Ducks win season opener 5-3 over Blackhawks!
Last night was opening night in the NHL with all 30 teams playing, but the only game we care about here on the Unofficial Mighty Ducks of Anaheim Blog is the Mighty Ducks/Blackhawks.
First off, the healthy scratches were Dustin Penner and Jonathan Hedstrom. J.S. Giguere got the start in net against Nikolai Khabibulin. The Hawks scored first at 8:22 of the first when Mark Bell put in a rebound from right in front of the crease. 1-0 Chicago.
However, the Ducks then got a two-man advantage and made good use of it as Teemu Selanne scored his first goal of the season with just one second left in the two-man power play. Petr Sykora and Corey Perry got the assists, and for Perry it was his first ever NHL point. The goal wasn't the prettiest one Teemu has ever scored, as it went off his pants, then a Blackhawks defender before finding the back of the net. But, they all count the same and the score was tied 1-1.
With 2:30 left in the first, the Blackhawks were on a power play. That's when Joffrey Lupul jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone and raced in on net. His shot went five-hole on Khabibulin and barely trickled past the goal line for a shorthanded goal that gave the Ducks their first lead. Again, not pretty - but they all count the same. 2-1 Ducks at the first intermission.
The second period saw more of Lupul's talent as he beat two Blackhawks defenders along the left-wing before cutting back to the slot and beating Khabibulin, again through the five-hole, for his second goal of the night. This was the first pretty goal the Ducks had scored, but they all count the same! Kip Brennan and Keith Carney picked up the assists and it was 3-1 Ducks!
Chicago would answer with a goal by Curtis Brown to make it 3-2. Less than a minute later, though, with Anaheim on a power play, Scott Niedermayer re-directed a Sergei Fedorov slapshot past Khabibulin to give the Ducks a 4-2 lead. Andy McDonald also assisted on the goal.
Again, Chicago would answer. This time it was Rene Bourque who scored his first NHL goal with just under four minutes to play in the second and it was 4-3 at the second intermission.
With the Ducks shorthanded early in the third, they struck again. Andy McDonald led a rush up the left wing before throwing a shot on net. The rebound went towards the right face-off circle where Rob Niedermayer somehow backhanded a one-timer top shelf for his first goal of the year and the Ducks second shorthanded goal of the night. The defense, from that point on, played great and Giguere was fantastic as Anaheim held on for a 5-3 win!
A few of my thoughts on this game. First of all, the team looked great. Joffrey Lupul looks very determined to be a star player in this league and to never play in the AHL again. Everyone was flying early on thanks to the adrenaline of opening night, but the Ducks pressure was obvious throughout the night. There were a lot of good scoring chances, for both teams, throughout the night.
Scott Niedermayer flat out kicks ass. This guy is so smooth and so skilled it's unreal. He's by far the best defenseman the Ducks have ever had and it will be a pleasure to watch this guy play in Anaheim for the next four years.
Corey Perry looked very nervous, and understandably so, but he also looked good. He had many scoring chances and as the year goes on he'll get his. I still think that Ryan Getzlaf could use some time in Portland to get more comfortable, but he wasn't a liability either.
Ruslan Salei is going to hav to work on his conditioning. He was gassed late in the game and took some dumb penalties as a result of being out of position or unable to keep up with opposing forwards.
Todd Fedoruk introduced himself to former Duck Todd Simpson in the second, and the two fought to a draw. It's great to have him, Kip Brennan and Travis Moen all dressed in the same game as you know the Ducks will not ever be physically intimidated when they are present. Speaking of Brennan, he had an assist and did a great job on the forecheck. He could be a great player for the Ducks if he continues to play like that.
Giguere looked fine. He looked like he got hurt late in the third, and I haven't heard more about that yet, but he finished the game and earned his first of what we all hope are many wins this season.
The new style that Randy Carlyle and Brian Burke have the Ducks playing is a lot of fun to watch. They were very aggressive in going after the puck and threw a lot of checks. It was opening night, so we'll see if they can keep that up for a full season. If so, we should be very entertained.
One game down - 81 to play. So far, so good. Any day that the Mighty Ducks win is a good day. If the Queens also lose that day, it's a great day. If the Angels win a playoff game the same day, it's a fantastic day! Yesterday was a fantastic day!