With so much excitement and hullabaloo about Teemu Selanne playing in Finland to open the NHL season, you knew there was going to be a letdown. Certainly the hope was that it would come after a win (or two).
Instead, it was quick.
Playing the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL Premiere games in Helsinki, the Ducks seemed to be the hometown favorites, despite 5600 miles between Helsinki and Anaheim.
The Sabres came ready to play. The Ducks? Did not do so well.
Anaheim came out with probably way too much energy and excitement and did not have their act together for quite a while. Early penalties to both teams left the teams playing 4 on 4, but when the Sabres got their advantage, they wasted no time making it 1-0 with a goal from Tomas Vanek.
The only Finn on the Buffalo team, Ville Leino, made it 2-0 at 8:30. Jonas Hiller did not look solid in net as he had on Tuesday. Too much moving around and scrambling.
The Ducks appeared to get back into the game when Nate Guenin got his first NHL goal, tipping in Maxime Macenauer’s shot from the blue line through traffic at 4:38.
It was short lived. The Sabres came back on the next shift and restored their two goal lead with a goal from Jason Pominville. Right through Hiller’s five hole.
Anaheim should have learned not to give Buffalo the power play, as Vanek made it 4-1 at 11:59. Stay out of the box. Simple. Especially with the way the team was playing and the way the Ryan Miller was making sure nothing else would go in the Buffalo net.
The third period started much better and the Ducks were able to hold the Sabres off from any more shots on net. It did not matter. By then it was too little, too late and Miller refused to yield any more pucks in the net.
There is hope that the Ducks have figured things out in time for the game against the New York Rangers in Stockholm on Saturday evening. Perhaps having less pressure and expectations on them will make it easier. Then again, having to face the Rangers, who have local Swede, Henrik Lundqvist in net, will make it just as difficult.
The points matter and the Ducks are already in the hole by two. They cannot afford to make it four.