4 takeaways from the Ducks’ victory over the Blue Jackets

The Anaheim Ducks Columbus faced off against the Blue Jackets in a battle between the only two clubs in the NHL that entered last night’s league action with fewer than 30 points in the standings. With both teams on losing streaks to start the second half of the season, each club remains firmly in the running for lottery picks in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, with franchise-changing players at the top and generally strong pools. After an absolutely terrifying first period of talent play, The Ducks roared back with five unanswered goals The last forty minutes of action beat the Blue Jackets. Let’s look at some takeaways from the game.

Horrible start almost dooms the duck

A game against the worst team in the NHL gave the Ducks some much-needed confidence. They didn’t get off to a good start, surrendering two shots in the first six minutes and three goals overall. To make matters worse, it wasn’t Columbus’ offensive weapons that defeated them. Their three goal scorers on the night entered the game with seven goals between them. Seven. Certainly, the game plan was to slow down elite offensive threats like Patrick Laine and Johnny Gaudreau and force other players to beat you. Immediately, that’s exactly what happened.

Cam Fowler Anaheim Ducks
Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Anthony Stolarz, who started, was beaten high on every goal, but it was hard to blame him entirely. Columbus came out strong and checked hard, and the Ducks turned the puck over, gave up odd-man runs and couldn’t clear the defensive zone at crucial times. It was an early exit for Stolrge in place of John Gibson for the final forty minutes of action.

Ducks blitz Columbus to halt momentum

This game could easily get out of hand without a quick goal Adam Henrique To begin the second phase. It was the best possible start for Anaheim and one they needed if there was any chance of slowing any carryover for Columbus after the break. A good forecheck and good stick by Cam Fowler led to a turnover that created an odd-man chance for a goal. Immediately, they were back in the game and set the stage for a three-goal period of their own in response.

Duck shots don’t lose battles

For the first time in a while, the Ducks weren’t badly outshot. They tied the Blue Jackets in shots on goal with 33. While it’s not a huge feat to tie your opponent to shots on goal, the level of offensive output they’re able to put up is remarkable for this team. The result was their fourth 5 goal game of the campaign and second in the last few weeks, their last. A win over the San Jose Sharks Early January.

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We don’t know when with this group, but we do know they can create offense in bunches. It helps when they get contributions from the entire lineup.

The entire lineup contributed offensively

The Ducks got contributions from their entire lineup in the win. Guys like Trevor Zegras, Adam Henrique and Troy Terry were relied upon to provide the offense and they did. However, it was the contributions of guys that don’t often show up on the stat sheet that played a big role in pulling the Ducks out of an early slump. Cam Fowler Recorded two points, scoring a perfectly executed middle lane drive and a slick backhanded saucer pass. Max Comtois. Simon Benoit equalized late in the second half. Max Jones, recently returned from injury, scored the insurance marker late in the third period on a rebound off a strong drive to the net by Jason Megna.

What have we learned?

It may come against one of the worst teams in the league, but a win is a win. After a torrid opening 20 minutes, Anaheim came out firing and scored five unanswered goals to secure their first win in seven games. That’s not a sustainable way to win, and won’t happen again when trailing by three goals to a better team than Columbus, but we learned a few things last night. Here’s what they were:

We’ve seen their depth and what can happen when role players get involved. For the first time in a long time players not in the top-six forward group got on the scoresheet. This usually bodes well for a team’s chances of winning. There is less pressure on Zegrass, Terry, Mason McTavish and Henrique to carry the load offensively every single game.

We’ve seen what can happen when the Ducks don’t spend the majority of the game on defense. Again, take this with a grain of salt here given the opposition, but if the Ducks can get shots on goal and play in the offensive zone, they can score.

All things considered, the story line for these two clubs will continue to be both their ongoing status as front-runners for lottery picks and their potential trade deadline activity. Game in, game out, though, there’s something we can learn about this team and its potential.

Anaheim draws the Buffalo Sabers in a Sunday matinee at 12:30 PM EST.

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