Downed by Shootout
Friday, 11.4.2011 / 8:11 AM PT
You live by the shootout, you die by the shootout, and for Ducks fans, that method of breaking ties last night managed to break our hearts.
A strong effort by Anaheim in the final period and a half against the Rangers at the Garden was sullied by a crushing defeat in the oh-so-fickle shootout.
Moral victories aren't worth a whole heck of a lot -- one standings point, to be exact -- but the Ducks can take solace in a second-half performance against the Blueshirts that was leaps and bounds better than what they showed in Washington (despite the fact they scored three fewer goals). The Ducks were all over the Rangers net in the last period and a half, but just couldn't manage to squeeze much past a last line of defense known as Henrik Lundqvist. All Anaheim got was this seemingly innocent wrist shot on the rush from Bobby Ryan that managed to dart past Lundqvist's stick.
Meanwhile, the same Jonas Hiller who had a forgettable night against the high-flying Capitals looked more like the Jonas Hiller we're used to, making a number of acrobatic, game-rescuing saves among his 24 on the night. Most notable was this one on a Ryan Callahan breakaway, when the Ducks defense completely lost track of the NYR captain, and Hiller came up big with the leather on a number of other occasions.
But ironically enough, the same shootout that gave the Ducks a 2-1 victory over the Rangers last month in Stockholm did the complete opposite in the Garden. The elation we felt over Teemu Selanne's effortlessly roofed backhand was overshadowed by former Duck Erik Christensen and Marian Gaborik's scores on Hiller.
Still, the one point gained in that game and the one two nights prior in Washington prove valuable for a seemingly struggling Ducks team. Yes, they've lot seven of eight, but they've gained points in four of six games on this grueling journey, and can salvage a .500 trip with a win tomorrow night in Detroit.
Oh yes, Detroit, where the puzzling fortunes of the always-mighty Red Wings has gotten to the point where we're seeing articles entitled What's Wrong with the Red Wings? The Ducks and Wings could probably share some stories, as they too had a hot start to the season, only to see things slow down. They were undefeated after five games, then lost six in a row (including a 4-1 defeat to Calgary at home last night) and are now 13th in the Western Conference (Anaheim is 11th). They're the first team in NHL history to win the first five, then lose at least the next six, a record they're not likely to put on a plaque in the hallways of Joe Louis Arena. But you've got to believe one thing is for certain -- they, like the Ducks, will turn it around. It's just a matter of when.
Let's just hope it's not tomorrow night at The Joe.