best and denied the Coyotes’ numerous 2-on-1 opportunities. Through four starts, Gibson’s maintained a 1.44 goals-against-average and a .955 save percentage. Sure, the sample size is small, but those are Vezina-quality numbers.
As long as he stays healthy, the Ducks always stand a chance.