The Anaheim Ducks’ struggles against the Arizona Coyotes this season continued with their most recent series as the Ducks were swept. Their season record against the Coyotes is now 2-4-2 following another game where the Ducks failed to hold onto a lead once again.
Alexander Volkov was finally able to make his Ducks debut after finishing his seven-day quarantine session. The Ducks had a few days off following their game against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday, which meant that Volkov only missed three games following his acquisition from the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 24. The 23-year-old skated on a youthful line with 21-year-old Isac Lundestrom and 22-year-old Max Comtois.
It was a brilliant debut for Volkov as he scored his first goal as a Duck and could have had two, if not for a timely block by the stick of Christian Dvorak. Volkov’s role with Tampa Bay was mostly one that involved time on the third and fourth lines and the winger will most likely reprise that role with the Ducks, given his forechecking ability, two-way play and versatility. But, the Volkov line was elevated to the top line for Sunday night’s game after performing well on Friday. It was a nice reward for the trio of young players, who look to have meshed quickly.
Sam Carrick has been a key cog over the past several seasons for the San Diego Gulls, the Ducks’ AHL affiliate. The forward was recalled on Sunday and centered the third line between Trevor Zegras and Max Jones, two players with whom he has played with when the two youngsters were playing for the Gulls. The chemistry was evident as Zegras and Carrick connected on the Ducks’ first goal. Zegras made a nifty feed to Carrick in front of the net after intercepting a reversal from a Coyotes defenseman.
“When Max Jones turned pro, he played with Sammy Carrick. When Trevor Zegras turned pro, he played with Sammy Carrick. And that’s not by accident. You put young players with excellent, high-character vets like Sammy so it was an easy line to put together and obviously there was chemistry there.” Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins via Bally Sports West
This marks back-to-back games in which a Duck has scored a goal in their season debut.
John Gibson headed back on injured reserve and he was joined by a pair of new faces. Rickard Rakell and Sam Steel were also placed on IR prior to Friday night’s game. Add Ryan Getzlaf and Troy Terry to that long list of injuries as the captain suffered an upper-body injury in Friday’s game early in the second period and did not return. Terry played the entire game but was not in Sunday night’s lineup, presumably due to injury. These injuries necessitated the promotion of Carrick to the big club and the reintroduction of veteran David Backes into the lineup.
Per the #NHL roster report this morning, John Gibson, Hampus Lindholm, Sonny Milano, Carter Rowney, Rickard Rakell and Sam Steel are on injured reserve. Plus, Ryan Getzlaf was forced from last night's game by an upper body injury.— Elliott Teaford (@ElliottTeaford) April 3, 2021
The good news though is that Gibson’s placement on IR was retroactive, which meant he was able to return for Sunday’s game. The netminder had missed the previous three games with a lower-body injury. He wasn’t tested much early in his first game back, but the Coyotes piled on the pressure as the game progressed, finishing with 31 shots on net at the end of the night.
Derek Grant has been a bit of a cult figure since the early beginnings of his Ducks career. Fondly known to many as “Elite 1C”, the 30-year-old is now in his fourth stint with the club, having returned to the Ducks this past offseason on a three-year deal. No matter what role he has played during his time with the Ducks, he has done so remarkably and with consistency. His temporary installment on the first line several seasons ago which earned him the “Elite 1C” moniker demonstrated that he could fill in anywhere on the forward lines.
A goal on Sunday means that he now has four points––three of them goals––in his last six games along with a plus-2 rating. The fourth line trio of Grant, Nicolas Deslauriers and Carter Rowney was a constant last season up until Grant was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers at the trade deadline, but this season has seen the three veterans separated and even occasionally scratched. Rowney suffered a torn meniscus on Feb. 22 against the Coyotes and surgery to repair it effectively ended his season.
The Ducks will now embark on a short road trip up to San Jose to face the Sharks on Tuesday before returning home to face the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. The Ducks are 2-3-0 against the Sharks this season and will be looking to even up their record against their Northern California rivals. The Sharks have won their last four games and a lot of that is thanks to the play of goaltender Martin Jones. The former Los Angeles King sports a .942 save percentage (SV%) along with a 4-0-0 record during the Sharks’ current winning streak.
Evander Kane, Tomas Hertl and Rudolfs Balcers have been the main offensive catalysts as of late, combining for 12 points. Kane in particular has been a thorn in the side of the Ducks this season with seven points in five games against the Black and Orange. Keeping him off the scoresheet should be the main priority.