The Anaheim Ducks have struggled to outscore their opponents lately, and that’s predictably led to plenty of losses. After another rough series against the Arizona Coyotes, the Ducks made the trip up north to face the San Jose Sharks for a one-off road trip. Their offensive prowess was on full display in the Bay Area.
The Ducks’ leading goalscorers – Adam Henrique and Max Comtois – both tickled the twine Tuesday night and are locked in a tie for the team lead in goals with 11. Comtois’ goal came on the power play, his first special teams tally of the season. That’s now three points for Comtois in his last four games.
It’s been quite a season for Henrique. After being placed on waivers on Feb. 20, the veteran center responded with a goal in his first game back. He posted four points and a minus-8 rating in 16 games prior to being waived, but since then has 12 points and a minus-3 rating in 19 games. His shooting percentage has risen as well and he’s also scored some timely goals with two game-winners (both in overtime) on the season.
Sam Carrick has only played 36 games in the NHL but he’s intent on making this latest call-up one in which he’ll be able to stick around for a while. The forward scored a goal in his first game of the season for the Ducks on Sunday and followed it up with an assist last night. The 29-year-old has also dropped the gloves in both games and is doing everything he can to show head coach Dallas Eakins that he deserves to stay in the lineup.
Carrick has been in the Ducks organization for five seasons now and has been a steady veteran presence for the San Diego Gulls, the Ducks’ AHL affiliate. Named Gulls captain in 2019, Carrick has plenty of experience playing with some of the Ducks’ young core and has proven to be a good fit for both the Ducks and the Gulls.
It’s been a rough year for the Ducks’ usual fourth line of Derek Grant, Nic Deslauriers, and Carter Rowney. Last season, the trio was a constant force in Eakins’ lineup and was arguably one of the most consistent lines. This season, however, has seen the three forwards not only split up but scratched as well. Rowney’s season ended prematurely in February after he tore his meniscus, which opened the door for veteran David Backes to get in a few more games.
To say Backes’ Ducks career has been tumultuous would be an understatement. The 36-year-old has only played in 12 games in 2020-21, and earlier this season he reflected on how he’s taking every moment in the remainder of his NHL career as a blessing. (from ‘After the turbulence in Boston, David Backes motivated to end career on his terms,’ The Athletic, 02/04/21)
“I got perspective that I think a lot of guys don’t get until their career is actually over. And I’ve got a second life to make good on all those things that as I look back and said, ‘What are my regrets?’ What I wish I would have kind of (done) things that I had in my career? Which I’m not taking for granted at all.” -David Backes
The grizzled vets did their part on Tuesday night, with Deslauriers and Backes both getting on the scoresheet. The pair had two points apiece and Deslauriers was plus-3 while Backes was plus-2. Grant, who scored on Sunday, had an assist and was plus-1 on Tuesday night.
The Ducks now return home to face Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche are currently on a five-game winning streak – they’ll play Minneosta on Wednesday before making the trip to Anaheim. The streak started with a win against the Ducks, and MacKinnon, the former Halifax Moosehead, has been the catalyst. He has nine points and a plus-6 rating in the last five games.
Defenseman Cale Makar has also been his usual stellar self since returning from injured reserve on March 18. The 22-year-old is averaging a point per game since his return from injury and sports a plus-12 rating. To top it all off, he also has scored two game-winning goals during that span. It will be essential for the Ducks to keep these two quiet offensively.