ANAHEIM – The Ducks can commiserate with most of the rest of the NHL so far this season – they just can’t seem to figure out the Detroit Red Wings.
The Ducks (13-12-3) suffered a third loss in as many games to Detroit, getting blanked again by goalie Jimmy Howard in a 4-0 defeat that snapped a three-game winning streak. The Red Wings, meanwhile, won their fourth straight and improved their Western Conference-best record to 17-4-2, as Howard picked up his league-leading 15th win of the season.
"It is frustrating," said a quiet Corey Perry afterward. "We battled hard tonight, but we just couldn’t find a way to get the puck past Howard. It was just one of those nights where things just didn’t go our way."
It was the first matchup at Honda Center this season for the longtime rivals, with the first two games of the season going Detroit’s way, a 4-0 shutout on opening night and a 5-4 decision on October 23. Tonight’s score was not necessarily indicative of the battle, as the Ducks outshot Detroit 41-29, but had every bid turned away by Howard. "We did a lot of good things in the hockey game," said coach Randy Carlyle. "We controlled a lot of the play. We weren’t able to find a way to score a goal."
The Ducks went down three goals through two periods thanks to goals by the usual Red Wings suspects. Johan Franzen broke the ice just 1:09 into the game, following a Lubomir Visnovsky turnover in the Anaheim end. Valtteri Filppula picked off the puck and sent it just out of the reach of Franzen, who recovered it off the wall and fired a shot that beat Hiller from the low left wing circle.
"I didn’t actually see the puck," Hiller said. "I tried to get back to the post and I couldn’t see it. It was a bad turnover in our zone that led to the whole thing. It’s tough to be down that early in the game, especially against a team that plays such solid defense as Detroit does."
The Ducks had their chances for much of the rest of the period and the second, but couldn’t manage to hit paydirt. On the other end, Wings took a commanding lead in the final six minutes of the middle session. Tomas Holmstrom chipped in a rebound after a Henrik Zetterberg backhand off Hiller to make it 2-0. Then Danny Cleary got his team-leading 12th of the year on a slap shot from the right wing that traveled through traffic and slipped through.
"We had a couple of turnovers, a couple of mental lapses there and we’re down 2-0," Perry said. "They got the third one at the end of the period that was heartbreaker."
Anaheim didn’t get much going in the third, and Detroit added a fourth goal on a one-timer from Filppula with 31.7 seconds left.
"If we play as hard as we did tonight in every game this year and be as effective on our forecheck for stretches of the game, we’ll be alright," Carlyle said.
The Ducks will look to create a new winning streak when they take on Phoenix on Sunday at Honda Center.
20:00 - Rough one for the Ducks ends in a 4-0 loss to Detroit.
19:29 - DETROIT GOAL - VALTTERI FILPPULA - Filppula redeems himself by taking an Ericsson pass and one-timing it from the bottom of the right wing circle.
19:20 - Filppula crashes in, stopped by Hiller.
16:45 - Howard sticks out the leg to deny Fowler on the wraparound. Yes, Fowler on the wraparound.
16:38 - This period is zooming by, not a good sign for the Ducks.
12:50 - Bonino gets a good look from in deep off a Sutton pass, but Howard again makes the stop.
10:47 - Another bad turnover is bailed out by a Hiller save.
7:45 - PK gives the Ducks some daylight.
5:45 - ANA Penalty - Jason Blake, 2 min. roughing. Not sure what that was for.
5:15 - During the long delayed whistle on a Ducks penalty, Hiller dives out to make two big saves.
1:25 - DET Penalty - Todd Bertuzzi, 2 min. slashing. I'm feeling like the Ducks badly need one here.
1:00 - Wings do a great job getting back to make a possible 2 on 1 quickly disappear, as Howard stops Koivu's shot.
TV flashes a stat: Howard is 27-2-4 in his last 33 starts. He's showing why tonight. Very tough to beat.
0:00 - Off and running in the third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Not a good final half of the period for the Ducks, who give up goals to Holstrom and Cleary and trail 3-0.
18:26 - DETROIT GOAL - DANNY CLEARY - Seconds after Hiller denies an Abdelkader wraparound try, Cleary fires a slap shot from the right wing that sails through traffic and gets by Hiller It's 3-0 Detroit.
16:55 - Ryan gets it to Getzlaf, who feeds Perry for the one-timer that he sends over the stripe. Unfortunately, Ryan had run hard into the net and sent it sliding off its supports.
14:02 - DETROIT GOAL - TOMAS HOLMSTROM - Zetterberg gets in deep and fires a backhand off Hiller, who leaves a rebound in front that Holstrom chips in to make it 2-0 Detroit.
Our own IT guy, Mike Wing, is shown on Kiss Cam, shaking his head "no" before finally relenting and kissing his own wife. Sheesh.
10:32 - Ducks look very good, despite not showing it on the scoreboard yet. Shots are 23-10.
9:23 - Fowler has some room after Koivu pass and fires from the top of the circle, saved. Man, every time he shoots, I'm dying for him to score.
8:29 - Perry gets on a mini breakaway with Lidstrom all over him, and he can't get off a good shot before skidding into Howard.
7:45 - Visnovsky chips at a rebound and nearly gets it by Howard, who kick saves.
6:29 - Hiller completely bails out Sutton after a bad turnover in the middle of the ice, stretching out to glove a Helm shot. Superman theme rains down from the speakers.
5:04 - Lydman rips into a slap shot that just goes wide. Ducks outshooting Wings, 17-9.
3:50 - Parros tries to headman to Marchant for a possible breakaway, but just under his stick.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - Ducks play a solid period (15 shots) despite trailing 1-0 after one.
17:33 - Big missed opportunities for the Ducks. Nothing on either power play.
15:50 - Ryan fools people at this end of the arena (and in the press box) with a shot that hits the side of the net, but looked like it was in.
15:33 - DET Penalty - Pavel Datsyuk, 2 min. high sticking. Datsyuk gets Mara behind the Anaheim net.
14:20 - Perry nearly gets one from point blank, then takes a cross check.
13:45 - DET Penalty - Jonathan Ericsson, 2 min. interference. Give it up to McMillan for making it happen.
13:40 - McMillan pokes the puck away and speeds down the right wing to slip in front of Rafalski and go hard to the net, ultimately drawing a penalty.
11:50 - Fowler looking calm and cool as he slaloms through the Detroit defensen before ripping a slap shot off Howard.
10:25 - Getzlaf sends the puck into the corner and nearly gets a goal when it caroms into the crease and Howard just barely bats it away at the last instant.
6:18 - Ducks get bailed out when Hiller doesn't see the puck and Helm sends a blind shot off the post with Fowler pressuring him. Then Hiller recovers to snag the diving rebound try by Holmstrom. Close one.
Plenty of red-clad Wings fans behind the Anaheim net right now. Overall, 70-30 Ducks fans.
2:06 - Beleskey (just recalled today) gets involved early, firing a shot from the slot that Howard slides out to save.
1:09 - DETROIT GOAL - JOHAN FRANZEN - Filppula picks up a bad Visnovsky turnover in the Anaheim end, and feeds out of the reach of Franzen, but he picks it up off the wall and shoots from the bottom of the left wing circle, somehow getting it over Hiller's shoulder. It's 1-0 early.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center, the Ducks clad in their third jerseys for the second time this year.
7:07 p.m. - Lovely job on the anthem by the 2011 Rose Court, clad in red coats. Could have used them when we aren't playing the RED Wings, but timing is timing. Starters in bold/italics. Scratches crossed out.