Ducks’ Viktor Fasth makes a great first impression
Coach Bruce Boudreau had never seen Ducks backup goaltender Viktor Fasth play live in a game until Saturday night.
It was quite a first impression. The Swede stopped 19 of 21 shots through overtime and then denied Nashville on its three shootout tries to clinch a 3-2 victory at Honda Center.
Now the question is, what’s the lasting impression of Fasth’s NHL debut?
Boudreau kept the answer open-ended after the game, explaining that the Swedish Elite League where Fasth came from is “a far cry from the NHL.”
Yet, in this compressed season that has the Ducks playing back-to-back games five times by March 2 — with 17 games awaiting in that month — the reliance on Fasth could very well increase beyond what Boudreau first assessed.
The coach had said a healthy Jonas Hiller would start as much as possible. Hiller gave up 12 goals through the Ducks’ first three games and, although he has been hamstrung by lapses resulting in seven power-play goals, gave up a closing goal to Vancouver on Friday night.
Fasth, signed by the Ducks in May, finally got his shot Saturday.
“The more he plays, the more confidence he gets, and you go from there,” Boudreau said when asked about the plans for Fasth, 30.
Boudreau praised Fasth’s “calm.”
“That’s the demeanor the good ones have,” Boudreau said. “Even in the shootout, it was like, ‘I’ll have a cup of coffee and wait for these guys to come down.’ It was a great debut.”
Fasth surrendered a goal only 1 minute 52 seconds into the game, but he tightened up and was especially impressive when pressured in the third period and in overtime.
“I was a bit nervous at the beginning, but as soon as you get out there and can just focus on the puck … the guys helped me a lot and made it easy on me,” Fasth said.
Fasth confronted the shootout situation smoothly.
“I didn’t know much except to wait as long as possible and let them make the first move,” Fasth said, elaborating that foremost in his mind was “Winning. That’s what you play hockey for.”
He closed the victory with flair, gloving David Legwand’s shot over his right shoulder with a flip.
“I just wanted to make sure it didn’t roll over my shoulder and in the goal,” Fasth said. “Now I just have to work hard every practice and be ready when [Boudreau] asks me to play.”
The Ducks on Sunday recalled Long Beach’s Emerson Etem, 20, and defenseman Sami Vatanen from Norfolk (Va.) and demoted center Peter Holland and defenseman Jordan Hendry to the affiliate.
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