By Adam Brady
ANAHEIM – They say all good things must come to an end, and for the Anaheim Ducks tonight, a historic stretch at Honda Center finally came to a close.
Anaheim, which came into the night with an incredible 20-0-2 home record, lost for the first time in regulation at Honda Center, as their comeback came up short at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets. Anaheim got off 42 shots on goal and missed the net on countless others in suffering the 3-2 loss, as Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec was tough to beat all night.
The Jets also blocked 36 Anaheim shots, while the Ducks only had four blocks on the evening. In all, Anaheim threw 94 shots on net but only connected on two.
"It was kind of a tough game, a weird game for our group," said Ducks captain 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."
Anaheim had been just the fourth team in 40 NHL seasons (since 1973-74) to record points in each of their first 22+ home games of a season. The Ducks’ 22-game streak was also their longest at home in club history at any point during a season. The loss also snapped a 10-game winning streak at home for the Ducks.
"When you're going like you are, these ones hurt," Getzlaf said. "We'll use this for motivation."
It was the first visit to Anaheim since April 14, 1996 for the Jets, who were re-born as a franchise in 2011 after moving to Winnipeg from Atlanta. Tonight they outplayed the Ducks for the first two periods -- even chasing starter Jonas Hiller after their third goal -- but the Ducks looked poised to mount a comeback in the third.
Anaheim got within a goal and got the crowd going again with a little less than 10 minutes left in the game, when Jakob Silfverberg got off a shot on the right wing that caromed off Pavelec, and Nick Bonino punched in the rebound.
But the Ducks couldn’t get the all-important equalizer in losing for just the third time in the last 22 games. Winnipeg, meanwhile, won a third straight game after dropping five in a row.
Anaheim went out in front on a slap shot power play goal from Cam Fowler just 3:59 into the game, but the Jets answered with three straight to take a 3-1 lead after two periods.
Not long after Fowler’s goal, the Jets picked off a Bonino pass and went on the rush, where Blake Wheeler fired a shot from the wing past Hiller.
With a minute and a half left in the first, Hiller couldn’t control a shot from the point and it squirted out near his left skate, where Ladd punched it in.
The Ducks had a couple of power play opportunities in the second, but couldn’t convert, giving up a shorthanded goal to Evander Kane on the second one. Soon after a big save by Pavelec to rob Patrick Maroon on the penalty kill, the Jets headed the other way, where Kane whipped a wrist shot over Hiller’s glove from the left wing.
"You knew they were going to be resilient. When they scored right after we scored, I think we had outplayed them right up to that point," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "We talked about that if we could get the lead after the first period, we could probably hold it, but if they had the lead, it was going to be a fight. They had the 2-1 lead going into the second, and that probably gained them a lot of confidence."
It wasn’t a strong night for Hiller, who was pulled in favor of Frederik Andersen following that goal. Hiller had won a club record 14 straight games before suffering a 3-2 loss last Friday night in Chicago that snapped the team’s eight-game win streak.
"I didn’t feel like I was really in the game," Hiller said. "It wasn’t a really good effort on my part, and it’s too bad we couldn’t turn it around.
"There are some days you feel better and some where you don’t feel that good. The only problem is that as a goalie, you find out right away if you don’t feel that good, and you can’t really hide. Those things happen, and I’m not too worried about it. I feel bad and disappointed. You can’t be perfect every night."
It’s the start of an intriguing week for the Ducks, who face the rival Kings at Honda Center on Thursday, then two nights later battle then in the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series LA game at Dodger Stadium.
"There are a lot of distractions going on this week with the outdoor game," Getzlaf said. "Everyone wants to talk about it, and they have been talking about it for the last two weeks. It’s hard to focus in on what you need to do and on the points at end. That’s an excuse, and it’s nothing that our group hasn’t been a part of before or will be part of again. When there are distractions, we’ve got to learn to play through them."
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