4 Takeaways From Ducks’ Shootout Thriller Against Avalanche

The Hockey Writers

Well, well. How about that as a way to snap an eight-game losing streak? The Anaheim Ducks, in the same way, they have for many of their games during the slide, came to play and gave it their best effort against a much more talented and deeper Colorado Avalanche team last night (Dec. 2). Their collective effort in all three phases of the game resulted in a fast-paced, back-and-forth, high-scoring affair that ended in their favor via a 4-3 shootout win.

On an all-around electric night at Honda Center, there was much to celebrate besides putting an end to the losing streak. John Gibson set a Ducks goaltending record, Alex Killorn hit a goal-scoring milestone, and longtime Duck and fan-favorite Josh Manson returned to Anaheim for the first time since his 2022 trade. Finally, Leo Carlsson shined and continued to validate his standing as the number two overall pick from last summer’s draft. Let’s look at some takeaways from the impressive win.

Positive: Gibson Shaky to Start But Stellar as Game Went On

Gibson played in his 448th game as a Duck last night, a record among Ducks goaltenders. Passing Guy Herbert to set the mark, he is well on his way to setting numerous more goaltending records if he continues his career in a Ducks uniform.

It didn’t start well, though. Brett Leason of the Ducks and Bowen Byram of the Avalanche traded chances in the first minute of the game, but it would be the latter who would beat Gibson, on a shot that most would say he should have stopped. Byram would get a second nine minutes later and you got the sense that they were off to the races.

It wouldn’t turn out that way. The guys in front of him played an overall solid first period, and Gibson, as he so often does, got better as the game went on. He settled in after the shaky start, made timely saves, and challenged Avalanche shooters all night. When he is on, his play exudes confidence. He kept the Ducks within striking distance in the back-and-forth contest.

Positive: When All Four Lines Come to Play, Ducks Can Win Games

We’ve witnessed that this Ducks team can hang with or beat the best teams the NHL has to offer. When and how can they do that? When all four lines show up, for starters. And that was the case against the Avalanche.

Related: Ducks: Predicting Alex Killorn’s Spot in Return to Lineup

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Let’s start with the top line – Carlsson, Killorn, and Troy Terry. They were all over the ice. They put 12 shots on goal between them. In the third period, head coach Greg Cronin threw them out there on what seemed like every other shift because they were generating chances, maintaining possession in the offensive zone, and pressing the Avalanche defense. Carlsson and Killorn had two points apiece; it was Killorn’s best game by far as a Duck. It was great to see. With more of that on a more consistent basis, the Ducks can put up a fight with anyone.

Leo Carlsson, Anaheim Ducks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Ducks lost Mason McTavish in the first period, but it was business as usual for Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano. They, too, generated chances, put shots on the net, and each collected a point. These two play with a pit bull snarl that is refreshing to see. They aren’t shy about getting in the face of the opposition. It’s part of what makes them effective, and they were at it again against the Avalanche.

The bottom-six forward group, likewise, was excellent in the win. Adam Henrique contributed a goal and saw more ice time after McTavish’s exit. So did Bo Groulx. Leason had great looks at the net. Max Jones, ever his physical and pesky self, has been finding his game lately and was all over the Avalanche defense.

Overall, these complete efforts are confidence builders. And when I say complete, just look at this: 10 of 12 forwards had shots on goal. Each forward played at least 12 minutes and was called upon at different moments to fill the void left by McTavish’s unfortunate exit. Hard not to appreciate the effort up front. The defense deserves its kudos, too. All six blue liners for the Ducks were sharp, made plays in both zones, and brought their best against some of the most dynamic forwards in the NHL.

Special Teams, Once Again, Was Excellent and the Difference

The special teams battle was always going to be a decisive factor, given the talent on the other side. That first power-play unit moves the puck so well. They make quick decisions, are elusive, and are so good at keeping the shorthanded unit guessing. Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and Mikko Rantanen didn’t come off the ice much on any of their power play opportunities, but the Ducks shut them down completely.

Conversely, the Ducks cashed in when playing on the man advantage. Both units scored big goals – Henrique in the first to make the game 2-1 and Killorn in the second to make it 3-3. The look of the power play has been great of late, with guys moving the puck, looking to shoot, and winning the positioning battles. It was a complete and diversified effort in the special teams arena as well, and it was the difference in the game.

Negative: McTavish Exits in First Period

There’s not much to update here yet, but McTavish exited the game in the first period with an unspecified injury. Given the injury woes and mysterious recovery timelines of other young Ducks stars, one hopes McTavish misses minimal to zero time. He, like Carlsson, has been so good this season. He is a driver of the Strome and Vatrano line and plays with tenacity, skill, and IQ. The Ducks need him, so this will be a storyline to follow in the coming days.

Ducks and Avalanche Do It All Over Again on Tuesday

If 65 high-paced minutes and a thrilling shootout weren’t enough to satisfy your taste for this matchup, then you’re in luck because these two teams will enter the fray once again next Tuesday (Dec. 5) at Ball Arena in Denver.

Let’s take a minute to appreciate the highlights of a win like this. From Gibson’s performance, to Carlsson silky game-winner, to the complete effort by all 17 skaters (minus McTavish) to get the job done against a superior opponent. The losing streak has officially been snapped, and the Ducks move forward from here.

The Hockey Writers thehockeywriters.com Sports

2023-12-03 17:52:08 , Anaheim Ducks on Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games

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