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Recap: Ducks Erase Early Deficit, Pull Off Impressive Comeback vs. Sabres

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

ANAHEIM -- It's still early in the season, but the Ducks are proving they're never really out of the fight no matter how one-sided it might appear. Trailing by a pair of goals late in the opening frame, the Ducks rallied with an enormous second period to pull off a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Honda Center on Wednesday. The Ducks improved to 5-2-0 overall and 3-0 at home, while handing the Sabres their first regulation loss of the season (5-1-1).

After the Sabres opened the contest with goals from Jack Eichel and Victor Olofsson, the game seemed to be quickly slipping away from the Ducks' grasp. Instead of cracking, the Ducks regrouped. They took in a collective breath and got back to work. Adam Henrique cut the deficit in half with a tip-in goal at the 18:40 mark of the first period. It was a big goal at a crucial juncture, and a goal that gave them (and their fans) life.

Video: BUF@ANA: Henrique scores on deft redirection

As we've seen with the 2019-20 Ducks, they've shown an ability to refocus during intermissions. When the second period hit, the Ducks came out soaring. Rickard Rakell lit the lamp just 57 seconds into the middle frame on a nice move that got Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark to bite on the initial deke. Just like that, the game was tied.

Video: BUF@ANA: Rakell capitalizes on turnover to tie it

"We had a bit of a slow start (tonight) obviously, but I thought we did a good job with some pushback and responding as we talked about in between periods," said Henrique, who finished the game with two goals, three hits, three blocked shots and a +4 rating in 15:19 TOI. "We're putting this one behind us. Put it in the bank and move forward and prepare for the next game."

The Ducks came into tonight's game without a power-play goal - a stretch that reached 16 unsuccessful attempts until Ryan Getzlaf finally broke through at the 9:14 mark of the second period. The 34-year-old veteran played a game of catch with 21-year-old Sam Steel, as both players set up shop at opposing faceoff dots. Getzlaf, at the left dot, fired a pass across to Steel at the right circle. Steel quickly sent a pass back to the Ducks captain, who one-timed it home to give the Ducks a 3-2 lead.

Video: BUF@ANA: Getzlaf buries Steel's feed for PPG

"It was good," said Getzlaf, on converting with the man advantage. "We put a lot of work into it the last couple days and it was nice to get rewarded when we went out there. Even early in the game we had some good movement, had some good shots, those kind of things and it was nice to get rewarded."

Henrique provided an insurance marker with just 12.5 seconds left in the second period when he finished off a pass from Max Comtois to give the Ducks a 4-2 lead and send the crowd of 15,193 into a frenzy.

Video: BUF@ANA: Henrique nets second goal of the game

The Ducks limited the NHL's deadliest power play to just one goal with the man advantage on seven attempts tonight. The Sabres entered tonight's game with nine goals on 21 power plays (42.9%). "Our kill was excellent," said Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins. "It was a pretty physical and contested game. [Buffalo's power play] is very dangerous, but our penalty killing and obviously Gibby being a big part of that as well, they were excellent."

Despite this being a game between two teams that only see each other twice a year, the Ducks and Sabres went at it like two hardened division rivals. It included a moment in the second period when Ullmark tackled Ducks left wing Nick Ritchie after the whistle. When the dust settled, 42 minutes of penalties were issued.

The Ducks held firm in the third period, and put the game away when Jakob Silfverberg sent a puck nearly the entire length of the ice into an empty net. John Gibson finished the game with 31 saves on 33 shots to improve his record this season to 4-2-0.

Video: BUF@ANA: Silfverberg scores empty-net goal

The Ducks will look to remain perfect at home on Friday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at Honda Center.

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