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All-Star Frank Vatrano Thriving With Anaheim Ducks

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Frank Vatrano celebrates his second of a three-goal night against the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 15 in Anaheim. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

SUNRISE — Less than two years removed from being cast off from the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers, Frank Vatrano is lighting it up for the Anaheim Ducks.

Through his first 43 games, Vatrano has 21 goals and 33 points, which is on pace to crush his career highs of 24 goals and 39 points he set with the Panthers in 2018-19.

He was rewarded by being selected as Anaheim’s representative in the 2024 All-Star game in Toronto next month.

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“I think his confidence is a lot higher than it used to be,” said Radko Gudas, who played with Vatrano in Florida and now with Anaheim.

“Just him shooting the puck and being confident with the puck, you can see he’s feeling good and putting the pucks in. And if you have success early in the season, obviously, it’s going to carry out through the whole season.”

During Vatrano’s hottest stretch, one in which he scored nine goals in the first month of the season, the young Ducks were a playoff team.

And, while Vatrano has continued to get on the scoresheet, Anaheim has fallen down the Western Conference standings quite drastically since then.

He was more concerned about talking about that than any of his accomplishments.

“I think my personal success is great, but obviously, I want to help the team win as much as possible,” Vatrano said.

“We have a good, young team, and I’m trying to help those guys learn. But at the end of the day, I’m trying to play my very best and help this team every night, and things are just going the right way for me personally this year.”

Vatrano has helped out the young talent on and off the ice in Anaheim.

Mason McTavish, 20, was Vatrano’s linemate during that scorching-hot stretch in October, and he is second on the team in goals (12) and points (27).

His experiences and leadership on and off the ice have provided an example for one of the younger rosters in the league to follow.

After all, he has seen a lot of highs — scoring 20 goals on multiple occasions — and a lot of lows — such as his abrupt departure from Florida after scoring 10 goals and 19 points through 49 games of that 2021-22 season.

“I try leading by example,” Vatrano said.

“I remember when I was young and the older guys I looked up to, I followed whatever they did, and I was fortunate enough to be around some great leaders. So, I’m just trying to do the same thing for them that was done for me, and it can only help you when you’re young. Older guys are always there for you to help you.”

While Vatrano doesn’t harbor ill will toward the Panthers, he was pumped up for his second game back in Sunrise since his trade to the New York Rangers in 2022, and the rest of the team followed suit.

The Ducks never held the lead in regulation but chipped their way back from a slew of deficits before forcing overtime.

And Vatrano picked up a pair of assists, including the primary assist on Alex Killorn’s overtime winner.

“Road games are tough,” Vatrano said. “You always want to play with a lead, especially against a team like that who can score it well and play very structured.

“They are a team that plays with the lead, so for us, when they got the momentum and got their goals, we were trying to play the same game we were playing and not open it up.

“I think the game got more intense in the third period there, so we fought back and it’s great to get two points.”

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ON DECK

DETROIT RED WINGS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS  

  • When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • Streaming/TV: Bally Sports Florida/ESPN+
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL/Panthers App
  • Last Season: Florida won 3-0
  • This Season (Panthers Lead 1-0) — At Detroit: Panthers 2, Wings 0 (Nov. 2); March 2. At Florida: Wednesday; March 30
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 37-19-6, 5 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Friday vs. Minnesota Wild, 7 p.m.

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