The result usually matters little in the preseason, and a 2-1 defeat to the visiting Arizona Coyotes hardly overshadowed the reality that Ducks hockey is back.
The Ducks played without most of their regulars in the opening tilt of a seven-game preseason slate at Honda Center.
With a number of Ducks still making their way back - or currently competing in - the World Cup in Toronto, the Ducks iced a lineup with only a few familiar faces. Among them were defensemen Cam Fowler and Korbinian Holzer along with wingers Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Garbutt. The rest of the lineup was made up of Ducks prospects and newcomers like winger Mason Raymond, 2016 draftee Max Jones and center Antoine Vermette.
"It was just a feeling-out process in terms of how we're going to do things," Cogliano said. "It was a pretty scrambly game all around. It wasn't too good of a game, but hopefully the more we play, and more we get comfortable, it just gets better."
A good amount of those active tonight will likely spend the season with Anaheim's AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls, but they got a good taste of NHL action tonight.
It was actually a former Gull who opened the scoring in the game, after a mostly uneventful first, when Arizona center Chris Mueller buried a shot from the left wing on a 2-on-1.
Youngster Matt Hackett started the game in the Anaheim net and was replaced by Kevin Boyle midway through the second. Of his performance, Hackett said, "It's hard to tell since it was only half a game. I'm happy with it, but I would've liked that goal back. I played with Mueller last year, and he's more of a passer."
Anaheim got even with 11:51 left in the period when a rebound off Coyotes goalie Justin Peters caromed right to young winger Antoine Laganiere, who deposited it into the open net.
Video: Antoine Laganiere buries the rebound to tie the game
"I just think some young kids got their first taste of NHL hockey," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, who coached his first game after returning to the Ducks last summer. "You could tell, in some situations, it was overwhelming from the pressure and the speed Arizona was able to apply. I thought they got better as the game went on. We didn't create enough from an offensive standpoint, but I thought the speed of our hockey club was evident. When we transition the puck, we can skate and get on people."
Arizona went up for good with 11:10 left in the game when Henrik Samuelsson sprang from the penalty box, took a feed from former Duck Jamie McGinn and put the puck past Boyle.
That made it 2-1, and that's the way it ended for a Ducks team that will have a chance to get back at it tomorrow in LA.