After winning the home opener, the Ducks did not want to fall back on their winless ways. They came close, but not close enough in a 5 – 4 shootout loss against Atlanta.
“I think it was mental mistakes that we made that cost us the point,” observed coach Randy Carlyle. “Not their effort. They worked hard and tried. Some nights shootouts go for you, some nights they don’t.”
The Thrashers wasted no time scoring, just :17 seconds into the game. Anthony Stewart finished off Andrew Ladd’s pass while the Anaheim defense continued to show why they are a work in progress.
It took a while for the Ducks to get things in gear, but eventually they found their rhythm and got some shots on goal, outshoothing their opponent for the first time this season, 41 – 33. Taking advantage of a power play, Anaheim tied things up when Corey Perry deflected Lubomir Visnovsky’s point shot at 8:54.
The Ducks took their first lead of the game midway through the second period. Toni Lydman, making his debut with the Ducks after missing more than a month with double vision, saw just one puck go in the net on 9:43. Chris Mason could not control the juicy rebound that landed right at Lydman’s feet. The stay-at-home defenseman only scores a handful of goals each season, but this was certainly the way to start things in an Anaheim uniform.
Atlanta came back to tie things up on their first power play opportunity. Chris Thorburn, who had recently exited the penalty box himself, deflected in Dustin Byfuglien’s hard shot from the blue line at 13:21.
The Thrashers would have been better off staying out of the penalty box, but the Ducks were happy to take advantage of their errors. Teemu Selanne scored his second power play goal in as many games at 19:08 to restore a 3-2 lead to Anaheim. That was Selanne’s 608th goal, and ties him for 16th on the all-time list with Dino Ciccarelli.
The Ducks, outshooting their opponent for the first time this season, wanted to maintain that momentum going into the third period. Another power play goal, this time from Ryan Getzlaf at 6:35, gave the Ducks a two goal lead. They needed it.
Not learning from Atlanta’s mistakes, the Ducks decided to make a few trips to the penalty box themselves.
Stewart took advantage of a loose puck behind Jonas Hiller to bring the Thrashers back within one at 10:35. He got his first hat trick at 14:38 deflecting a rogue puck into the net. Never having scored more than two goals in a season, Stewart has already eclipsed that mark.
“I’m happy to contribute any way I can,” said an obviously happy Stewart. “I am still tring to prove myself in this league, so any way I can contribute is great.”
That sent the game into overtime, the first time for the Ducks this season, and then into the shootout. Both Hiller and Mason looked strong, but in the end, it was Nigel Dawes who put the game winning puck past Hiller in the fourth round to end things on a positive note for the Thrashers.
“We lost a point,” said Carlyle. “But we’re going to try to build on that, because there were parts of the game that we played very, very well.”
Next up is the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday evening, which also happens to be Hockey Fights Cancer night at the Honda Center.