ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – After taking the weekend to think about the two-goal lead they squandered late against the Chicago Blackhawks, the struggling Anaheim Ducks were determined to focus on the things they did well against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Anaheim certainly looked like a team starting to figure things out while it pummeled the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 on Monday night for its most emphatic win of the season.
John Gibson made 25 saves for his third career shutout, and Shawn Horcoff, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg and Corey Perry scored as Anaheim won for only the second time in its last five games.
“I thought we played a really good game against Chicago. It was a tough pill to swallow, but we got back the next day, we talked about what we did well and thought we figured something out there,” Horcoff said.
Ryan Miller stopped 25 shots while Vancouver was shut out for the first time this season.
Horcoff picked up where Anaheim had left off for the first 58 minutes against Chicago, scoring just 1:19 into the opening period by taking Andrew Cogliano’s pass and converting a one-timer.
Horcoff, Cogliano and Carl Hagelin were even more impressive on defense, smothering the prolific Sedin twins. Daniel Sedin managed only three shots, and his streak of seven games with a point ended. Henrik Sedin did not put a shot on goal, ending his six-game points streak.
Horcoff’s line brilliantly denied the Sedins free space to operate all night.
“I think Horcoff and Cogliano and Hagelin have done a tremendous job against all the big lines lately and they continued to do a really good job tonight,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.
While the Anaheim defense quietly did its job, the much-maligned offense finally erupted. Ten different Anaheim players had a point.
Rakell doubled the Anaheim advantage on the power play with 2 seconds left in the first period. Miller crept out well in front of his crease to intercept a pass from Sami Vatanen to Ryan Getzlaf, but couldn’t cover it up. After Getzlaf took several failed whacks, Rakell chipped in his sixth goal of the season.
Silfverberg ripped a shot past Miller 1:00 into the third period, with rookie Nick Ritchie’s first NHL point coming on an assist that found Silfverberg barrelling into the offensive zone.
“We haven’t had one like this all year so it was good to be able to breathe in the last 5 minutes of the game,” Boudreau said.
It wasn’t until Perry scored a breakaway goal midway through the final period that coach Willie Desjardins finally pulled Miller, who went straight up the tunnel toward the locker room as Jacob Markstrom came in.
Miller’s exit was the physical embodiment of a Vancouver team that failed to match Anaheim’s desperation.
“That’s the furthest from being into a game we’ve been all year,” Henrik Sedin said. “We knew it was a big game coming in. We did some technical stuff right, but our energy level wasn’t there.”
Vancouver forward Jake Virtanen (upper body) did not return after taking a cross-check from Getzlaf in the first period. Desjardins did not expect Virtanen to play Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.