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Moms, Late Goals, and W’s on Big Road Trip

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After the Black Friday overtime winner vs Edmonton, the Ducks hit the road for their first long road trip of the year, and this one was not going to be an easy one. The Ducks were bound for Nashville, then continuing on to Tampa, Florida, Carolina, and finally Washington. With the way the season has been going, I don’t think the expectations were at an all-time high when you’re set to face the top team in the west, top team in the east, and the defending cup champs all on the same trip. In addition, the Ducks moms would be joining their sons on the trip from Nashville to Florida. If anything, hopefully they could whip them into shape.

The trip started off with what Randy Carlyle would refer to as a “Stinker” in Nashville. That hurts because I think we all would love to beat Nashville anytime we can, not to mention having Austin Watson get a hat trick really was kicking us when we were down. Things were not looking good as we headed to the Sunshine state. In Tampa we would see Ryan Miller take the net as it was the first half of a back to back. The Lightning are still without their number 1 goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, as we faced Louis Domingue (who John Gibson considered murdering while Domingue was with Arizona on opening night last year, but decided to spare his life). The Ducks showed up and held their own vs Tampa, with goals from Manson, Ritchie, and Rowney the Ducks were able to beat the best in the east 3-1 behind a solid performance from Miller.

Photo: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

The next night in Sunrise, the Ducks turned to John Gibson to lead them to a victory vs the Cats. The Ducks have had their problems with the Panthers in the past. They lost big last year at the BB&T Center and have struggled with them on home ice as well. They seem to be one of those teams that just has our number. Josh Manson would open the scoring just 15 seconds into this one, for his 2nd goal in as many nights. Then, in typical Ducks fashion we got into some penalty trouble and promptly gave up the lead in the second period. We needed someone to step up and come up big for us in this one, and number 37 did just that. Ritchie tipped in the game tying goal, and then scored the game winning goal with just about a minute and a half left in the 3rd to send the Ducks to victory. You have to imagine that Florida is not all too happy not getting at least a point out of that game vs a western conference team.

Photo: FSW

Next stop, Carolina. John Gibson was under siege in the first period, and did typical John Gibson things turning away pucks left and right. Also, in typical John Gibson fashion his team just could not help him out until it was too late and the Canes took the 1-0 lead. It’s almost as if the team just expects him to make all these saves and then when one finally goes in they decide that they should start trying to help him out. Anyways, this was a goaltenders game as the Ducks trailed 1-0 until late in the 3rd when a pass from Adam Henrique went off a Carolina stick, off a Carolina helmet, directly in the air, and elite waiver wire pick up Pontus Aberg slapped it top corner out of midair and suddenly this one was tied late. In OT the Ducks showed patience (and a very boring style of 3 on 3) but it paid off when Hampus found Getzy behind the defense and he roofed the OT game winner in dramatic fashion.

Photo: Canes Country

Finally, we head to Washington for an afternoon match up with the Cup champs. Already satisfied with the trip, I think we were all hoping to at least get a point out of this game and head back west. Well, this was quite the game. The Ducks come out looking like a joke in the first period giving up a 2 on 1 rush to the Caps that leads to an easy tap in goal and we were down before people were in their seats. Ducks end up giving up another goal on a strange bounce not too long after and this game has all the makings of a “Stinker” yet again. After making it 2-1, the Ducks give up a PPG which would lead to Gibby’s day being done, and Miller coming into try and hold it down and get us out of DC. I will say, that after a bit of a debacle with Referee Garret Rank refusing to stop play after Gibson’s throat guard broke, then the bad bounce leading to the second goal, I think Carlyle made the right call by getting Gibson out of there. He was clearly frustrated, as was the team, and not only is putting Miller in a wakeup call to the guys, it also is good for Gibson to get out of there before things could have escalated between him and the officials or with the Caps.

The Ducks go down 5-1, yes 5-1 and it was looking bad. Many of us had checked out and moved on to other Sunday afternoon activities, but the Ducks did not. Cogs and Ricky score 2 quick goals and all the sudden it is 5-3 with a whole 3rd period to go. Now this is where it would not be uncommon for a team to think that scoring 2 more goals un-answered vs the cup champs in their rink is not going to happen, and why not just try to survive the 3rd and get on that plane back home. The Ducks, to their credit did not do this and had themselves quite the 3rd period. Miller came up huge in the 3rd, and then after back to back boarding’s by the Caps Orlav, the Ducks come all the way back and tie it 5-5. The Caps looked lost, like they deserved to win that game and didn’t understand what was happening. After Sherwood takes a penalty it seemed like this would be where the Caps score and all the headlines would be about how the cup champs spoiled our big comeback. Well the Ducks pretty easily kill off their penalty and as soon as Sherwood is out of the box, he comes down with Getzlaf and Aberg, and with a little luck Pontus is able to tuck home the 6th goal of the day for the Ducks and they would hold on to defeat the Caps in an amazing game. What. A. Comeback.

Photo: AP Photo/Nick Wass

The Ducks head home with 8 of 10 points, and lots of momentum as they will welcome the Hawks, Canes, Devils, and Stars on this home stand. That was a great road trip and may just have been exactly what the doctor ordered. It is so important for this team to build off of wins like that and keep it rolling. The Pacific is still a log jam, but around this time is when teams start to separate themselves from the rest and if the Ducks can keep it going like they did on this trip, we can put ourselves in a great spot.

Featured Image: AZ Daily Star
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