Anaheim was looking to redeem themselves for a pretty pathetic effort on Friday night against the Stars. An opportunity against the Phoenix Coyotes seemed just what the doctor ordered. Right? Wrong. The team swallowing the bitter pills was Anaheim in a 5-4 defeat giving them two losses in a row.
The Ducks were not horrible. But the Ducks were not good when they needed to be and certainly were not good enough in too many situations.
As was the case on Friday evening, the opponents scored first. Martin Hanzal got his first of two goals at 4:41 of the first period. The Ducks nearly tied up the game on the next shift, a good sign of response, but Mike Smith was solid in net for the Coyotes.
Lubomir Visnovsky did tie up the game at 8:21 with a great shot from the blue line. Even better, the Ducks took their first lead with a goal from Ryan Getzlaf at 14:02, his first of the year. Getzlaf tipped in Teemu Selanne’s shot, giving Ducks fans something to cheer about.
It did not last long.
Hanzal got goal #2 just :42 seconds later, a shot that hit Jonas Hiller in the blocker and kept on going through to the back of the net.
Going into the second period tied 2-2 did not seem a bad thing. Then things went to hell in a handbasket real fast.
In a span of 3:09, the Coyotes got goals from Boyd Gordon, Lauri Korpikoski and Keith Yandle. Bim, bam, boom. Bye bye Hiller. Hello Dan Ellis.
“It’s easy to sit and criticize the goalie because he is the last line of defense, but there were a lot of things happening in front of him,” said coach Randy Carlyle. “They were shooting the pucks from some areas where they should not have been unchecked. Jonas has been a stalwart for this hockey club and probably our MVP in a lot of games. It’s hard to point the finger, but I’m sure he’d like to have some of them back.”
Even one of them back would have helped.
Being down 5-2, not even eight minutes into the middle frame, certainly sucked the life out the announced crowd of 13,240 (likely 9,000 – 10,000 in actual attendance).
Luca Sbisa, not known for dropping the gloves, decided to get a little energy going for his team and the fans and took on Raffi Torres in a bout that saw a lot of punches connecting on both sides of the battle. Sbisa got the take down and the Ducks took the energy infusion.
Kurtis Foster, playing in his first game for the Ducks, since the pre-season Jokerit game, got his first goal as a Duck at 13:31. After a power play had just expired, Foster was alone at the blue line and seemed to be looking where to pass the puck. Rather than pass, he made the right decision to shoot and it went up and over the traffic in front of the net.
The Ducks continued to get chances in the third period and Ellis held fast and calm in net, continuing to give Anaheim a chance to climb back into it.
With an empty net and a renewed determination, the Ducks gave it their all in the final minutes of the game. Getzlaf got his second of the game at 19:52 to bring the Ducks within a goal of sending things to overtime.
Eight seconds was not enough to strike again.
“When you look back on it, the flurry of goals in the second period sunk our hockey club,” Carlyle observed. “I thought our team had its fair share of chances. We just didn’t execute to a level that was required and then we got frustrated.”
So now the Ducks head out for a seven game road trip. More importantly, it is back to work and back to basics.
“(Monday’s) going to be a work day for us,” stated Getzlaf said. “We’re going to skate when we get in there. Maybe that’s what we need. Get out on the road again and get together as a group and fine-tune some of those things.”
OK, how about a lot of those things? But even taking care of some of the Ducks’ problems will certainly give them a better chance to win their next game. Baby steps.
They know they can do it. They’ve already put together a four game winning streak. Now to get back to the things that made them successful, rather than looking like the Keystone Cops play ice hockey, will help increase the number in the wins column.
Next chance – Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
In other notes: Maxime Macenauer caught a puck in the face late in the second period. 12 stitches later (and again, thank goodness for a visor) Macenauer was back on the ice.
Also, J.F. Jacques was recalled early on Sunday morning from Syracuse. Jacques was sent to the AHL after being handed a five game suspension for stupidity on ice in a pre-season game against Vancouver. The game against Phoenix counted as game one of the suspension. He still has four more to go before he can play.