The Ducks snapped a nine game road losing streak last night when they beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 at Bell Centre.
After an abysmal start to the five game road trip that saw the Ducks lose 3-0 to the Ottawa Senators and 7-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs (not to mention a 6-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks in the last game of the homestand), the Ducks were able to play probably their best all-around game of the season to date.
The Ducks won the xGoals battle 4.32-1.93 in all situations and 1.81-1.56 in 5v5 play, according to moneypuck.com, which is a rarity this year.
The opening period was pretty uneventful for the first 18 minutes, with both teams not getting a ton of good scoring chances until the Ducks got a powerplay late in the period. Just 19 seconds into the powerplay, Anaheim’s big guns, Mason Mctavish, Trevor Zegras, and Troy Terry, go tic-tac-toe and put the Ducks on the board 1-0. McTavish feeds Zegras a clean cross-ice pass, who then provides a perfect tape-to-tape pass through the legs of Canadiens defensemen Kaiden Guhle to Terry, who was able to create separation from Guhle to isolate himself in front of the net, and he redirected it five-hole for the goal.
That goal was the first goal the Ducks had scored since last Friday against the Sharks. Terry’s goal snapped the Ducks’ 168 minute scoreless streak for those counting at home. Just another example of how this season is going for Anaheim.
Just 28 seconds later, Zegras breaks Guhle’s ankles on a zone entry and sets up John Klingberg, who was open in the slot, and he fires a wrister past Jake Allen. Not a great defensive showing on these two goals for Guhle.
Montreal did not respond until the third period on their fourth power play of the night. Arber Xhekaj (nicknamed Wi-Fi because his name resembles a Wi-Fi password) sends a quick pass over to Cole Caufield, who one-times it past Lukas Dostal from the face-off dot to cut the lead in half 2-1.
Until then, the Ducks penalty kill had looked very good, going 3-4 on the night. The PK did an outstanding job of blocking shots, clearing them immediately, and disrupting plays early so the Canadiens could not set up in the first place.
A few minutes later, Caufield would strike again when a Johnathan Kovacevic shot from the point gets behind the net, and Caufield wrapped it around the net and beat Jakob Silfverberg, who was trying to save the goal since Dostal was out of position to tie it up at 2-2. Bell Centre exploded with energy, and it seemed the Ducks were deflating and facing yet another collapse in this disastrous season.
John Klingberg would have something to say about it, and he bombed a slap shot from the point that goes top corner past Allen, who was screened and bumped into by his own defensemen, to regain a 3-2 lead with just over nine minutes to go for his second of the night. That goal happens because Ryan Strome wins a puck battle in the corner and chips it to Frank Vatrano, who then sends it Klingberg’s way for the goal.
The Canadiens called timeout with 1:39 left, and they pulled their goalie, but McTavish got a takeaway and connects a breakout pass with Adam Henrique, and Henrique gets the empty netter to put the nail in the coffin 4-2. Montreal would pull their goalie again, and Vatrano scored another empty netter with eight seconds left for good measure.
Lukas Dostal stopped 23-25 and looked solid throughout the game. Dostal had to come up with big saves a handful of times and did. With Anthony Stolarz being put on the IR and John Gibson out with an injury, we will see more of the Ducks highly touted goalie prospect in the next few games.
John Klingberg has been one of the Ducks most talked about players to be moved at the deadline this year, and he raised his trade value last night with a couple of goals. The offensive defenseman is off to one of the worst starts in his career, so the Ducks hope their big free agent acquisition builds off this game and can return to form.
I feel like a broken record saying this, but it was another great game played by Mason McTavish. The 19-year-old had two assists tonight and a 71.8% xG% at 5v5, according to MoneyPuck. McTavish also had a new linemate last night in Max Comtois, which proved to work great for the Ducks. Comtois also had a very strong game despite not ending up on the scoresheet. An 80.8% xG% at 5v5 is nothing to scoff at, and it was the highest on the Ducks last night. The Comtois-McTavish-Leason line had a total 80.4% xG%. Hopefully head coach Dallas Eakins will keep this line as is for the time being.
The Ducks now sit at 8-20-3 with 19 points but have now passed the Chicago Blackhawks in points, so the Ducks are no longer in last place in the NHL. We do not have to mention that the Ducks have played three more games than the Hawks and only have one more point, so the Hawks will likely gain that ground back.
The Ducks will continue their road trip in Edmonton for a Saturday Matinee against the Oilers at 1:00 p.m. PST.