Ducks, Dostál blank Blackhawks for first shutout of the season

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
The Ducks snapped their seven-game losing streak thanks to two goals from Alex Killorn and a 29-save shutout from Lukáš Dostál, the first of his NHL career.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Ducks welcomed Connor Bedard and the Chicago Blackhawks to Honda Center on Wednesday night for their first and only trip to Anaheim this season. After falling 7-2 to the Blackhawks last week in Chicago, the Ducks were looking to snap their seven-game losing streak.

A scoreless first period saw only a sprinkle of penalties, with Ross Johnston and Jarred Tinordi dropping the gloves and Ryan Strome later getting the gate for cross checking. The second was where Anaheim found their groove, scoring three goals during the period.

Alex Killorn put the hosts on top three minutes into the second with a nifty deflection of Gustav Lindström’s point shot. Six minutes later, Brett Leason would double the lead with a wicked wrist shot. Then, with 94 seconds remaining in the period, Killorn would get his second of the game. His snap shot around Connor Bedard beat Arvid Söderblom blocker side and gave him the 15th multi-goal game of his career. He now has six goals in his last 10 games.

“I think it’s just the ebbs and flows of the season,” said Killorn when asked about what’s been behind his recent run of goals. “Coming here (in the offseason) and getting hurt, kind of being frustrated about scoring. Typically over a season, it kind of evens itself out. I’m happy that it’s coming, I just want to continue to do that for the rest of the season.”

For all the fanfare that taking a big lead gave, a dark cloud loomed in the background after Leo Carlsson collided knees with Blackhawks defenseman Alex Vlasic and went down in a heap. The Swede was noticeably frustrated and had to be assisted off the ice. He went immediately to the locker room and did not return. Ryan Strome dropped the gloves with Vlasic 15 seconds into the third period, surely as retribution for the collision with Carlsson.

“(Strome) made a decision that he was going to try and make a statement for his teammate,” said head coach Greg Cronin. “I thought it was an honorable thing to do, but I don’t think Vlasic tried to (injure Carlsson).”

This is just the latest instance of what’s been an unlucky season for the Ducks in the health department. Killorn and Carlsson along with Troy Terry, Mason McTavish and (most notably) Trevor Zegras have all missed time this season with various injuries, causing Cronin to put together makeshift forward lines at times. As a whole, the five players have played just two games together this season.

Frank Vatrano would give Anaheim a 4-0 lead in the third, potting his 30th goal of the season on a 5-on-3 advantage. The goal snapped a nine-game goalscoring drought and gave Vatrano the first 30-goal season of his NHL career. It was a night of milestones as Lukáš Dostál also earned the first shutout of his NHL career. It was also the Ducks’ first shutout of the season.

“He’s been sitting on 29 for a little bit,” said Killorn. “Just nice for him to get that and not have to worry about that anymore. He’s playing great hockey. (Dostál’s) a great, young goalie and he’s going to have a lot of shutouts in this league. Nice to see him get his first.”

“We played a great game,” said Dostál. “We just played a simple game. We put the puck deep and we played the right way and we got rewarded tonight. I’m just happy for the win.”

“I thought the first period, we were a little bit tentative. We weren’t getting shots through” said Cronin. “Then as the game went on, I thought we got more confident. Then we got that first goal, you could feel a lot of weight lift off the bench. Third period, we played a smart game with a 3-0 lead. I thought we did a good job keeping them to the outside.”

“I liked the way we only had one (penalty kill),” said Killorn. “I liked the way we made some adjustments, that was good. We ended up scoring on the power play. We won the special teams battle and 5-on-5.”