One game at a time.
Being down 0-2 isn't insurmountable by any means, but the Ducks realistically can't afford to lose tonight if they expect to make a serious push in this best-of-seven series. They must live with the hand they've been dealt - two losses in Games 1 and 2 on home ice - and find a way to win four of the five remaining games of the series.
They will likely lean on John Gibson once more, hoping he provides them with the kind of performance Cam Talbot gave the Oilers two nights ago - a 39-save effort in a one-goal game. Gibson has been good throughout the playoffs, but he will need to be great tonight.
Nick Ritchie and Sami Vatanen took part in the optional skate this morning for the Ducks. Also with the club are rookies Nicolas Kerdiles and Ondrej Kase, recalled yesterday from San Diego, in the midst of a first round series against the Ontario Reign. Asked if either (or both) could draw into the lineup tonight, head coach Randy Carlyle said "full contingent of players available." Carlyle added that it's about dressing the best lineup possible, plain and simple. Ritchie fell ill with flu-like symptoms just prior to Game 2, so perhaps one of Kase or Kerdiles fills his spot on the third line if he can't play tonight. Vatanen hasn't played since Game 1 against Calgary, but it appears he's getting close. If he doesn't play, Korbinian Holzer will draw in.
Just because the Ducks are in this 0-2 hole doesn't mean they're down in the dumps. Quite the contrary, actually. "There is a good feeling in our group because of the work ethic we provided and the number of chances we created," Carlyle told reporters. "We're going use the crowd as a springboard for us. The emotions will be high. We have to stay disciplined. We're not looking behind."
Ducks defenseman Josh Manson, forever stoic in his interviews, says he and his teammates are ready for the task. "We're not in a panic, but we know we need to get some wins here," he said. "We're a little bit more desperate. We're a confident group. We have veteran leadership in this room and they're keeping everything calm. They've been in these spots before. We're not panicking. We're ready."
Fellow defenseman Cam Fowler adds, "We're facing adversity right now. You never want to lose two in a row, especially in your own building. Our focus is on this game and this game only."
Fowler also says there is nothing wrong with boring hockey, at least from a road team's perspective. "As a road team, you can come in with a simple workmanlike approach and bore the game down a little bit," he said. "Take the crowd out of it. That would be advantageous for us."
Potential Line Combinations