Yesterday the Anaheim Ducks played the second half of a back-to-back homestead — one of the few times they will this season. Viktor Fasth got the nod to start, as Jonas Hiller got lit up the night prior in a 5-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
The game against the Nashville Predators would be Fasth’s NHL debut. A debut where the 30-year-old Swedish goalie proved to Anaheim he has what it takes to play in this league by pulling off a shootout win in a game that his team easily should’ve lost.
The moment after the opening faceoff, the Ducks’ were off to a slow start. In the first few minutes, it was apparent that the Ducks were playing carelessly and weren’t skating. It showed early on when the Predators’ Brandon Yip scored on a 2-on-1 break. The goal deflated a team that, by the looks of it, appeared to have already been defeated.
The first 59 mins of hockey were painful to watch — the only positive I could draw from it was I was getting paid to watch the game. The Ducks looked flat-footed, couldn’t connect on passes, turned over the puck and showed hardly any signs of puck control. I certainly thought I had a long night ahead.
In the final minute of the 2nd, things started to look up for the Ducks after an innocent play. Cam Fowler threw a shot at the net from the right point and Bobby Ryan got the deflection that beat Pekke Rinne to tie the game at one. Midway through the third, David Legwand was able to pick up Fasth’s fat rebound and put it in around him as Fasth had all sorts of traffic around his crease. Ducks were quick to answer though as, once again, Daniel Winnik put his name on the score sheet. Winnik was able to get the backhand shot away off of a centering pass from Corey Perry. That would be Winnik’s fifth goal in the first four games.
In overtime, both goaltenders made timely saves. Unfortunately for Rinne, that is what’s expected of him. Fasth has yet had the opportunity to make any name for himself, but he made a good first impression after last night. As the game entered into a shootout, it went to the second round without a goal from either team. Then, Perry took center ice and did his signature shootout move. He started out wide and found some daylight between the pads of Rinne for a goal. The game was now solely in the hands of Fasth — welcome to the NHL, right? Legwand would fail on his shot attempt solidifying not only a win for Anaheim, but Fasth’s first ever NHL win.
Somehow after Anaheim showed no life for the first 59 minutes, Fasth shined. “He’s just calm as a cucumber,” says coach Bruce Boudreau. Whatever that means, I hope Fasth continues to keep his cucumber cool.