Ducks Fall Short Again


The Ducks played one of their better games of the season tonight, but it still wasn’t enough to get a point in the standings as Columbus defeated the Ducks by a final score of 6-4. The game was fast-paced and exciting and featured a third period comeback by the Ducks before an unconventional game-winning goal was scored that also saw goalie J.S. Giguere aggravate his groin injury on the same play.

The Ducks jumped to a quick lead with a first period goal by Joffrey Lupul. Ryan Getzlaf had the puck below the goal line and sent a backhand pass high in the slot where Lupul was standing all alone. Lupul took his time before winding up for a slap shot that saw the puck power its way through goalie Steve Mason and trickle into the net.

The Blue Jackets eventually tied the game before Scott Niedermayer scored on a power play in the second. Getzlaf fed Niedermayer a pass in the slot and Niedermayer shot it quickly. The shot deflected to the side of the net towards a Blue Jackets defender and went off his skate into the net to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead.

The Jackets would tie the game again just over a minute later before scoring two more goals to close the third period with a 4-2 lead.

The Ducks didn’t give up as they’ve started to develop a knack for third period come-backs. On a hard working, grinding shift by the top line, Lupul ended up with another goal after Corey Perry made a move to bring the puck to the net from behind the goal. The puck eventually landed flat for Lupul who slapped it home from 10 feet away while Mason was swimming in his crease.

The Ducks would eventually tie the game on the power play with Teemu Selanne doing the honors this time. Saku Koivu quickly skated into the offensive zone, backing the defenders off, before chipping the puck ahead to a streaking Selanne. The puck was so close to the goal by the time Selanne reached it that his only play was to chip it into the air and hope it went it, which is exactly what he did, resulting in a 4-4 tie.

But the Ducks wouldn’t be able to hold on for overtime as the Jackets would score the winner on a screen shot from the blue line. Rick Nash was all alone entering the offensive zone and was working hard along the boards before the puck squirted out to the blue line. Fedor Tyutin just slapped the puck on net past a surprised Giguere giving the Jackets the lead for good.

On the same play, Giguere was unable to pick himself off the ice for some time after the goal as he looked like he aggravated his previously injured groin. Giguere did not see the puck until the last second and made a quick move with his legs, which most likely resulted in the aggravation. Jonas Hiller had to come in to take over the last four minutes of the game.

Hiller was only on the ice for about three of those minutes, though, as the Ducks would eventually pull him in favor of an extra attacker. The Ducks had a few chances before Nash eventually scored an empty net goal to seal the win for a Blue Jackets team that was coming off two consecutive losses.

The Ducks lost this game but there were a lot of positives to take from it. The top line scored a few goals and Getzlaf had three assists. Niedermayer scored his first goal of the season and added an assist while the Ducks scored two power play goals. The team also showed some more risiliance as they came back from a two goal defecit in the third period to tie the game before allowing a bad goal. There was also an obvious connection between Koivu and Bobby Ryan as the two showed some chemistry and connected on a few different plays. The Ducks also finished the game with 36 shots, matching the Blue Jackets’ total.

Basically, the star players were star players. Maybe I should call them out before every game as I did in my post here, because even though they lost tonight they’d win a lot more often playing the way they did.

But there were plenty of areas to improve again. The Ducks gave up 36 shots, far too many for a 60 minute game. Niedermayer was also on the ice for all 10 goals scored, which is impressive in itself but not as much considering six of the goals were from Columbus. Not all the goals were his fault, if any at all, but it’s still a staggering number to think about for one game as the Captain ended up with a minus-2 rating to drop his season total to minus-8.

Another negative for the game was the injury to Giguere, as this likely means he will be placed on IR and make Hiller the number one goalie for the foreseeable future. Also, defenseman Luca Sbisa was not in the lineup, which could be an indication that he will be returned to his junior team. General Manager Bob Murray said multiple times in the off-season that if Sbisa isn’t a top five defensemen, he will not be with the team.

All in all this was a good performance that was ruined by some bad luck. If the Ducks continue to play this way they will win more games than they lose, but unfortunately that still wont cut it. The Ducks need to find a way to win these close games and try to enter the third period with a lead, because otherwise the team may not be able to recover in time for the stretch run to the playoffs.

From the Associated Press:

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -The Columbus Blue Jackets made the playoffs last season for the first time in team history, and they don’t plan on slipping backward.

Fedor Tyutin scored the go-ahead goal on a one-timer from the blue line with 3:22 left, and Rick Nash and Jakub Voracek each scored twice, leading the Blue Jackets to a 6-4 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night. Columbus is off to a 6-3-0 start, the best since the franchise began operations in 2000-01.

“It’s early in the season and guys are learning,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “I thought we really stayed with it tonight, and I liked a lot of things we did. We looked more like the team we needed to be to win on the road.”

Coming off losses at Calgary and Edmonton in which they surrendered 12 goals, the Blue Jackets became the third team in eight nights to beat the Ducks at Honda Center. Antoine Vermette had a goal and two assists for Columbus and Steve Mason made 32 saves.

“You see the frustration on the players’ faces when they come to the bench. The frustrating thing is that they’re not being rewarded for the hard work they put in,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “When you’re going through stretches like we’re going through right now, it seems like when something has a chance to go wrong, it goes wrong. But you have to persevere.”

Joffrey Lupul scored twice and Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer hit paydirt on both of Anaheim’s power plays against a penalty-killing unit that came in 36 for 40. Selanne scored the tying goal with 12:17 left in regulation and Ryan Getzlaf had three assists for Anaheim.

“It’s a frustrating time right now with the way things are going,” Getzlaf said. “We had a lead and let it slip away. I’ve never been part of a team with a losing mentality, and it’s not going to start now.”

Ducks right wing Evgeny Artyukhin began serving the three-game suspension he received from the league for a slew-footing takedown of Dallas’ Matt Niskanen in the second period of Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss. Teammate Ryan Carter missed his second straight game after getting hit by a puck in practice.

The Ducks, who had won eight of the previous 10 meetings with Columbus, were frantically trying to get the puck out of the zone when it slid parallel with the goal line. Tyutin swooped in and let it fly, and it beat a stunned Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Giguere, who has been slowed this week by a groin problem, reinjured himself on the play and was replaced by Jonas Hiller after making 30 saves.

Nash’s empty-net goal completed the scoring with 16 seconds to go.

Trailing 4-2 after Vorecek’s goal just 18 seconds before the second intermission, the Ducks rallied with two goals in less than 3 minutes to tie it with 12:17 to play.

Lupul got his second of the game during a goalmouth scramble. Selanne got the equalizer, flipping the puck past Mason from the edge of the crease on an assist from Saku Koivu while Derek Dorsett was off for tripping Lupul.

Columbus center Samuel Pahlsson, who helped the Ducks win a Stanley Cup title in 2007 returned to Anaheim for the first time since the club traded him to Chicago on March 4. During a play stoppage at 13:59 of the first period, he was welcomed back with a video tribute that included one of the three goals he scored in the Finals. Just 11 seconds later, Lupul gave Anaheim a 1-0 lead with a 35-foot slap shot.

But the Blue Jackets outshot the Ducks 18-10 in the second period and outscored them 4-1. Vermette tied it at 8:12, sweeping the puck past Giguere from the low slot with a backhander while falling to the ice. He has nine goals and 13 assists in 26 games since he was acquired from Ottawa at the trade deadline last March.

The Ducks converted their first power play after Vermette was sent off for tripping Koivu at 11:34 of the period. Niedermayer took a 40-foot wrist shot that caromed off Mason’s leg and then ricocheted off the skate of Columbus defenseman Mike Commodore before trickling over the goal line to put Anaheim back in front.

But the Blue Jackets responded with three goals in the final 6:06 of the period. Nash scored at 13:54, spinning away from defenseman Brendan Mikkelson at the right of the net and throwing the puck through the crease before it deflected in off Niedermayer’s skate.

“That’s the difference about our team this year,” Nash said. “A couple years ago, we’d get down a goal on the road and fold our cards. But now we don’t let it discourage us. We stick with it.”

Voracek made it 3-2 at 16:45 of the period with a one-timer from the slot after Vermette fed him the puck while on his knees to the right of the net. Voracek then scored into a wide-open net with Giguere out of position after Vermette rung one off the left post.

NOTES: Saturday marked the second and final time this season that all 30 teams played on the same day. There also was a full slate Oct. 3. … Artyukhin’s suspension will cost him $34,756 in salary. He will be eligible to return Oct. 31 at Phoenix.