Kase Closed: Ondrej Kase's first NHL goal helps Ducks down Canucks 3-1
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VANCOUVER — Randy Carlyle didn't know much about Ondrej Kase when the Anaheim Ducks promoted the rookie forward from the AHL.
That's just life when you're the 205th pick in the draft.
Kase's first NHL goal turned out to be the winner Thursday as Anaheim downed the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 for a third straight victory.
The 21-year-old Czech forward was a seventh-round selection back in 2014, but has found his way onto the Ducks' roster after starting the season with the San Diego Gulls.
"It's always good to see when you have a young kid that has kind of never been on your radar screen," said Carlyle, who is in his second stint as Anaheim's head coach. "We didn't even have him for training camp because he was injured and then he comes in and he's been an every-game player for us since we got him."
With his team already up 1-0, Kase — pronounced KAH-zey — doubled the Ducks' lead with 5:25 left in the second period when he caught Miller out of position before throwing a puck in front that caromed off Vancouver defenceman Nikita Tryamkin, the post and finally Erik Gudbranson before crossing the line.
"It's unbelievable," said Kase, who was playing his eighth NHL game after recording three goals and four assists in nine outings with San Diego. "It was a little bit lucky."
Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano had the other goals for Anaheim (12-8-4), while John Gibson finished with 27 stops.
"We're getting better at playing as a group night in and night out," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. "Our guys are doing a great job surrounding our net and not giving a whole lot up."
Henrik Sedin replied for Vancouver (10-12-2), while Miller stopped 21 shots in taking the loss as the Canucks saw their modest two-game winning streak snapped.
"Sometimes you work your butt off and you lose, but when you lose knowing you could have given a bit more it's very disappointing," said Vancouver defenceman Luca Sbisa. "I don't know why it happened. We had a lot of momentum going into this game, putting two wins together. I think it's something with our heads mentally.
"Obviously we didn't go into this game giving 100 per cent."
After dominating a scoreless first period, the Ducks took the lead 3:19 into the second when Cam Fowler was allowed to weave into offensive zone before dishing off to Silfverberg, who wired a one-timer past Miller for his eighth of the season.
Vancouver had a great opportunity to tie things up on a 58-second 5-on-3 power play, but Gibson, who was coming of a 39-save performance in Tuesday's 2-1 victory over Montreal, stopped Daniel Sedin on two point-blank chances before Brandon Sutter fanned on a loose puck in the slot.
"They have a good team, there's no question about it," said Henrik Sedin. "We're in this game. We're down 1-0. We get a 5-on-3 ... that's where the game turns."
After the Canucks failed to capitalize, Kase doubled the Anaheim advantage before Ryan Kesler, the former Vancouver forward who gets booed every time he touches the puck at Rogers Arena, ripped a shot off the post behind Miller that stayed out.
"Kase has actually been one of our best player since he's been here," said Getzlaf. "He works hard night in, night out, and he's making plays. Any time you see a guy get his first goal it's pretty exciting."
Vancouver finally got one back with seven minutes left in regulation when Henrik Sedin finished off a pass from Loui Eriksson after Fowler's clearing attempt took a bad bounce off the glass.
The Canucks continued to press in the dying moments, but Cogliano beat Miller on a shot through the five-hole that touched defenceman Troy Stecher's stick for his sixth with 2:35 left as Anaheim opened its three-game road trip through western Canada with a win.
"I was reading the release as glove side ... it just kind of skipped," Miller said of Cogliano's 50-foot effort. "Still, you want to be tight enough to cover that. It's not a great goal.
"I've got to get myself in a better position to react to that. It just kind of killed everything at that point."
Vancouver iced the youngest defence in the NHL for the second straight game with No. 1 pairing Alexander Edler (broken finger) and Christopher Tanev (lower body) both out injured. Tanev is getting closer to a return, while Edler is expected to be out four to six weeks.
"We knew going into this game our compete level had to be at its very best just to stand a chance against them," said Sbisa. "That compete level just wasn't there and that's pretty disappointing."
Notes: Vancouver concludes a three-game homestand Saturday against Toronto. ... Anaheim visits Edmonton on Saturday before travelling to Calgary the following night.
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