After losing four in a row, the Ducks desperately needed a win against the Minnesota Wild. They only got one point in the 3-2 overtime loss and now have five losses in a row.
Sure, a point is progress, but not enough to make a dent in an already congested Western Conference. The loss leaves the Ducks in 11th place while everyone else keeps creeping upward. 20 games to go and Anaheim will continue to be on the outside looking in if they cannot manage to put together a winning streak. Now.
Dan Ellis did well in his debut in a Ducks uniform, stopping 28 shots. The problem was that Jose Theodore stopped even more on the other end. Theodore did what a back up goaltender needs to do – play well and get a win while the primary guy sits on the bench. Theodore stopped 46 shots and seemed to be positioned well for everything the Ducks sent his way.
“You have to give a lot of credit to Theodore over there,” said Corey Perry after the game. “He played well and made some big saves. He saw a lot of rubber tonight. It’s a matter of finding those bounces again that we were getting early on when we were winning.”
The Ducks had several good opportunities, including a wide open net that Perry himself missed by shooting the puck over the top of the net. None of them went Anaheim’s way.
John Madden got the first goal of the game at 15:29 of the first period. His shot sailed over Ellis’ left shoulder and landed cleanily in the net.
Bobby Ryan put the Ducks even at 9:22 of the second period with his 100th NHL goal. The power play had just expired when Ryan finished off the rebound behind Theodore. By the end of the period, the Ducks had only one goal to show for their 20 shots in that period alone and 30 thus far in the game.
Things appeared destined for overtime in the third period until Clayton Stoner broke the tie at 15:03. At that point, numerous fans left the building to brave the rainy ride home, not believing that their team could come back.
Miraculously, they did. Francois Beauchemin made it 2-2 with exactly 2 minutes remaining on the clock and suddenly there was a chance for the Ducks.
The Ducks had several good chances in overtime, but two breakaways by Minnesota at the end put the final nail in the coffin for Anaheim. First it was Cal Clutterbuck going in on Ellis, who made a great save. Then it was Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
Ellis could not stop Bouchard and with 6.3 seconds left in OT, the Wild took their extra point and went home.
“I don’t think you ever design to give up two breakaways in 4-on-4 play,” said coach Randy Carlyle. “We got too loose and too aggressive on the offensive side of it. We got caught. You can’t do that. (Ellis) made a big stop on the first one. The puck bobbled over Cam Fowler’s stick and they got in behind us. That’s a new one for us.”
If the Ducks continue like this, missing the playoffs will not be a new experience. It will be a repeat of last year. Sometimes you do not want to have a deja vu experience. This would be one of them.
In other notes: Saku Koivu missed his second game with a groin strain and his brother Mikko did not play for the Wild either, having suffered a broken finger last week against the Ducks. GM Bob Murray got a four year extension from management earlier on Friday, meaning that the Ducks will be staying status quo for a while.