Ducks finally find out, but too late to beat Golden Knights – Press Enterprise

ANAHEIM — It took most of the Ducks’ 4-5 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights to figure out the best way to play their Pacific Division opponents by bringing the game to them. Their best defense Friday night at the Honda Center was to go on offense and take Vegas out of their high-speed game.

After two periods of experimentation, the Ducks finally got it right in the third. As they began to play faster with the puck and struggled more desperately to close a three-goal deficit after a poor second period, they found themselves back in the game.

Troy Terry’s power play goal to 6:39 in the third game gave them a chance to complete an unlikely comeback. The Ducks pushed the issue down the stretch but failed to equalize and failed to gain ground in a Stanley Cup playoff race that is slowly fading from view.

The Ducks and Golden Knights started the night just ahead of the second of two Western Conference wild cards. For the Ducks, their fifth-place finish was better than anyone expected when the season started in October. It was a different kind of surprise for fourth-place finisher Vegas.

Kind of an early stoppage as the Ducks first met Jakob Silfverberg’s first goal in 12 games, a sharp shot from the goal line 4:47 into play. Vegas countered Ben Hutton’s goal after seven minutes, a preview of things to come.

The Ducks hung on the boards on the right wing and lost sight of Hutton on the opposite wing. Something similar happened in the opening seconds of the second period when the Ducks’ failure to guard allowed Jonathan Marchessault to run open just 18 seconds into the period.

The Ducks’ Nicolas Deslauriers leveled it 2-2 at 2:23.

Then a few friendly jumps just over three minutes apart resulted in goals for Nicolas Roy. The puck landed on his racquet not just once, but twice. Michael Amadio, a former king, then boxed out Cam Fowler in front of the net, scoring after 9:44 of the second to make it 5-2.

Trevor Zegras gave the Ducks and their fans a much-needed boost of energy with a powerplay goal to cut the 18:38 lead to 5-3, the beneficiary of some skillful passing and puck handling from Rickard Rakell and Jamie Drysdale. Zegra’s goal was his 15th, tying him with Rakell for second place with the Ducks.

Coach Dallas Eakins maintained the same lineup as in the Ducks’ 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, when Zegras scored the decisive power-play goal with 22 seconds remaining. Vegas showed no signs of attrition after Thursday’s 5-2 loss to Boston.

Nothing, it seemed, could help the Ducks through another rocky second period. However, there was still a period to play. A two-goal deficit wasn’t ideal, but managed to beat a three-goal deficit thanks to Zegras’ goal late in the middle period. The momentum was difficult to maintain.

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