By Adam Brady (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ANAHEIM – The Anaheim Ducks aren’t the kind of team to take comfort in moral victories. So there’s little solace to be found in the team playing its best hockey of the year in a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Edmonton at Honda Center.
Instead, it’s little more than the fourth straight loss to start the year for the Ducks, who remain on the lookout for their first win of 2008-09.
"Tonight was tremendously better than the other nights," said Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf. "We were moving the puck well. We were getting chances. Right now, the puck is not bouncing in for us. We had many scrambles around the net, but we just couldn’t get in there. We had opportunities. We just couldn’t bury them."
|Jonas Hiller kept the Ducks in the game, but it wasn't enough to earn their first victory.
Less than 24 hours after the Ducks could get little past Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera in a 6-3 loss, a former Kings netminder befuddled them. Mathieu Garon, who spent two seasons in Los Angeles before coming to the Oilers prior to last year, saved 33 of 35 Anaheim shots, including several down the stretch to cling to the victory.
Meanwhile, yet another former King did the Ducks in with the eventual game-winning goal early in the third period. Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky converted on the man advantage 2:41 into the third to give Edmonton the lead for good on the seventh power play goal the Ducks have given up this year. Visnovsky’s slap shot from inside the blueline deflected off a Ducks defenseman and flew past Hiller, who was shielded by Oiler Shawn Horcoff and teammate Scott Niedermayer ( Video).
Visnovsky spent his first seven NHL seasons in L.A. before coming to the Oilers in a June trade for Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene. Stoll, by the way, had a big goal against the Ducks in last night’s defeat at Staples Center.
Unlike in that game, and the two before that, the Ducks were in this one throughout, and had several chances to tie it that were turned away. That included the final 90 seconds, when they pulled goalie Jonas Hiller and put several shots on net that Garon denied.
While he was in net, Hiller was outstanding in his first start of the season. His modest 25 saves didn’t quite tell the story, as he repeatedly made big stops down the stretch to ensure Edmonton didn’t put the game out of reach.
|Rob Niedermayer netted his second of the season to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead they would eventually relinquish.
A feeling of “here we go again” might have been rippling through Honda Center when the Oilers took the early 1-0 lead on a Horcoff goal at 4:20 into the first. Denis Grebeshkov innocently threw the puck at the net from inside the blueline and Horcoff deflected it past Hiller.
But the Ducks wiped out the lead two minutes later on a redemption goal by defenseman Kent Huskins, who was a healthy scratch last night in L.A. after struggling in the first two games. Huskins took a headman pass from Brad May and drilled a slap shot from the top of the left circle that nearly ripped a hole through the twine. It was exactly one year to the day after Huskins’ first NHL goal.
The score remained 1-1 into the second, until Rob Niedermayer potted one 4:10 into the middle session ( Video). Niedermayer picked up the puck that bounced off brother Scott’s skate in the slot, spun and fired a wrist shot that sailed over Garon’s shoulder. It was the second of the year for Niedermayer, who sat out last night’s game with a bruised foot.
But Edmonton tied it up on a Sheldon Souray goal with 1:37 left in the period. Souray batted a pass from Robert Nilsson off the right post, where it bounced off the back of Hiller’s skate and went through.
The Ducks, who have been plagued in second periods in their first three games of the year, managed to keep Edmonton off the board otherwise, despite two power plays set up by Chris Pronger penalties.
But they were set back by Visnovsky's goal in the third and couldn't find the equalizer.
"It’s something to build off of, no question," said Ducks center Brendan Morrison. "I thought we showed a little more desperation tonight. I thought we initiated a little more. Ultimately, it’s the result that we’re after. The process was better."
Their next shot at that elusive first win comes two nights from now, when San Jose visits Honda Center. The Sharks beat Anaheim 4-1 in the season opener for both teams last week.
The positive we can take out of tonight is we have a starting point now," Getzlaf said. "Our work ethic was there and our chances were there. As we push forward here, those chances are going to go in and we can get this thing turned around pretty quick."
- The announced crowd of 16,604 marked the first time in the last 78 home games the Ducks did not sellout.
- Ken Klee and Brian Sutherby (who had his first goal as a Duck last night) were scratches for Anaheim.
20:00 - After feverishly trying to send the tying goal in, time runs out on the Ducks, who suffer a 3-2 defeat to the Oilers. The Ducks fall to 0-4.
19:53 - Souray chops the puck out of the corner and it clears the glass, but officials rule it was deflected.
19:20 - The Ducks throw it into the zone to Selanne, who is on the run down the wing before being whistled offside.
18:30 - The Ducks empty the net, as several shots on Garon go unfulfilled. The former King looks just as good as Hiller tonight, with 31 saves.
17:16 - Moen tips a Pahlsson centering pass in the crease and it's barely covered by Garon's foot as Scott Niedermayer glides by trying to punch it in.
16:52 - Hiller snags a Horcoff shot out of the air with the glove. He just refuses to let them get that fourth goal.
15:21 - It's Hiller again, as Nilsson gets some room in the slot when the Ducks are caught in a change and he rips a slap shot that Hiller gobbles.
15:15 - Hiller, Hiller and more Hiller. Come Hiller high water, he's there.
12:54 - Hiller makes a solid glove save, as he continues to keep the Ducks in this game.
Just got an email from one of the tennis balls, and apparently they're home sick. The one time they don't make it and the sellout streak comes to an end. Coincidence?
10:40 - Hiller makes a huge save, then seconds later looks behind him as the puck hits off his leg pad and then the post before rolling along the goal line inches short of it. Huge break for the Ducks.
The attendance is announced at 16,604, ending the streak of 78 straight sellouts for the Ducks that dated back to 2006-07.
2:41 - EDMONTON GOAL (POWER PLAY) - LUBOMIR VISNOSKY - As former King Garon holds the Ducks at bay, another former King gets the go-ahead goal. He takes a slap shot from inside the blueline that ticks off an Anaheim defenseman and through Hiller, who was screened by Horcoff and teammate Scott Niedermayer. It's a 3-2 lead for Edmonton.
2:21 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry
, 2 min. goaltender interference. Perry runs into Garon.
2:10 - Getzlaf goes 1 on 1 with the Oilers defenseman and gets off a backhand that also
hits the post.
1:01 - Montador takes a shot from deep that gets deflected on its way to the net, bounds over Garon's head and just nicks off the post.
0:00 - Off we go in the third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The Oilers come on strong in the second part of the period, spending a good amount of time in the Ducks zone and getting a goal from Souray. We're tied 2-2 going into the third. It's the first time this year the Ducks have even been tied through two.
19:52 - Garon makes a last-second kick save on a hard Carter shot from the circle and covers it just before Scotty Niedermayer arrives to try and punch it in.
18:23 - EDMONTON GOAL SHELDON SOURAY - Just after Hiller makes some more strong saves, Souray bats a pass from Robert Nilsson off the left post, and it bounces off the back of Hiller's skate and in.
17:40 - Another big kill for Anaheim, as Marchant clears it the length of the ice just before Pronger heads out of the box.
17:22 - Hiller makes a big save and cover on a Horcoff one-timer on the power play, as Samuel Pahlsson spent nearly a minute out there without a stick, having lent it to Beauchemin who had his break.
15:44 - ANA Penalty - Chris Pronger, 2 min. hooking. Back to the box for Prongs. Ducks on their heels again.
15:40 - The puck is spending a lot of time in the Anaheim zone. What was once a 17-5 shot advantage for the Ducks is now 18-11.
14:09 - Huge kill for the Ducks.
12:09 - ANA Penalty - Chris Pronger, 2 min. cross checking. Pronger gets in a little tussle with Erik Cole away from the puck, knocking Cole's helmet clear off.
The video board shows fans holding up a giant HUSKINS FOR PRESIDENT sign. Interesting.
11:50 - High-paced hockey game, with the puck going back and forth like ... well like something
6:29 - Ducks are outshooting Edmonton 17-5.
4:10 - ANAHEIM GOAL - ROB NIEDERMAYER - The puck bounces off brother Scott's skate to Rob in the slot, and he pounces on it, makes a 180 and slings the puck over Garon's shoulder. Second goal of the year for Robbie in three games. Did I fall asleep and wake up in May of '07? It's 2-1 Ducks.
0:58 - Garon makes a lunging save and holds it, after which Perry nicks him a little bit. And you could see this coming. A couple Oilers push Perry hard in the back, but he ignores it.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
During the intermission, Bill Macdonald interviews Kent Huskins for TV and the in-arena video and asks him, "Is this the best period of hockey the Ducks have played all year?" Really, Bill? Huskins looks confused. And he's even more confused when Billy Mac asks him if being a healthy scratch last game burned inside him. "Well," he says, "it's never an ideal situation."
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The first goes by in a flash, as the Ducks give up the first goal, but get one back when Huskins comes through. It's 1-1.
19:20 - Garon loses his stick and accepts a lone from a teammate, just before Beauchemin unleashes a slap shot that Garon takes in the gut.
18:09 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Getzlaf
, 2 min. hooking. Getzlaf makes a bad play, hooking Sheldon Souray as Souray runs down the puck in the Anaheim zone.
Scoring change on the Edmonton goal (see below).
17:42 - EDM Penalty - Robert Nilsson, 2 min. hooking.
Trivia time: Which Duck has the rookie record for longest assist streak? Getzlaf? Kunitz? Beauchemin? Our guy guess Kunitz and he's ... wrong! It's Beauchemin, who had seven straight.
By the way, Garon? Deemed not good enough for the Kings, who got rid of him. Now he's starting for Edmonton. I'm just saying.
16:35 - Montador comes racing off the bench and rips a one-timer just before it goes over the blueline that Garon just does stop.
15:00 - Now Scott Niedermayer gets behind the gambling Edmonton D, but he can't put it through.
13:20 - Getzlaf picks up a puck ahead of the D that a tripped-up Perry barely bats ahead to him. He's all alone with just Garon to beat, but he makes too aggressive a move to his backhand and is at a tough angle to shoot. Garon knocks it away.
Oilers coach Craig MacTavish is shown on the TV screen, and how freakin' tan is that guy? He has spent the past couple months in Edmonton, right? Do they have spray tan in Edmonton? I need to know these things.
Panic time, folks. The tennis balls appear to not be here.
8:59 - Jonas Hiller
bangs his stick on the ice to signal the power play winding down, and the cadence gets progressively faster and louder for some reason. It was like a slow clap from an '80s movie back there.
6:59 - EDM Penalty - Sam Gagner, 2 min. interference. First chance for the Ducks to look for their first power play goal of the year.
6:32 - ANAHEIM GOAL - KENT HUSKINS - After the Hiller save, the Ducks head out on a rush of their own. Huskins takes a headman pass from Brad May and tattoos a slap shot from the top of the left circle that nearly cuts through the net. Huge goal for Huskins, who was a healthy scratch last night after struggling in the first two games. And how about this? It's one year to the day after he scored his first career goal against Detroit last year.
6:18 - Hiller makes a great kick-out save on a shot on a rush from Ethan Moreau.
4:20 - EDMONTON GOAL - SHAWN HORCOFF - Denis Grebeshkov kind of casually throws the puck at the net from just inside the blueline and Horcoff barely tips it along the way, as it sneaks through Hiller. Almost a fluke goal, but it's 1-0 Edmonton.
2:50 - First save for Hiller, who gets the start tonight.
2:55 - Selanne gives Carter a nice pass in the slot, and Carter's shot just misses high. Still no shots on goal for either team.
1:50 - Several Ducks tries on net, none of which actually hit the goalie.
0:00 - We're underway at Honda Center, the Ducks looking for their first win.
7:16 p.m. - Another nice rendition of both anthems by Amanda Guerrero, which followed a moment of silence for Alexei Cherepanov. By the way, the Oilers' Mathieu Garon is one of the few goalies to join the skaters on the blueline during the anthems. These are things I notice.
Surprising scratch for Anaheim is Sutherby, who had his first goal as a Duck last night.