Twenty games into the season. The Ducks escape the longest start without a regulation win in modern NHL history, a record held by the Arizona Coyotes. Outlasting an opponent on the second night of back-to-backs.
It’s not about the win, per se; it’s about the effort. Gibson was sensational with several 10 bell saves, 41 saves facing 43 shots, and a .953 save percentage. Even the pipes were in on the action tonight. Breakaway save on Kaapo Kakko. No surrender from the Ducks netminder.
Mason McTavish drove offense, as he does game after game, and his minutes finally reflect that. As mentioned, Gibby was “really good Gibson,” but Troy Terry was outstanding. Yes, he had a flashy stick-side high goal, the game-winner, but drawing the penalty with about 6 minutes left as the Rangers dialed up the pressure, was a game-changing moment.
Speaking of game-changing, Dmitry Kulikov, with a goal and the defensive moment of the game, locking up a Ranger player’s stick late in the contest and saving a goal that would have tied it up.
All of this is apparent when watching the game, but the fight was remarkable. After being embarrassed Saturday and losing a game they arguably should have won on Monday, the Ducks dug deep. The gutsy Jacob Silfverberg diving block. No member of the Ducks giving up when the Rangers came back. Spirited penalty kills and a shooting gallery final frame. Tonight Anaheim showed real resilience.
This hasn’t been the theme of this team this year. Too often, the Ducks have folded under the pressure of leading a game. Again and again, a late lead becomes a tie or, worse, a late goal for the opposition. But tonight was different. For example, they took the lead into the third period for the very first time this season.
After a captainless 20 games, the true leaders of the team showed up.
John Gibson. Troy Terry. Cam Fowler. Henrique was standing up to the Rangers when Gibson was bumped. The kids showed promise as well, with a Zegras assist, Max Jones had his best game since returning to from injury.
There are so many stories to tell when the team is winning. It’s all questions and psychobabble when a team is losing.
Have their struggles been coaching? Is it a lack of heart? Personnel?
Zegras clarified his disdain with a post-game interview after the first Blues game. Cam Fowler came out to face the music with Aly Lozoff after a closed-door players-only meeting. The worst team in the league has been better since, and there is cause for hope.
This was more fight than we have seen from the Ducks and the special teams weren’t terrible. Troy Terry admitted in a post-game interview how they have been guilty of being too defensive and chipping pucks out of the zone when they have a lead. In this game, they fought. They scrapped.
The team finally played like one, and John Gibson delivered a much-needed, feel-good win in regulation.
The beleaguered fans of this squad needed it.