ANAHEIM – Although they were unaware of it while in the midst of a heartbreaking loss to the rival Kings, the Ducks' slim playoff hopes were dashed minutes earlier some 1,300 miles north in Vancouver.
While the Ducks were in the middle of what would ultimately be a losing shootout with Los Angeles, the Colorado Avalanche edged the Canucks 4-3 in a shootout of their own to clinch the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference and officially eliminate Anaheim.
That came mere minutes before Anze Kopitar converted in the shootout to finish off the Ducks 5-4 in a game in which they saw what was once a three-goal lead disappear late in the third period. With the Ducks desperately clinging to a one-goal lead in a third period they played mostly on their heels, the Kings finally made them pay on a Michal Handzus backhander with 1:09 left in regulation that tied the game at 4-4.
"It seemed like we were on a roll and playing well," said Todd Marchant of a Ducks team that had won four of its last five to make a last dash for the postseason. "Even tonight, we had a lead. But we just couldn’t keep it. We sat back a little too much and they took advantage of that."
Following a scoreless overtime in which both teams had multiple bids to win it, Corey Perry led off the shootout with a conversion. But that was all Anaheim would get, as Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu had unsuccessful bids and the Kings won it on a pretty leave-behind move by Kopitar in the third round.
The Ducks went into the game knowing that a loss or a Colorado win would doom their fleeting playoff hopes, and it appeared Anaheim would take care of its own business when it jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second. That advantage was cut to two on an Alexander Frolov power play goal late in the second period, and L.A. got within one courtesy of a nifty move by Justin Williams 7:56 into the third.
Anaheim and goalie Curtis McElhinney denied a number of Kings chances to get even, until Handzus broke through for them to even the score.
"Today was a game that was very similar to many that we played this year," said Scott Niedermayer. "It was disappointing to let it game away. It’s been tough year. We’re disappointed that we’re in this situation. We’re not happy at all."
Added Perry, "We stopped playing that forechecking game that got us up 4-1. Those things you have to bring every night and stop doing. Maybe we sat back a little bit too much tonight and it hurt us."
The Ducks built their lead thanks in part to Selanne goals in each of the first two stanzas. Selanne scored the first of his pair with 3:12 left in the first period to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead. He one-timed a Jason Blake pass into goalie Jonathan Quick, but stayed with the rebound and flipped it into the net.
Blake scored one himself to get the Ducks on the board 5:28 into the game, taking a pass from Ryan just outside the crease and sending it under Quick.
Both Ryan and Selanne struck in the second, Ryan getting his first in the last nine games thanks to a Kings miscue behind the net. Quick chased the puck and tried to lay it off to Randy Jones, who lost it off his blade to Ryan and he easily deposited it into the open net.
Quick was pulled for backup Erik Ersberg not long after that goal, and Los Angeles came back with a Dustin Brown power play strike to make it 3-1 Ducks. But Selanne countered about 2 1/2 minutes later, one-timing a shot from the left wing circle between Ersberg's wickets.
The Kings did damage again on the man advantage later in the period on an unorthodox goal in which Frolov fired a shot that kicked high off McElhinney and deflected into the net as Frolov was checked behind by Aaron Ward.
That was the first of three unanswered for the Kings, who got some payback after going down 2-1 to Anaheim Saturday night at Staples Center in a shootout that came after a late Ducks goal in regulation.
The Kings qualified for the postseason last Sunday for the first time since 2002. For the Ducks, it’s the first season without a postseason berth after four straight following the 2004-05 lockout.
"It’s been five years now since some of us have had this feeling, and it’s not a lot of fun," Marchant said. "We gave up too many points and too many games early on in the year. It’s tough. This is an awful feeling. I’ve only had a handful of times in my career. It is definitely a bitter taste that sits in your mouth all summer." GAME NOTES
The Ducks have gone 4-0-2 in the last six games and earned points in 10 of the last 12 (8-2-2, 19 pts.). The club is also 22-12-3 in the last 37 contests.
The Ducks have also gone 5-0-2 in the last seven at Honda Center and are 16-3-3 in the last 22 contests at home.
Over the last three games, the Ducks have gone six-for-13 on the power play for a 46.2% success rate. The club has also gone 13-for-35 (37.1%) on the power play over the last 10 games dating back to Mar.19 vs. NY Islanders.
With two goals tonight, Teemu Selanne now has five goals in his last four games and now ranks tied for eighth in the NHL with SJ’s Dany Heatley in goals-per-game (.49). He has points in six of his last seven games (5-6=11) and points in eight of his last 10 (6-9=15). With 26 goals on the year (26-21=47), Selanne has had 13, 25-or-more goal seasons.
With 1-1=2 this evening, Jason Blake has scored 2-6=8 points in the last four games and 4-6=10 points in the last nine.
Saku Koivu has 4-5=9 points in the four games and 7-9=16 in the last 12. With 19-31=50 points on the season, Koivu has now eclipsed the 50-point mark for the seventh consecutive season.
With two assists tonight, Lubomir Visnovsky has 0-6=6 points in the last six games and 3-8=11 points in the last 12.
Bobby Ryan has a three-game point streak (1-3=4), including 1-1=2 tonight. His 32-28=60 points on the season is a career high.
Including tonight’s assist, Scott Niedermayer has earned points in eight of the last 10 contests (2-7=9).
Tonight’s attendance was 16,278.
LAK Anze Kopitar's attempt is GOOD, as he drags the puck behind himself and taps it through with the right hand. Kings win it 5-4.
ANA Saku Koivu's attempt is NO GOOD, as he loses control on the second move.
LAK Jack Johnson's attempt is GOOD, as he beats McElhinney stick side.
ANA Teemu Selanne's attempt is NO GOOD, as he slows and tries a wrister into the goalie.
LAK Jarret Stoll's attempt is NO GOOD, as his shot hits the crossbar.
Ducks are eliminated. Colorado just won the shootout.
ANA Corey Perry's attempt is GOOD, as he fakes a shot, dekes and sends it past Ersberg just before crashing into the net.
Because Colorado got a point, if the Ducks lose this shootout, they're eliminated.
5:00 - END OF OVERTIME - We're going to a shootout.
4:58 - O'Donnell whiffs on a shot at an open net just as time is winding down.
4:20 - Perry fires off Ersberg, big rebound that Blake almost sends through.
3:05 - Blatant Doughty trip as the puck goes the other way. No call.
2:20 - Another save on a Wiz shot from point blank.
2:10 - Kick save on a Brookbank shot.
0:35 - Koivu almost does it again, picking up a Kings giveaway right in front of the net and losing it just as he tries to backhand it home. Looked like a trip.
0:25 - Marchant tries to do some work with the puck in the Kings' end and gets thrown down hard by young Drew Doughty.
0:00 - Here we go in OT.
20:00 - END OF REGULATION - We're going to overtime, an overtime the Ducks never wanted.
19:30 - McElhinney takes an open Kopitar slot shot in the gut, falling on his side while holding it.
18:51 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - MICHAL HANDZUS - The Ducks are on their heels and it finally comes back to bitre them. From the left wing, Williams shuttles it into the slot to Handzus, who sends it to his backhand and puts it through to tie the game 4-4.
Overtime in Vancouver, meaning Colorado needs just one point to clinch.
16:48 - Eminger fires a just-for-the-heck-of-it shot from beyond the blue lien that nearly gets under Ersberg as he has no idea where it is.
15:30 - Still just two shots in the period for Anaheim, 13 in the game.
15:30 - McElhinney, just does squeeze it off a point shot with Frolov all over him.
14:20 - Crowd wants interference when Selanne gets bumped chasing his own dump-in. It's not interference, but it sure was when Wisniewski did it earlier.
Vancouver scores on the power play. It's 3-3 with four minutes left.
13:05 - Bodie takes a gamble pinching and can't come up with the puck, giving L.A. numbers the other way, but Handzus' shot is off Mac's shoulder.
12:00 - Big save Mac, and he knocks away the rebound just before Stoll arrives.
11:50 - Visnovsky heads off the ice and right to the locker room.
11:00 - Just 12 shots for the game for Anaheim. Luckily, four have gone through.
10:25 - Mac knocks the puck away with the blocker to set up a 2-on-1 in which Beleskey waits too long and makes a bad cross-ice pass.
7:56 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - JUSTIN WILLIAMS - Williams crosses over in the Anaheim end, eluding Steve Eminger, who commits too early by diving to poke away a puck he can't get to. Williams continues toward the net, where he goes around a drawn-out McElhinney and tucks the puck inside the near post. Ducks lead cut to just a goal.
6:30 - Another close one was Wiz goes down on his belly to stop a Dustin Brown crossing pass and the puck goes just wide. Not a good PP for Anaheim.
6:00 - Close call as Frolov tries to force it through shorthanded, and a fat rebound is swept away by Wisniewski.
4:42 - LAK Penalty - Anze Kopitar, 2 min., goaltender interference. Just after Selanne does a nice job poking the puck away to break up a rush, Kopitar runs over Mac after seemingly getting shoved from behind by Eminger. We'll take it.
One tennis ball behind the net in section 215 and a rogue one three sections over in 212.
1:20 - A Williams one-timer just misses.
0:00 - Here we go in the third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - It's a topsy-turvy one for Anaheim, which gets goals from Ryan and Selanne, but give up two to the Kings to lead it 4-2.
18:47 - Handzus eludes Niedermayer on the right wing, but fires wide of the far side.
16:41 - LOS ANGELES GOAL (POWER PLAY) - ALEXANDER FROLOV - Hard to tell how this one went in, as Frolov crashes the net from the left wing and sends it off McElhinney. The puck again flutters in the air, where it appears to go in off Ward as he checks Frolov from behind. They announce the goal as going to Brown, but that can't be right, as he sent the puck to Frolov, who took the initial shot. Either way, it's 4-2 Ducks.
15:40 - Ducks nearly get a shortie as Chipchura is joined by Eminger on the rush and fires off Ersberg.
14:51 - ANA Penalty - James Wisniewski, 2 min. interference. Interesting call as Wisniewski runs into Frolov near the red line after Frolov dumps the puck and chases it himself.
Avs up 3-2 (dammit) with five minutes left in the second.
12:19 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - It's Selanne again, as Visnovsky sends it to him from the point and the Flash one-times it from the left wing circle right between Ersberg's wickets for his second of the game. And it's 4-1 Ducks.
12:00 - Koivu fires from in deep off a Niedermayer pass. Nice save.
10:57 - LAK Penalty - Wayne Simmonds, 2 min. slashing.
9:46 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - DUSTIN BROWN - Brown glides by Wisniewski on the left wing and cuts toward the net, where McElhinney pokes the puck away and into the air. But when it comes down in the crease, Brown stays with it to backhand it through. It's 3-1 Ducks.
9:10 - Ryan almost gets another one out of goalie carelessness, throwing it on net from a bad angle as Ersberg scrambles to get back.
It's 2-2 in Vancouver midway through the second.
7:15 - Blake, still doing everything, gives Greene a nice shoulder check behind the net.
5:16 - Kill. Taco.
3:50 - Big stop in the high chest by Mac on a Stoll rocket from the point.
3:16 - ANA Penalty - Sheldon Brookbank, 2 min. roughing. Brookbank is the only one charged during a scuffle after the whistle in the Anaheim end.
2:49 - Quick out, Erik Ersberg in.
2:01 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - This one's a lot easier for Ryan after Quick goes behind the net and lays the puck off to Randy Jones. But Jones barely gets his stick blade on it, giving it away to Ryan, who easily dumps it into the abandoned net. It's 3-0 Ducks as Ryan scores his 32nd of the year, but first since he had two on March 17 against Chicago.
1:50 - Bonino wins the draw and immediately pounces on the puck, putting it on net, where Ryan twice gets robbed, once by the post.
1:15 - Selanne chases down a bouncing puck past a couple of Kings and fires high from the wing. Yeah, still fast.
Avs leading Canucks 2-1 early in the second.
0:00 - Off and running in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Great first stanza for Anaheim, which gets goals from still-hot second-liners Blake and Selanne to lead 2-bagel.
16:48 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TEEMU SELANNE - On the move, Blake saucers the puck to the top of the crease, where Selanne skids in front to one-time it. It hits off Quick's glove, but Selanne stays with it, flipping the rebound off the twine. It's 2-0 Ducks on Selanne's 25th of the year and 604th all time. Retire? Let's hope not. It's 2-0 Ducks.
15:45 - Frolov gets on the breakaway and fires it off McElhinney (heretofore known in this space as "Mac" for brevity and spelling purposes).
15:20 - Klune sends the puck into the crease, where luckily it keeps going without being touched. Quickly at the other end, Brown goes crashing down the wing and has it taken away from him by Randy Jones (not the 1976 Cy Young winner) just before he's ready to fire.
It's trivia time and tonight's contestant is 7 1/2-year-old Derek from Anaheim and he's playing for a PS3 (which I can endorse as a good prize). The questoin is, what do linemates Teemu Selanne, Jason Blake and Saku Koivu have in common? They all played for Colorado, all played in 1,000 games or all won the Masterton Trophy? He guesses, "Doo doo." Kidding. Without hesitation he says, "3!" meaning Masterton Trophy ... and he's right! Nicely done.
12:45 - Niedermayer reaches out to steal away a puck Frolov was waiting for behind the net. Yep, he's still good.
11:10 - Ward throws a pretty good shot on Ivanans.
Colorado, which needs to lose to keep the Ducks' faint hopes alive, is up 1-0 in Vancouver with 9:29 left in the first. So much for hoping the first goal of a game is a good sign.
7:32 - McElhinney does a nice job to stickhandle on a bouncing puck and send it out of harm's way with Simmonds charging.
5:28 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - JASON BLAKE - Possibly the hottest Duck not named Koivu, Blake takes a pass on the doorstep from Ryan (who was cruising behind the net) and sends it under Quick for the first strike of the game.
5:03 - LAK Penalty - Sean O'Donnell, 2 min. hooking. The Ducks do draw the penalty on that rush.
5:01 - Nice pass to a charging Visnovsky up the middle on the rush, but he can't angle it.
2:10 - ANA Penalty - James Wisniewski, 2 min. high sticking. Wiz gets Kopitar in front of the Anaheim net.
1:15 - Stoll wheels and fires from the slot, saved by McElhinney.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
7:07 p.m. - Dawn Wright (where've you been, Dawn?) sings another passionate rendition of the anthem. Starters in bold/italics. Scratches crossed out.