ANAHEIM – Two goaltenders matched each other blow by figurative blow well into the night until Zemgus Girgensons finally landed the knockout punch.
Girgensons scored in the 10th round of the shootout and Buffalo’s Anders Nilsson won a duel with the Ducks’ Jonathan Bernier on Friday night as the Sabres pulled out a 2-1 victory in front of an announced 14,556 at Honda Center.
Girgensons scored on Bernier after Nilsson stopped Ducks winger Nick Ritchie. The Ducks (37-23-11), who shot first, appeared to have the game won twice on scores by Ryan Getzlaf early and Brandon Montour in the ninth round, only to see Ryan O’Reilly and Rasmus Ristolainen answer for the Sabres.
Those were the only shootout goals as Nilsson, who made 39 saves in regulation and overtime, and Bernier (30 saves) also made numerous stops when it came to the one-on-one showdowns. Bernier’s personal four-game win streak came to an end.
“We definitely had our chances and so did they,” Ducks forward Rickard Rakell said. “It’s 50-50. It’s you against the goalie. Yeah, they beat us today.”
But the Ducks gained a point to stay in sole possession of second place, one above Calgary as the Flames defeated Dallas. With a game Saturday night at San Jose, the Ducks didn’t want to come away with no points against a lower-tier Eastern Conference team.
“You want to come out of every game with one or two points,” defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. “People start talking about this being a trap game. I don’t think it was a trap game. It’s a trap game if you don’t respect the opposition. But we definitely respected their skill.
“They’ve got some top-end guys over there and some really good forwards. We played them hard. We played well.”
Rakell stayed too hot to the touch. The winger scored for the fourth straight game, going to his backhand to bat in a rebound past Nilsson after Cam Fowler’s point shot created the favorable bounce.
Rakell now has 31 goals in his…