Many teams have tried to defeat the Ducks at home this season. Only two have been successful, but only in overtime/shoot out. Until the Winnipeg Jets came to town (for the first time since their last incarnation as the Jets in 1996).
Although Winnipeg is at the bottom of the Central Division, they have won four games in a row now under new coach, Paul Maurice. The new coach wasn't the secret weapon in the 3-2 loss. It was goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.
Pavelec was not only spectacular, he basically stole the two points for the Jets. The netminder made 40 saves and his teammates blocked another 36 shots.
You cannot fault Anaheim for their effort, although their own netminder, Jonas Hiller, was not great.
"I never really felt in the game," admitted Hiller, who gave up three goals before being replaced in net by Frederik Andersen. "It wasn’t a really good effort on my part, and it’s too bad we couldn’t turn it around. I just wasn’t able to cut out all the distractions, but those things happen. It’s too bad it happened in that situation. I really wanted to keep that streak going."
Some of those distractions include all the focus on the upcoming Stadium Series game against the Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night.
Hiller should have been focusing on the game at hand, but instead, his lapses and Pavelec's standing on his head combined for the Ducks first regulation loss at home in 23 games.
"It was kind of a tough game, a weird game for our group," said Ryan Getzlaf. "We came out early and scored a power play goal, and it was almost like we let up after that. They kind of took it to us a little bit. We were able to rebound, but you get against a hot goaltender like that and you don’t get back."
Cam Fowler got that power play goal at 3:59 of the first period. Then Blake Wheeler scored at 5:19 on Winnipeg's first shot on goal.
A tip in from Andrew Ladd at 18:36 gave the Jets a 2-1 lead heading into the second period.
The Ducks still had every opportunity to even the score, but the short handed goal from Evander Kane at 15:43 proved to be the Duck killer.
Taking out Hiller and inserting Andersen was the smart thing to do, and Andersen stopped all 10 shots, keeping Anaheim in the game.
But with Pavelec looking like an octopus and a magic force field keeping pucks out, the only thing the Ducks could get past him was a shot from Nick Bonino at 10:18 of the third period. Extra attacker? Still could not get the tying goal.
"When you're going like you are, these ones hurt," said Getzlaf. "We'll use this for motivation."
The Ducks will need all the motivation they can muster when they meet the Kings for the first of two games on Thursday. Thursday night will just be the preview of Saturday's outdoor game and both games carry two points with them.
"There are a lot of distractions going on this week with the outdoor game," Getzlaf said. "When there are distractions, we’ve got to learn to play through them."
If they don't, there will be yet another loss on Thursday.