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Recap: Diminished Ducks Defense Denies Maple Leafs, 2-1

by Adam Brady @AdamJBrady /

ANAHEIM -- A depleted defensive corps was hardly a deterrent for a scrappy Anaheim Ducks team tonight.

Despite again being without four of their top blueliners, the Ducks mostly shut down the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs in an impressive 2-1 victory at Honda Center.

The Ducks once again had to piece together a defensive group that was without injured Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson and Erik Gudbranson. Instead the likes of Michael Del Zotto, Brendan Guhle, Jani Hakanpaa, Christian Djoos, Jacob Larsson and Matt Irwin helped keep Toronto off the board until 17 minutes into the third period.

The Ducks were nursing a one-goal lead for a large portion of the night before Adam Henrique scored a huge one with 9:40 left, pouncing on a loose puck in the right wing circle and sniping it top corner.

Video: TOR@ANA: Henrique goes upstairs to double lead

The celebration after that goal was muted when it was determined that goalie John Gibson had gotten injured making a save at the other end of the rink a few moments earlier. He left the game to be replaced by backup Ryan Miller, having tossed a 26-save shutout up to that point.

But the Leafs got within a goal with just three minutes left on a shot from the right wing by William Nylander that beat Miller clean after Sonny Milano turned the pick over on a clearing attempt.

Miller kept the lead by making a huge left leg pad stop on a one-timer from the slot by John Tavares with 38.6 left and the Toronto net empty. Then Anaheim survived a flurry around its net in the closing moments just before the buzzer sounded.

"It's not a good feeling, but it's better when you're staring at a two-goal lead," said Miller of coming into the game cold. "Thankfully we had the buffer and we had a good win. I thought the guys played a good game. Gibby was really sharp all night. It's too bad he had to leave."

Miller passed Tom Barrasso for sole possession of second place on the NHL's all-time games played list among U.S.-born goaltenders with his 778th.

Henrique credited Anaheim's defensive effort to "Clogging up the neutral zone. Both teams like to play off the rush and create chances that way. I thought we did a great job. Once we got comfortable with it, we settled in. We really started working. We were trying to force those guys to dump pucks."

The Ducks opened the scoring just 3:17 into the game when Carter Rowney swept a rebound into the open right half of the net after a Jack Campbell skate save.

Video: TOR@ANA: Rowney puts home rebound to kick off scoring

Campbell, the former Kings netminder, got the nod after former Duck Frederik Andersen started last night in LA and took the shootout loss despite shutting out the Kings through regulation and overtime.

"I thought we played a really good team game," Rowney said. "We were detailed. We limited our mistakes. We knew they had a high-powered offense. Overall, I think we played a full 60."

Anaheim came agonizingly close to making it a 2-0 game in the first 30 seconds of the middle frame after the puck got behind Campbell and settled in the crease, but no Ducks could get to it to finish the job.

Campbell was the main reason Toronto kept the lead 1-0 through two periods, making a number of big stops, including a lunging glove save on a wide open Ryan Getzlaf with just under a minute left in the second.

"I thought we did a great job," Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. "The primary objective was to jam that neutral zone up. I thought our guys did a hell of a job. It was muddy and deep coming through there for them. That's what we have to do against team teams with great skill like that."

The Ducks will look to make it five wins in the last seven Sunday when they take on the Minnesota Wild at Honda Center.

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