Vancouver’s 4-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks Saturday night at Rogers Arena was classified as "a great experience" by coach Alain Vigneault, but hear him out before getting up in arms.
For the second consecutive pre-season game the Canucks iced a line-up of players scrapping to make the team, as opposed to the veteran filled roster of the Ducks. All the big names played for Anaheim, Perry, Koivu, Getzlaf, Selanne, Ryan, etc, and most of them had an impact in Vancouver’s first home loss of pre-season play.
Scoreboard aside, coach Vigneault was pleased with how his group responded to a full 60-minute game against players some Canucks normally wouldn’t be on the ice against.
“Obviously they put a very good line-up on the ice, we had some enthusiastic youth on the ice and a couple of older veterans who wanted to show what they could do and for the most part, I like the way we handled ourselves,” said Vigneault.
“Sometimes in games your fourth line gets caught out there against their top lines and you have to see if they can do the job and tonight’s a great night to see if they could do it for more than just one shift.
“I think this was a great experience for all our players to play against such a good line-up.”
The game began with Vancouver holding its own for most of the first period thanks largely to the stellar goaltending of Cory Schneider. Anaheim held a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes and doubled its lead midway through the second before a pair of goals 54 seconds part in the late stages of the frame made it a 4-0 games through two periods.
Kevin Connauton broke the Ducks shutout on the power play with a slap shot from the point 12:55 into the third. Final shots favoured the Canucks 29-23 thanks to eight third period attempts from the home team.
Mike Duco’s ultimate goal in this game was to finish hits.
He did that and then some.
Duco dished out three hits against the Ducks, but more importantly he was again able to get under the skin of one of his opponent’s top players by ruffling the feathers of Ryan Getzlaf. Unlike Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall two nights ago, Getzlaf dropped the gloves with Duco midway through the third period.
Duco was the target of some rough stuff from Jean-Francois Jacques later in the third; Jacques was assessed a fighting major, 10-minute game misconduct and the instigator penalty when he jumped Duco, who was not penalized, in front of the Ducks penalty box.
Mission accomplished for Duco, a scrappy 24-year-old who scored 20 goals and had 31 points for the AHL’s Rochester Americans last season.
“If they’re focused on me then you know they’re not too worried about the game, so I did my job,” said Duco, who got into a war of words with the Ducks late in the contest. “They were calling me classless and this and that, but I’m out there doing my job.”
Coach Vigneault noted the edge Duco plays with is part of the trademark that brought him to Vancouver.
Coach Vigneault said he was impressed with the first half of the game from Cody Hodgson and linemates Marco Sturm and Nicklas Jensen and the offensive chances they produced; Billy Sweatt returned to the ice for the first time since injuring himself during the 2011 Young Stars Tournament; Keith Ballard, Andrew Alberts and Maxim Lapierre all sported an ‘A’ in this game.