After three lousy performances and allowing nearly as many goals as an All Star game, the Ducks rebounded with a much better effort against the Kings on Wednesday night. The result was still a 3-2 loss for Anaheim, their fourth in a row, but there were signs that things were improving.
Curtis McElhinney got the nod in net, despite less than stellar efforts. Ray Emery was brought up from Syracuse to back McElhinney up, as Timo Pielmeier was not up to snuff.
McElhinney only saw 18 shots and did a much better job, but did not control a couple of rebounds and get the results that the Ducks wanted. So much so that Thursday morning McElhinney was shipped off to another sunny state – Florida. The Ducks traded him for Dan Ellis, who should be able to hold the fort a bit better while Jonas Hiller remains out with vertigo. If Hiller’s head wasn’t spinning already, all the changes in net would do that for you.
The Ducks started off the game well and were very disciplined in not giving the Kings a single power play. The Kings did not register a single shot on goal until the 11:00 minutes into the game. However, Los Angeles still scored first at 12:13 of the first period. Ryan Smyth put Jack Johnson’s rebound into the net and the Ducks had to play catch up.
Teemu Selanne got goal #20 of the season at 13:32 to tie things up. Toni Lydman made a terrific shot that Selanne tipped in behind Jonathan Quick.
Anze Kopitar’s sharp angle shot at 17:09 gave the Kings the lead once more. It was the second rebound for LA that found itself perfectly placed.
In continued back and forth fashion, Corey Perry tied the game again in the second period when he tipped in Luca Sbisa’s shot at 10:05.
Willie Mitchell got the eventual game winner with a rare goal in the third period. It was only his second goal of the season at 6:45. With traffic in front, McElhinney did not even see the shot.
The Ducks were unable to tie up the game, and the Kings went on to complete a terrific road trip at 6-1-3 and move up to 6th place in the Western Conference.
“It’s been a great road trip,”said Kings coach Terry Murray. “That’s 15 points out of a possible 20. That’s a nice road trip.”
The Ducks, who have not gotten a single point in four games, are now languishing at 11th place. They were tied for first in the Pacific Division just a week ago, and now find themselves at the bottom of that division.
“It’s a four-point game,” Bobby Ryan aptly observed. “Obviously you look at the standings. Other teams around us are finding ways to get points every night. We’ve lost four in a row and we find ourselves on the outside looking in.”
The Ducks will continue to be on the outside if they stay on this losing streak. Regaining Ryan Getzlaf, who missed the game due to the birth of his son earlier in the day, and Saku Koivu, who is day to day with a strained groin muscle, will certainly help when the Wild come to town on Friday. Continuing their better efforts and work habits will also assist in getting the Ducks much needed points.