Anaheim Ducks Lose Focus, Fall 3-2 to Arizona Coyotes in Shootout

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November 7, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf (15) moves the puck ahead of Arizona Coyotes left wing Brandon McMillan (22) during the first period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After Wednesday’s roster chaos, the Ducks were expected to have some major stability back in the lineup. After missing Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry because of flu-like symptoms and goaltender Frederik Andersen because of leg tightness on Wednesday, the Ducks welcomed both Getzlaf and Andersen back into the lineup. The team, playing without some of its key players this season, overcame a 2-0 deficit to the New York Islanders to tie the game before ultimately falling in overtime. With the return of the Ducks’ captain and one of their young goaltenders, the Ducks were expected to be a much better squad on Friday against the Coyotes.

In the end, the Ducks played a terrific game. However, they couldn’t finish it off, losing focus momentarily in the second period and ultimately losing in the shootout to drop this contest by a final score of 3-2. Anaheim put pressure on Arizona throughout the game, generated more scoring chances, and had an early 2-0 lead. None of it mattered, as the Ducks let it slip in a very quick sequence of plays.

Off a faceoff win in the second period, the puck eventually found Martin Hanzal near the half-wall. Hanzal fired the puck through the crease, and Rob Klinkhammer had a stick for the redirect past Andersen to cut the Ducks’ lead to 2-1. The goal was Klinkhammer’s third of the season.

58 seconds later, the Coyotes would strike again. Antoine Vermette left a drop pass for Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who fired a wicked snap shot from his off wing past Andersen to tie the game at two goals apiece. That was Doan’s 33rd career goal against the Ducks, the most goals a single player has scored against Anaheim (Doan was previously tied with Brett Hull for 32 goals against the Ducks). That was Doan’s fourth goal of the season. Defenseman Keith Yandle, with a secondary assist, increased his team-leading assist and point totals to ten and 11, respectively.

The Ducks opened the first period strong. Sam Gagner was sent off for the first penalty of the game for tripping Devante Smith-Pelly. Smith-Pelly eventually fired a pass from down low to the slot area, but Sami Vatanen fanned on the shot. Instead of loading up to shoot again, Vatanen made a pass around former Duck Brandon McMillan to Getzlaf, who got to one knee and ripped a shot past Mike Smith to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead. Getzlaf scored his fourth goal of the season, tying him with Perry for the team lead in points (15). Vatanen, with the primary assist, has six assists and nine points on the season, all of which have come on the power-play. His nine power-play points are tied for the most in the NHL among defensemen with Yandle. For the Coyotes, they have now allowed power-play goals in six consecutive games.

The Ducks extended their lead to 2-0 about six minutes later in the first period. Matt Beleskey got the play started, with a hit on Connor Murphy that forced him to cough up the puck to Ryan Kesler. Kesler skated in and fed Jakob Silfverberg the puck, and Beleskey got to the rebound and chipped it past Smith, who was down on the ice after stopping Silfverberg’s initial shot. Beleskey netted his seventh goal of the season, and it seemed Anaheim would roll to the finish.

After giving up the two goals in 58 seconds, the Ducks came back to their physical, aggressive nature of play, but Smith was spectacular for Arizona. Smith made 37 saves on 39 shots to keep Arizona in the game, as Anaheim outshot Arizona 39-25. Both teams made it an effort to engage in the forecheck, as the teams combined for 82 hits (Anaheim with 42, Arizona with 40). As a result, there were plenty of giveaways (18 for Arizona, 14 for Anaheim).

In the end, neither regulation nor overtime could decide the game, so it went to a shootout. Silfverberg drew the first shot for the Ducks, and he fired his rocket wrister past Smith for a goal, capping off his great night. However, Gagner would respond, putting a backhand past Andersen to tie the shootout at one. Smith closed the five-hole on Smith-Pelly, while Mikkel Boedker scored on a nifty backhand-forehand. Kesler, who had to score to extend the shootout, fired wide, giving the Coyotes a 2-1 victory in the shootout and the 3-2 victory in the game.

Though Anaheim only got one point in the standings, there are positives to take from this game. Again, the regular season is about quality of play, not just wins and losses: otherwise, the President’s Trophy winner would win the Stanley Cup every year. The Ducks, outside of the early part of the second period, played very well, controlling the game. More often than not, they will win games at this level of play. Smith was unreal for Arizona, making key saves time and time again to steal the second point from Anaheim.

Here are my three stars from the game tonight.