Tuesdays at the Honda Center are not good for the Ducks. For only the second time this season, the Ducks lost on home ice, both times coming to teams with "IN" in their names. First the Winnipeg Jets last Tuesday and now the Minnesota Wild this Tuesday.
The 4-2 loss to Minnesota was plain and simple a bad game for Anaheim.
"I don’t know if it was an emotional letdown, but it was certainly a letdown in our play," said the ever candid Ben Lovejoy. "We didn’t play well. We were far too loose with the puck. We didn’t bring it tonight."
That was a gross understatement.
After all the hype surrounding the outdoor game at Dodger Stadium last Saturday, you knew it would be tough to rebound from all the excitement. But considering how well the team has played all year, this one was a stinker.
"It was a messy game for us out there," said Ryan Getzlaf. "It didn't start well….myself included. I didn't play well tonight. I've got to be better than that. We were standing around a lot in our own zone."
Bad penalties did not help either.
Credit the Wild. They came ready to play and play for a full 60 minutes.
"I think their record at home pretty much speaks for itself," said Zach Parise, who had one goal and two assists for Minnesota. "It is not an easy rink to come and play at. They play really well here. I think we had a really good start. We didn’t sit back. I think even when we had the lead we kept going at them. I think that was a little bit different than what we’ve seen before. We didn’t get passive. We put them on their heels as opposed to us being on our heels."
Jason Pominville scored at 7:57 of the first period and the first goal felt ominous. You knew the Ducks were not at their best from the get go. Even though Dustin Penner tied up the game at 18:13, that was as close as the Ducks would get.
Mikael Granlund scored :13 seconds into the second period, converting on one of five power plays that the Wild were given.
The Wild are notorious for being a solid, shutdown team and taking the lead into the third period they did not let it go.
Parise's goal at 6:35, followed by Erik Haula at 8:21 pretty much put the nail in the Ducks coffin. A tally from Mathieu Perreault on the power play at 10:53 made it 4-2, but it was too little, too late.
"We were falling, swinging and circling," was coach Bruce Boudreau's assessment. "If it wasn’t for the posts in the second period, we would’ve been entering the third [period] down about 5-1. We weren't very good."
No arguments from anyone about that.
Anaheim is still at the top of the NHL standings with 83 points, but if they continue to slump, the cushion they have built up will quickly erode.
On the plus side, the Ducks have been good at rebounding.
"We’ve made it a habit of not losing two in a row, so we have to focus on Thursday," said Getzlaf, about the upcoming game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
There is only room to improve.
In other notes:
Defenseman Luca Sbisa returned to the line up after missing most of the season with a broken hand (which followed a sprained ankle.) Sbisa looked a little rusty and took two of the Ducks penalties in the first period.
Sbisa replaced Mark Fistric in the line up, who could clearly say "not my fault," about the loss to the Wild. Fistric has been very good for the Ducks this year, adding a physical presence to the blue line. He was rewarded with a three year contract extension worth $3.8 million today.