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Ducks make strides but lose to Bruins via shootout

BOSTON — A tame game turned into an overtime thriller.

What else would you expect from the Ducks?  From a team that doesn’t seem to have the word ‘boring’ in its vocabulary.

For the first time since their season opener, the Ducks showed resilience, not faltering when things inevitably became tough on Thursday night at TD Garden and managed to leave Boston with a point, losing 2-1 in a shootout. They had dropped three straight games after winning the season opener in overtime.

“It’s probably the best game we’ve played so far this year,” Ducks goaltender John Gibson said.

Center Derek Grant agreed, calling it “a big step for our group.”

The Ducks rallied from a goal down, kept hanging around, stayed resolute and the game went to overtime where it turned into a battle between Gibson and Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark. Among the many highlights: Ullmark stopping the Ducks’ Ryan Strome on a breakaway, and Gibson making a sprawling save on David Pastrnak.

In the shootout, the Bruins’ Taylor Hall was the lone player to score. The Ducks’ Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry, Kevin Shattenkirk and Max Comtois could not solve Ullmark in the shootout.

“We’ll take the things we did better and applaud that and we’ll take the things we didn’t do so well and do our best to fix them as fast as possible,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “That’s how it is every night.

“We’re not planning a parade off that game. We played better. We still lost one of the points and we want them both.”

Said Gibson, of the power play which went 0 for 4: “We’ve got to find a way to score on the power play. We had some big opportunities there to make or break games. We’ve got to keep taking steps forward.”

The Ducks’ lone goal in regulation came on a one-timer from Frank Vatrano off a slick feed from rookie Mason McTavish, tying the score at 1-1 at 6:03 of the second period. Vatrano started his NHL career with the Bruins, playing 108 games and scoring 20 goals. So fans here certainly know that he has a shot-first mentality.

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Another positive for the Ducks: their embattled penalty kill was much improved. The visitors killed off the Bruins’ first three power plays, allowing just three shots on goal.

An even bigger test faced the Ducks early in the third when defenseman Nathan Beaulieu went off for delay of game (puck over glass) at 2:46 and the Ducks’ penalty killers dug deep and held the Bruins without a shot on goal on the power play.

“I thought our killers did a great job,” Eakins said, highlighting Derek Grant and Jakob Silfverberg’s efforts. “Our D were solid. It’s been a sore point early. Much better effort. Much better detail.”

It was one of those nights when Vatrano was in the middle of everything. He took a cross-checking penalty less than two minutes into the game, a less-than-ideal start for a team struggling on the penalty kill. But the Ducks were able to kill it and they were able to go into the first intermission tied at 0-0 because of a good challenge for offside by Eakins, nullifying what appeared to be a goal by Jake DeBrusk at 15:50.

“Our game plan – one of the last things we said to the team going into it was – let’s play behind them,” Eakins said. “Their D do a great job standing up. They’ve got great back pressure. And we had a couple of our lines who refused to do it. … As we got on further in the game, we started to employ our game plan better and things suddenly, you start getting rewarded.”

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