What we learned from the Ducks’ 2-1 victory over the Stars at Dallas on Friday:
Defense isn’t resting: The Ducks, who last season ranked second in the NHL in goals scored, also can play a solid defensive game. They’re among the stingiest teams in the NHL this season and after their 2-1 win at Dallas they have allowed two goals or fewer in seven of their last eight games. That certainly helps make up for their recent offensive struggles.
“As we know, defense wins championships. It’s a great thing to learn,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday. “We fully believe that eventually some of our guys that we’re counting on scoring are going to start scoring. And if we can continue to play good defense when they do get scoring, we’ll have a pretty good shot at having a lot of wins.”
Youngsters should be seen and heard from: Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler and Josh Manson disproved the popular theory that young defensemen are best seen in limited amounts and need extensive experience before they can become effective. Lindholm, 20, Vatanen, 23, Fowler, 22, and Manson, 23, were solid contributors on Friday.
Lindholm and Vatanen were poised and smart; Fowler had the second assist on Nate Thompson’s winning goal and Manson acquitted himself well in his NHL debut. The son of notorious tough guy Dave Manson did take a delay-of-game penalty after shooting the puck over the glass early in the second period but he didn’t falter. And he almost had a goal early in the third period, when he converted the rebound of a shot by Tim Jackman only to see the officials wave the goal off because Jackman had collided with and taken goaltender Kari Lehtonen out of the play.
“I thought he was pretty solid,” Boudreau said of Manson, who played 12 minutes and 30 seconds and was credited with one hit and one giveaway. “I thought he recovered mentally really well from the penalty. Those are things a guy in a tight game, a kid, it could really rattle you. But it didn’t rattle him. He came right back and he played really solid the rest of the game.”
Finding ways to win is golden: No question, the Ducks’ offense isn’t clicking, and Boudreau has tried many ways to mix things up. On Friday he sat out Dany Heatley and played Patrick Maroon, saying he needed speed against the Stars and didn’t want two slower players like Heatley and Maroon in the lineup at the same time.
To improve to 9-3-0 after beating Dallas on Friday despite being mired in this scoring slump was significant.
“It’s huge,” said Corey Perry, who scored the first goal and took the shot that Nate Thompson deflected for the winner. “Anytime you go into somebody else’s building and get two points you did something right. I thought we responded really well tonight. We played our game right through. Yeah, they had scoring chances. We’re going to give up scoring chances. But we did a lot of good things, a lot of the right things, and we take away what we learned from this game.”