Ducks take down Canadiens for 4th win in 5 games

ANAHEIM — The Ducks had a sneak preview of what life would be after the trade deadline when they played without defensemen John Klingberg and Dmitry Kulikov against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday when the two were scratched for trade-related reasons.

Friday night was the real thing.

Klingberg and Kulikov are now former Ducks as they were dealt to Minnesota and Pittsburgh, respectively, before Friday’s midday trade deadline.

While the time leading up to the deadline wasn’t nearly as eventful as 2022 – when the Ducks shipped out three longtime and important players – Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell – they did move on from one-third of their defense corps.

It’s all about adapting to their changing circumstances.

“All the years that I coached in the American League, man, that would happen every day,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “You’d have all your meetings … and you lost two guys that were called up. No one gets too rattled by it.”

Hours after the deadline passed, the Ducks won, 3-2, against the Montreal Canadiens at Honda Center, their fourth win in the past five games. They were sparked by third-period, power-play goals from rookie center Mason McTavish and veteran forward Jakob Silfverberg. Montreal cut the Ducks’ lead to one goal when center Nick Suzuki scored with 30 seconds remaining.

McTavish had snapped the 1-1 tie at 11:01 when he fired a one-timer from the right circle past Canadiens goalie Sam Montembeault, beating him to the glove side.

“I definitely practice it a lot,” McTavish said of his one-timer. “At least try to. You get two guys out there, that’s all you need. (Assistant coach) CJ (Craig Johnson) was out giving me some (passes) there this morning.”

It was McTavish’s 14th goal of the season and 37th point, and Silfverberg gave the Ducks a two-goal lead, scoring his 10th of the season at 15:00. The Ducks were 2 for 3 on the power play against Montreal.

They closed well after getting off to one of their usual slow starts, giving up an early goal – just 1:16 into the game as Montreal forward Jonathan Drouin scored his first goal in more than a year. Drouin’s last goal was on Jan. 1, 2022 against Florida.

Jonathan Drouin taps the loose puck over the goal line for his first goal of the season!#GoHabsGo

— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 4, 2023

The response from the Ducks was quick. Fourth-liner Jayson Megna, who has been a healthy scratch two of the past four games, tied it at 4:20 of the first period, set up by Max Comtois who carried the puck with speed through the neutral zone.

“We did put an emphasis – as far as our game plan – to just get bodies and pucks to the net,” Megna said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”

Ducks coach Dallas Eakins tweaked the defense pairs from the previous game. Scott Harrington, who was claimed on waivers on Tuesday from New Jersey, had played on the third pair with Colton White against the Capitals. He was elevated to the top pair with Cam Fowler, moving to the right side with Cam Fowler on Friday. The other defensive pairings were Nathan Beaulieu-White and Simon Benoit-Kevin Shattenkirk.

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“There’s going to be some good chances for guys to play good minutes,” Fowler said. “I enjoyed my time with (Beaulieu) last game. I thought we did a good job. And I thought (Harrington) did well too. It might be a bit of a revolving door there.”

He noted that the trade deadline is always a difficult time of the year

“Especially for us the last few years in the position we’ve been in,” Fowler said. “We’ve understood there’s probably going to be more guys leaving than more guys coming in. That’s just the nature of the business when you’re in the situation that we’re in.

“All the guys that are moving on, we wish them the best. They were good guys. Good players for us. It is nice to know this is going to be our group going forward. Hopefully, we can build some chemistry that we can take into next season.”

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