Nick Ritchie scored his first NHL goal Monday in the Ducks’ 7-1 rout of the New Jersey Devils at the Honda Center. His goal was the Ducks’ sixth of the night against Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid, and might have otherwise been forgettable. But it was his first of his career. Coincidentally, his parents arrived from Toronto and were in the Honda Center to bear witness to their son’s first goal.
“I was pretty excited,” said Ritchie, 20. “It was 5-1 there, so it was kind of a meaningless goal (to make it 6-1), but with your first one, it means something. Some of the guys were excited, as well. I’m going to remember that one for a while. You’re more worried about playing the game and helping the team out, but to get it out of the way and move forward feels good. Maybe there’s a little bit of weight lifted off. Hopefully, I’m better for it moving on.”
The Ducks sent right wing Chris Stewart back to Orange County on Friday to have his injured jaw examined further, according to news reports. They also recalled forward Nick Ritchie from the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League in order to take Stewart’s place on the roster. Stewart was injured during a fight with the Blue Jackets’ Dalton Prout during a 4-3 shootout loss Thursday in Columbus.
Stewart is the Ducks’ seventh-leading scorer with 18 points, including eight goals. The 20-year-old Ritchie made his NHL debut Nov. 16. He had one assist in 11 games with the Ducks. He also has 15 goals and 28 points in 33 games with the Ducks this season.
DUCKS AT HURRICANES
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Update: Ducks rookie Nick Ritchie is set to make his NHL debut Monday against the Carolina Hurricanes. He skated with center Ryan Kesler and right wing Chris Stewart during the morning skate, according to reports from Raleigh, N.C. “Obviously they’re both pretty good players in this league,” Ritchie told reporters. “It’s going to be a pretty good opportunity for me tonight. I’m just going to play my game and, hopefully, I can help those guys.”
The Ducks recalled Ritchie and Michael Sgarbossa from their AHL team in San Diego on Saturday, hoping the Gulls’ one-two scoring punch can bolster their wonky offense going into a four-game trip that begins today in Raleigh, N.C. The 19-year-old Ritchie has nine goals in 12 games while playing on a line with Sgarbossa. Ritchie was a first-round draft pick in 2014 (10th overall). The Ducks have points in six of their last seven games to improve to 5-8-4 after a 1-7-2 start to the season. They were fifth in the Pacific Division at the start of business around the league Sunday. They also were last in the NHL with only 29 goals in 17 games. Corey Perry leads the Ducks with five goals and 11 points.
Carolina is 6-9-2 after a loss Saturday to the Philadelphia Flyers.