Ducks defeat Devils in dramatic fashion thanks to Dostál

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
The Ducks edged out a 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils thanks to Lukáš Dostál's 52 saves.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – It was a quick turnaround for the Ducks after a 6-4 victory in San Jose last night against the Sharks. The New Jersey Devils came into town with their last game being two days ago, a 7-2 drubbing of the aforementioned Sharks.

The Ducks were without the services of Leo Carlsson––who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury––and Cam Fowler, who suffered a facial laceration less than a minute into last night’s game against the San Jose Sharks after absorbing a Fabian Zetterlund slap shot.

Frank Vatrano opened the scoring for Anaheim just three minutes and thirty-seven seconds into the game, beating Nico Daws from in close after some strong work along the boards from Mason McTavish.

Radko Gudas, who donned the ‘A’ alongside Adam Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg with Fowler out, lined up Jack Hughes with a sound, open-ice hip check in the defensive zone. Curtis Lazar didn’t like the physicality being dealt to his star teammate and dropped the gloves with Gudas in response. Lazar was given a two-minute minor for instigating as well as a 10-minute misconduct.

The Devils would tie the game with less than three minutes in the first. Timo Meier pounced on a loose puck to pot his 12th goal of the season. But the Ducks would answer back less than a minute later courtesy of Adam Henrique. The former Devil collected the puck behind the net in the offensive zone and swept it past Nico Daws all in one motion.

That goal tied Henrique with another former Devil in Scott Niedermayer for 10th on the Ducks’ all-time points list (264). Henrique now has 10 points in 12 games against his old club.

After losing Carlsson for the back end of the third period in last night’s game, Anaheim would also be without the services of Mason McTavish past the first period against the Devils. He was tripped up by Kevin Bahl prior to Vatrano’s goal in the first and though he finished the period, he did not come out for the second and was deemed questionable to return with an upper-body injury.

That didn’t stop the Ducks from doubling their lead in the second though as Max Jones scored the hosts’ third goal of the night, redirecting a shot from the point by Gustav Lindström. The Devils drew within one after Jack Hughes beat Lukáš Dostál from the left faceoff dot on the power play, but Anaheim would respond minutes later.

Vatrano potted his second goal of the game off a terrific display of passing from both Radko Gudas and Troy Terry. Vatrano’s deke to the backhand to pull Daws out of position before depositing the puck past him wasn’t too shabby either. Vatrano is now one goal away from the first 30-goal campaign of his career.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some great guys this year and put in great spots to succeed,” said Vatrano. “If it wasn’t for those guys (that) help me and make me better, I wouldn’t be in this position right now.”

Akira Schmid entered the game to begin the third for New Jersey and perhaps was the stabilizing force that the Devils needed to get back into the game. He stopped all nine of the shots that he faced and was pulled for the extra attacker with 3:37 remaining in the period as the Devils pushed for two goals.

They would get one back on the power play with 2:57 remaining. Luke Hughes’ shot from the point through traffic caromed off the post and Tyler Toffoli was on hand to put home the rebound into a wide-open net.

The highest dramatics of the night were saved for 2.1 seconds remaining in the third. As the Ducks scrambled to keep the puck out of their net in the closing seconds of the period, Frank Vatrano purposely shoved the net off its moorings. The referees deemed this not only a penalty for delay of game but a penalty shot as well.

Jack Hughes was the recipient of the penalty shot attempt, but he couldn’t solve Dostál and the Czech goaltender gave a big fist pump after stopping the shot. In total, Dostál stopped 52 shots and little blame could be placed on him for the three goals that he did allow.

Mar 1, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks goaltender Lukas Dostal (1) stops the penalty shot by New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) during the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Humble as always, the netminder downplayed the save he made in the most crucial moment of the game: “Just trusting myself (and knowing that) it’s part of the game. I’ve just got to stop (the shot) and I’m glad that I did.”

“Give credit to Dostál,” said head coach Greg Cronin. “He was the best player on the ice and deservedly won the game for us.”

“He’s very dialed in,” said Jones, who had both a goal and an assist on the night. “Even on practice days (and) off days, you can see that he really takes care of his body and what he needs to do as a professional. I find that really rare with young guys that come into the league. You kind of have to push them, I know I kind of had to do that and figure out my way as a pro. It seems like he’s got a good grasp of that.”

“We actually had to carry some medicine out to him during the second period,” said Cronin, referring to Dostál. “And I asked him after the period, ‘Are you going to be okay to do the third?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I’ll be fine.’ Very humble about it. He was obviously dialed in and focused, he did a great job.’”