ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Nick Ritchie realizes he is occupying one of the sweetest spots in hockey on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry for the Anaheim Ducks.
The 20-year-old power forward is doing his best to take advantage.
Ritchie scored the tiebreaking goal on a rebound with 8:36 to play, Getzlaf had three assists and the Ducks finally opened their home schedule with a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.
Ritchie batted a pop-fly rebound of Getzlaf’s shot out of mid-air for his first goal of the season. After six games alongside the Ducks’ twin franchise pillars, Ritchie finally got a reward for his work — and Getzlaf even called it Ritchie’s best game of the season.
“I think I’m getting used to it,” Ritchie said. “They’re obviously premier players, but tonight we looked good together, and hopefully we can keep that going. … It’s big (to score). It’s encouraging that I’m staying together with them.”
Andrew Cogliano, Cam Fowler and Perry also scored for the Ducks, who have won two straight after a four-game winless start. John Gibson made 17 saves in the Western Conference’s final home opener, thanks to a schedule that forced Anaheim to play in five teams’ home debuts this month.
“Up until the last two games, we hadn’t put 60 minutes together,” Fowler said. “It was nice to get a big win in Philadelphia and carry that over to the home opener where there’s a lot of energy.”
Henrik Sedin scored the tying goal early in the third period for the Canucks, who lost in regulation for the first time this season after a punishing shootout loss in Los Angeles one night earlier. Bo Horvat scored a short-handed goal , and Loui Eriksson had two assists.
“I think from the puck drop, we weren’t ready,” said Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa, a former Anaheim blueliner. “They outplayed us, out-battled us. We were very sloppy, especially through the neutral zone. We made uncharacteristic plays and it cost us.”
Ryan Miller made 33 saves in his first outing since opening night for the Canucks. The veteran stopped every shot he faced while beating Calgary, but missed the next four games with an injury.
Fowler made up for the turnover that led to Horvat’s goal when he put a long wrist shot past Miller, getting his third goal in an outstanding start to the season. Fowler has featured prominently in trade rumors this year tied to the Ducks’ attempts to re-sign holdout defenseman Hampus Lindholm under their budget.
“I’ve always felt that I can contribute in the offensive end,” Fowler said. “I worked really hard this summer on my offensive game. … It’s nice to see a few go in early. It always helps with your confidence.”
After Ritchie’s tiebreaker, Perry got his third goal of the season with 1:17 to play after a nasty shot fakethat caused Alexander Edler to topple.
“I don’t know if we paid for, a little bit, trying to get back against LA,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. “I hope that’s what it is. I thought we were tired as a group. I thought our defensemen were tired. LA is a big, heavy team, and they may have worn a little bit on our defensemen.”
Forward Joseph Cramarossa made his NHL debut for the Ducks after being recalled from San Diego on Saturday along with defenseman Shea Theodore and forward Michael Sgarbossa, who made their season debuts. Cramarossa, a third-round pick by the Ducks in 2011, spent the past three seasons in the AHL.
“I was just sitting there thinking about how long I’ve waited for this,” Cramarossa said. “It was amazing. Everyone back home watching was sharing that with me. I’ve been waiting so long, and I knew when I got the chance, I’d be ready.”
NOTES: Anaheim has hosted the Canucks five times in its home opener, more than any other opponent. … The Ducks have won 12 of their last 17 against Vancouver. … Two longtime Canucks, center Ryan Kesler and defenseman Kevin Bieksa, logged major minutes for Anaheim as usual.
Canucks: Back home to host Ottawa on Tuesday after this winless two-game trip to Southern California.
Ducks: They’re at San Jose on Tuesday for their sixth road game out of seven to start the season.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.