By Adam Brady (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ANAHEIM – One of the handful of problems for the Anaheim Ducks this season has been their tendency to look their worst against some of the poorest teams in the NHL.
That trend continued Sunday night against the lowly Atlanta Thrashers, who had a four-goal second period on their way to an 8-4 demolishing of the Ducks at Honda Center.
"Everything that you don’t want to happen happened," said Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer. "We made our share of mistakes and they scored their share of goals. I guess those nights do happen once in awhile. Unfortunately, we can’t afford right now. That is the worst part of it."
|The Thrashers scored four goals in a span of 6:51 in the second period (three by Kovalchuk) to bury the Ducks.
All the good feelings the Ducks garnered from consecutive victories over the Northwest Division-leading Calgary Flames were wiped away by a Thrashers team that entered the game 14th out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference. They had dropped seven of nine games before the game, but hardly looked that way in completely outplaying the Ducks for most of the night.
"We shot ourselves in the foot," said Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf. "We have to regroup now and go back to work. Nothing really needs to be said. Everybody knows what went on. We got embarrassed in our own building tonight."
Leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk had a hat trick among the four goals scored by Atlanta in a span of 6:51 at the start the second period, which put the Thrashers up 6-1 and effectively put the game out of reach.
The Ducks looked like they had a flicker of hope in the third period, when a Bobby Ryan goal at 2:26 made it 6-3 and an Atlanta penalty 3 1/2 minutes later gave Anaheim an opportunity to make it a two-goal game. But that hope went out the door when the Ducks turned the puck over on the power play and Colin Stuart wristed in a shorthanded goal from the right wing that put Atlanta in front 7-3.
Andrew Ebbett managed to bat in a bouncing puck to pull the Ducks to within 7-4 with 10 minutes left in the third, but that was as close as they would get. After an Atlanta penalty, the Ducks emptied the net with three minutes left to give them a 6-on-4 situation. But after Teemu Selanne rang one off the post, Niclas Havelid picked up the puck behind the cage and rang it around the boards into the empty Anaheim net.
"That last goal was a pretty good summation of the night," Niedermayer said. "It’s a pretty frustrating night to be a part of. I know I made my share of mistakes out there. That is where it has to start is I have to be better and we’ll go from here."
The Ducks were outmatched right from the start, as Atlanta outshot them 19-11 in the first period, and Anaheim was lucky to escape with only a 2-1 deficit. But penalties by Bret Hedican and Chris Pronger near the end of the period (capping off five straight minors for the Ducks) gave the Thrashers a long 5-on-3 to start the middle session.
And they capitalized, as Kovalchuk ripped a one-timer that ricocheted off Ducks defenseman Steve Montador before darting inside the post. That goal opened the door for three more Atlanta goals in a span of 2:26, two of them came from Kovalchuk, who had his hat trick when he connected 8:17 into the period to give Atlanta a shocking 6-1 lead. Kovalchuk’s third goal, his team-leading 27th on the year, came less than a half-minute after the Ducks pulled Jean-Sebastien Giguere and replaced him with Jonas Hiller.
"Every bounce ended up on their stick and they were shooting the puck," Getzlaf said. "We are a team that prides ourselves on not giving up so many shots. In the first period, it’s tough when you take that many penalties to get the momentum. We didn’t respond the way we needed to."
|Selanne's two goals were one of the few highlights for Anaheim.
The Ducks managed to get one back with 5:55 left in the second, when Selanne got his stick on a high Bret Hedican shot and tipped it through. It was the second of the game for Selanne, who also scored 5:28 into the first period when he one-timed an Ebbett feed past goalie Kari Lehtonen.
That goal wiped out the 1-0 lead Rich Peverley gave the Thrashers 3:57 into the game, the 10th time in the last 11 contests the Ducks have given up the first goal. But that 1-1 tie for the Ducks became a distant memory after the disastrous first half of the second period.
The eight goals was the most the Ducks have given up since losing 8-0 to the Dallas Stars in 2001. Along with tonight's defeat, the Ducks have suffered losses in the last five weeks to the likes of Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders, each of which were at or near the bottom of the league at the time.
"Those are ones that you bang your head against the wall and you try to figure out how we could perform to the level we performed in," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "It just seemed that we didn’t have anything going in a lot of areas. We tried to battle back, but we just got frustrated. Pucks bounced away form us in every situation. We started to do too much as individuals and just feed their attack."
The Ducks will hope to get it turned around when they take on the rival Kings at Honda Center on Wednesday night.
"What happens as these games wind down, the teams that we are in the pack against, it becomes must-wins when we play those teams," Carlyle said. "We play a bunch of them multiple times. The pressure is going to be squarely pushed toward us. We put ourselves in this situation. We’re responsible for it."
20:00 - END OF GAME - An absolutely depressing performance by the Ducks, who fall 8-4 to the 14th-place Thrashers.
17:53 - ATLANTA GOAL (SHORTHANDED and EMPTY NET) - NICLAS HAVELID - Selanne tries a one-timer that clanks off the post, and Havelid picks up the puck behind the net and rings it around the boards, where it somehow travels the length of the ice and heads into the empty Anaheim net. It's 8-4.
16:50 - The Ducks empty the net.
16:38 - ATL Penalty - Mathieu Schneider, 2 min. holding. If the Ducks can score two goals on this power play, you never know.
During the break, the out-of-town scoreboard shows the Red Wings and Sharks both taking losses today. Unfortunately, the in-town scoreboard doesn't look too good.
12:45 - Selanne, looking for the hattie, skates hard down the right wing before firing a wrist shot that Lehtonen knocks away.
Give it to the Ducks, they are still playing hard. They just can't get it done tonight.
10:02 - ANAHEIM GOAL - ANDREW EBBETT - Selanne puts the puck on net from the low angle that Lehtonen stops. But with Ryan applying pressure in front, the puck squirts out to Ebbett between the circles, and he bats the rebound through. It's 7-4 Atlanta.
6:00 - ATLANTA GOAL (SHORTHANDED) - COLIN STUART - Trying to send the puck back to Pronger at the blueline, Niedermayer turns it over to Stuart, who heads up the right wing with Pronger in front of him. He sends a wrist shot with little pressure from Pronger that somehow eludes Hiller on the stick side. Just when you think it can't get any worse for the Ducks, it does. It's 7-3 Atlanta.
5:35 - ATL Penalty - Tobias Enstrom, 2 min. roughing. I'm telling you, if the Ducks can somehow make it 6-4 against the 29th-best penalty kill in the league ... stranger things have happened.
3:50 - Christensen ends up with the puck alone in front of Hiller and he makes a pretty kick save to deny the seventh goal. Erik Christensen. She was great in "Swimfan" and "Traffic."
2:26 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - Montador skates with it over the blueline and sends it to Ryan on the right wing. He heads into the middle of the circle before launching a wrist shot that flies past Lehtonen's glove and hits the inside of the near post. It's the 19th of the year for Ryan and it's 6-3 Atlanta.
0:00 - Here we go in the third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The Ducks give up four goals in a span of 6:51 and only get one back from Selanne to trail 6-2.
14:05 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TEEMU SELANNE - Right off the draw, Festerling sends it on net from just inside the blueline and Selanne, with his back to the goalie, tips it through in midair. A video replay review is held to determine if it was touched with a high stick and after some time on the headset, the referee signals it's good. I have to admit, the way things are going tonight, I'm surprised. Second of the game for Selanne, but all it does is cut the Atlanta lead to 6-2.
12:31 - Ducks kill the penalty. No, seriously.
I just looked up at the scoreboard and it says Atlanta is leading 6-1. That can't be right, can it?
11:16 - With the Ducks shorthanded, they still get some positioning in the Atlanta zone, and Moen takes a slap shot that Lehtonen gloves.
10:31 - ANA Penalty - Teemu Selanne
, 2 min. hooking. A rare one for Selanne, and he's not too happy about it.
9:04 - Perry wrists a shot from the circle that Lehtonen deftly gloves.
It's Kiss Cam time and I have to say I was a little nervous. My dad and girlfriend are at this game together. Thank GOD they didn't put them up there.
8:17 - ATLANTA GOAL - ILYA KOVALCHUK - Kovalchuk races to pick up the puck at center ice and has only Hedican in front of him as he lets go of a wrist shot from the left wing circle that eludes Hiller on the far side. Hat trick for Kovalchuk. If I were a paying customer, I'd head for the exit. This is awful.
7:40 - Giguere out. Hiller in.
7:40 - ATLANTA GOAL - ILYA KOVALCHUK - Chris Thorburn heads up the right wing and slides the puck to Todd White in the circle. He drops it back to Kovalchuk, who drills a one-timer past Giguere. Second of the game for Kovalchuk. It's 5-1 Thrashers and I'm officially depressed.
5:51 - ATLANTA GOAL - COLBY ARMSTRONG - Colin Stuart races down the right wing and tries a backhander that Giguere tries to sweep away. But the puck stays in front of Giguere when Erik Christensen crashes the net and it settles in the slot, where Armstrong pokes it through. It's 4-1 Atlanta and this has officially gotten embarrassing.
3:09 - The Ducks need one, and quickly.
1:59 - Thankfully, the Ducks escape any further damage.
1:26 - ATLANTA GOAL (POWER PLAY) - ILYA KOVALCHUK - Like you couldn't see this one coming. Kovalchuk lines up a ripped one-timer off a Hainsey pass that deflects off Steve Montador and gets past Giguere. It's 3-1 Thrashers and they still have some power play time left.
0:45 - Giguere saves and holds a Hainsey rocket from the circle. That's a start.
0:00 - Here we go in the second, the Ducks staring at 1:48 of 5-on-3 time.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - It's a mostly awful 20 minutes for the Ducks, who give up two goals on 19 Atlanta shots. Meanwhile, the Ducks commit a rash of penalties, two of which will carry over into the second, where the Thrashers will skate 5-on-3.
19:59 - ANA Penalty - Chris Pronger, 2 min. cross checking. The Ducks look absolutely stellar right now.
19:37 - ANA Penalty - Bret Hedican, 2 min. high sticking. Hedican gets Kovalchuk in the face.
18:57 - ATLANTA GOAL (POWER PLAY) - BRYAN LITTLE - Kovalchuk sends the puck down low to Little, who has plenty of room to slide in front of Giguere and roof it under the crossbar. It's 2-1 Atlanta as the Ducks get inevitably bitten by penalties.
18:19 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry
, 2 min. slashing. This isn't going to work at all.
18:10 - Nice save by Lehtonen as Getzlaf tries to one-time a Perry feed across the slot.
17:43 - Just as Pronger leaves the box, Giguere sucks in a Schneider one-timer from the circle.
16:50 - Giguere makes a couple more nice stops on Kovalchuk rockets.
15:38 - ANA Penalty - Chris Pronger, 2 min. tripping. Pronger actually gets his stick hooked into two guys, and Perrin is the one who goes down.
15:33 - Giguere makes a second straight nice stop on a Kovalchuk shot. He's being put to work so far tonight. Twelve Thrasher shots.
We've seemingly had three TV timeouts in the span of about two minutes. The Power Player ice cleaners must be exhausted.
11:30 - Giguere gets tangled behind the net with Eric Perrin and Perrin gets the puck away and nearly banks it into the Anaheim net.
10:10 - Selanne heads back to the bench. Looked like an equipment problem.
6:00 - Marchant jumps on a loose puck exited from the Ducks zone and is all alone on a breakaway. He makes a deke, but his shot is stopped by Lehtonen. That's approximately the 830th straight breakaway for the Ducks that has been denied.
5:40 - Selanne heads to the locker room. Not sure why.
5:38 - ANA Penalty - Andrew Ebbett, 2 min. hooking.
5:28 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TEEMU SELANNE - Selanne tosses the puck along the right wing wall and it's chased down by Ebbett, who fights with an Atlanta player for it before sending a pass across the middle back to Selanne. It doesn't have a lot of zip on it, but still gets under Garnet Exelby's stick, and Selanne one-times it home. We're tied 1-1.
4:31 - Mike Brown and Chris Thorburn are yapping at each other, and suddenly Thorburn turns and engages Brown in a fight. Thorburn grabs him with two hands and gets Brown in the head a couple of times as Brown is down on one knee. The official jumps in and breaks it up somewhat early, apparently explaining to Brown his reasons for doing so.
3:57 - ATLANTA GOAL - RICH PEVERLEY - The Thrashers fire away at Giguere, as he makes a handful of saves, but it doesn't last. Peverley punches in the loose puck after Giguere kick-saves a Mathieu Schneider shot from the slot and it's 1-0 Atlanta. It's the 10th time in the last 11 games the Ducks have given up the first goal of the game.
3:16 - Kunitz feeds Perry in front and his one-timer is stopped. We should see a Ducks goal sometime soon.
Not only is the referee wearing Ducks pants, but he apparently has a shirt that came from Foot Locker, because it doesn't even hasve a number on the back. Don't expect a good game out of him tonight.
2:07 - Ryan nearly gets one as he tries to one-time a Morrison feed and tries to punch the rebound in. Both saved.
1:34 - Morrison tries to feed from the left wing to a crashing Ryan, but Ryan can't get a stick on it before he runs into Lehtonen and knocks the goal off.
0:08 - ATL Penalty - Bench minor, 2 min. delay of game. An icing call eight seconds in, and just before the draw in the Anaheim zone, there is a bit of confusion as the official is looking at his card. It appears the Thrashers had a player start the game who wasn't listed as a starter. I think it was Ron Hainsey. To make things even stranger, the referee apparently forgot his pants tonight and appears to be wearing a pair of Ducks running pants.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
5:08 P.M. - Newcomer Natasha Zimbarro, who has a ton of curly dark hair on her head, sings the anthem with a country twang and a powerful voice. Nicely done.
Starting Goaltenders - ANA Jean-Sebastien Giguere; ATL Kari Lehtonen
Starting Skaters - ANA Sheldon Brookbank
, Chris Pronger, Teemu Selanne
, Andrew Ebbett, Bobby Ryan
; ATL Garnet Exelby, Zach Bogosian, Erik Christensen, Colby Armstrong, Colin Stuart
Scratches - ANA Ryan Carter
; ATL Nathan Oystrick, Boris Valabik, Jordan LaVallee