This looked to be just an average game through the first two periods. The Ducks had played better than expected in the first 40 minutes in the second game of back-to-back road games and were down by only one goal going to the third period, but then it became interesting.
Before I get ahead of myself, let me give a summary of the first two periods. The Red Wings scored two power play goals in the first period, getting off to a quick start. The Ducks’ penalty kill did not look bad but were unable to clear pucks on several occasions, allowing Detroit to take the two goal lead into the second period.
The Ducks’ first goal game in the second on a bad turnover by Detroit. The Red Wings’ Jonathan Ericsson had the puck behind the net in his defensive zone with Ryan Getzlaf standing on the other side of the net at the top of the crease. Ericsson’s pass deflected off Getzlaf’s stick, and Getzlaf then spun and passed to Corey Perry in the slot before Perry snapped it home. That would complete the scoring through two periods.
But like I metioned before, it became interesting in the third period. The Ducks got their second power play chance of the game and converted on a shot by Bobby Ryan. Getzlaf was at the point and passed the puck low to Ryan, who was almost standing on the goal line. Ryan one-timed the puck past goaltender Jimmy Howard, who was unable to move across quickly enough to make the stop.
But just a minute and a half after the Ducks tied it, the Red Wings regained the lead on a power play goal by Pavel Datsyuk. The Ducks did not get down, however, and continued to attack. Getzlaf was again standing at the point before passing the puck to Joffrey Lupul who was standing high in the slot. Lupul accepted the pass and had to spin while shooting, but a screened Howard was unable to stop the puck as it went five-hole to tie the game at three, just over a minute after Detroit had regained the lead.
Detroit, though, kept coming. Less than three minutes later, Henrik Zetterberg backhanded a rebound past Jonas Hiller to take the lead 4-3. That would end the scoring in the first half of the third period, as just under 11 minutes remained after that goal.
The Ducks got a little fortunate and earned a 5-on-3 power play late in the period. After a lot of passing and no shots, Getzlaf decided to just rip a slap shot from the point and scored, beating Howard between his arm and his body on the blocker side. The game was tied 4-4 if you’re still keeping track.
But just over a minute later, just as the Red Wings’ second penalty was ending, Zetterberg scored on a one-timer from the top of the circles to take the lead 5-4. Replays showed that Zetterberg’s stick actually broke as he shot the puck, which fluttered to Hiller and fooled him on its way in.
Then, just two minutes and sixteen seconds later, just after Teemu Selanne hit the post on a backhand attempt, Darren Helm scored on a harmless looking shot, one that Hiller could have and should have stopped. Helm came down the left boards with Ryan Whitney defending him, then took the shot at about the faceoff dot. Hiller got a piece of it with his jersey as it went under his arm, and the puck trickled over the goal line as the Red Wings extended their lead, 6-4.
But the Ducks didn’t have anything left in the tank and were unable to score any more goals. Zetterberg eventually scored an empty net goal to complete a third period hat trick for a final score of 7-4.
There were some very interesting statistics that came out of this game, and they show exactly why the Ducks lost tonight. The Ducks scored two power play goals, but allowed three. The Ducks took 23 shots, but allowed 36 against. Getzlaf scored four points, but Zetterberg scored five.
But all those could have been forgiven if Hiller could just make a big stop. The last two goals that the Red Wings scored with Hiller in net were stoppable. In fact, Hiller must make those saves if the Ducks were going to have a chance to win the game. I’ve been a Hiller fan all season, but I almost wish that J.S. Giguere was in net for this game. Both goalies can make big stops but a motivated Giguere, who played extremely well last night, is preferred in my opinion to Hiller, who gave up quite a few goals that could have been stopped tonight.
Another important note is that Selanne was skating hard all night and had little to show for it. The absence of Saku Koivu has translated into a quiet Selanne, and now the departure of Andrew Ebbett is looking like a huge mistake for a Ducks team that is anchored by Erik Christensen as the second line center.
All these not-so-minor details translate into the Ducks remaining at the bottom of the Western Conference. Granted it’s still early, but almost a quarter of the season has passed and the Ducks are still struggling for consistency. If this doesn’t turn around soon there may be some major changes coming as these results are unacceptable for fans and management alike.
The Ducks will now have Sunday off before taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second time this season on Monday. The Penguins beat the Ducks in the teams’ first match-up this season, but it was a very entertaining game. The Ducks have been playing pretty well offensively lately, but are still trying to find some consistency at defense and in goal. Evgeni Malkin returned for the Penguins tonight, so they will have more firepower in their lineup Monday.
To see highlights of tonight’s game, click here.