ANAHEIM, Calif. | Goals have been hard to come by for the Anaheim Ducks. Seeing the puck go in the net Sunday night provided some much-needed relief.
Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell each scored his first goal of the season and the Ducks held on for a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Hampus Lindholm added an empty-net goal for the Ducks, who had not scored more than two goals in their first five games.
“Any time players like that can pick up a point or score a goal, it is just a massive weight lifted off their shoulders. And they carry it because they care,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said.
John Gibson provided another strong start in net, making 32 saves to improve to 2-0-2 in his last four starts. But, it was signs of life on offense that had Anaheim buzzing to wrap up a four-game homestand.
The Ducks jumped out to a lead in the first 58 seconds. Silfverberg scored on a wrist shot through traffic off a faceoff win by Adam Henrique, giving Anaheim its first lead in the first period this season.
Rakell made it 2-0 at 9:05 of the second, beating Grubauer to the glove side off a centering pass from Ryan Getzlaf. Eakins believes putting Rakell, who has scored 33 goals combined the past two seasons following consecutive 30-goal campaigns, alongside the Ducks captain should help the 27-year-old winger rediscover his offense.
“Rather than Raks looking to be the playmaker, he can look to let Ryan do that. Ryan’s been excellent at that his whole career, and Ricky can get back in the business of finishing,” Eakins said.
Mikko Rantanen scored in a career-best fifth straight game, and Philipp Grubauer made 12 saves for the Avalanche. Colorado had been averaging 3.4 goals.
Rantanen broke through at 14:46 of the third, scoring on a rebound. Lindholm scored with 1:40 remaining.
Rantanen has five goals and two assists in his last five games.
“We definitely haven’t hit our stride,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “I think as a four-line team we still have some work to do, and some of that is just getting rewarded for some hard work. But I don’t mind the fact we’re 3-3 after six games. … It’s not a bad thing as long as we respond and play the way we can and work the way we can.”
SHUT ’EM DOWN
Anaheim had to withstand plenty of pressure from Colorado’s dynamic top line and offensively-gifted defensemen, with Nathan MacKinnon striking both the post and crossbar, and Cale Makar hitting the crossbar in the first period. The Avalanche was 0 for 4 on the power play after scoring at least one goal in each of its first five games, with MacKinnon drawing iron on special teams late in the first.
MIX IT UP
J.T. Compher centered the Avalanche’s second line, while Nazem Kadri was demoted to the third line. Bednar had been critical of a lack of production from the Kadri-led second line throughout the four-game road trip, and his minus-2 performance in a 3-2 overtime win against the Ducks on Friday prompted Bednar to make a change. Swapping the centers wasn’t the only move Bednar made as Ryan Graves was a healthy scratch after posting a minus-5 through the first five games, the only Colorado defenseman with a negative plus-minus rating.
BACK AT IT
Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky returned after missing three games because of an upper-body injury. He played 13:16 with a minus-1 rating and took one shot.
Avalanche: Host the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.
Ducks: Visit the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night.