Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 9:12 AM PT
The shootout, she can be a cruel mistress, a quick and constant exchange of elation for one side and displeasure for the other. An affair that can make one side quickly forget the 65 minutes of work that led into it, and can make the distance between one standings point and two seem like miles apart.
The Chicago Blackhawks endured that last Saturday night, when a two-goal comeback against the Avalanche was spoiled by a late tying Colorado goal and the subsequent shootout loss. Three days later, Chicago enjoyed the opposite sensation, their shootout glory becoming Anaheim's anguish.
Here's how the night went for the Ducks: They led the Hawks 2-1 in the third period, gave up a tying goal, had chance after chance to re-take the lead and couldn't do it, and nearly lost the game in overtime at the very last second. A lost faceoff in their own end with 2.4 seconds left became Marian Hossa's last-dash shot, the sounds of the puck hitting the far post and the horn piercing the air in United Center almost simultaneously.
That would have been a harsh way to lose that game, but the subsequent shootout wasn't any more palatable, as only Teemu Selanne connected on his attempt while Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf were each denied by Corey Crawford. At the other end of the rink, Jonas Hiller was able to stonewall Dave Bolland, but couldn't stop Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the latter clinching it for Chicago.
Granted, the Ducks played well for the most part and gained a valuable point on the road against a very strong team in a hostile building. But some frustration came from the opportunities the Ducks had to put the game away and didn't capitalize. The team that last year was third in the NHL in power play percentage, wasn't able to convert on three different opportunities in the third period, including one that lasted nearly the entire final two minutes of regulation.
"I'm not very happy about our power play so far," Teemu Selanne, who scored his 640th career goal on the night, told the OC Register. "We've been in the top three in the league the last, how many years? We got the one power play goal tonight, but the PP can win games and we have to do a better job. We have all the tools. It's just a matter of time to get the job done."
Indeed, the Ducks are just 4 of 35 on the power play so far this year. It's a mystifying number for a team that trots out a first unit that includes a future Hall-of-Famer with 640 goals (Selanne), one of the best playmakers in the game (Getzlaf), the reigning MVP (Perry), one of the hardest shots in the game (Visnovsky) and a young D who sees the ice so well (Fowler). Meanwhile, a guy who has scored 30 goals in three straight seasons (Ryan) and another premier playmaking center (Koivu) is on the second unit.
It's that type of personnel that makes it imminent that the Ducks power play will turn it around. It's just a matter of when. "We just have to take more pride and make it work because we know how important it is," Selanne said. "We've just tried to make too many passes. I think it's time to get back to the simple stuff and get more quality shots, more action around the net. That's one area where we really want to improve. It's going to be very important."
Said Ryan to the OCR, "That top unit obviously carried us to that third ranking. They may not be clicking right now but you just keep the faith in them. Obviously they move the pucks around and they get that one chance. When the pucks moving for those five guys, they’re going to go in the net eventually.”
We can only hope that comes soon on this seven-game trip, which carries on tomorrow night in Minnesota.