ANAHEIM – A rare visit from the Capitals and a long-awaited return to Honda Center for the Ducks turned into a heck of a show for the home fans, but they ultimately left the building disappointed.
In a topsy-turvy affair that featured 13 combined goals and four lead changes, Alexander Semin scored his third goal of the game with 1:47 left to give the Capitals a 7-6 victory.
"I’m terribly disappointed in our hockey team tonight," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "It seemed like we lost all of our focus on the things that we’ve done in the previous three weeks or a month. It was one of those games where we didn’t do enough things right, other than score six goals. When you score six goals, you should win a hockey game. That is for sure."
The final Semin goal marked the third time Anaheim lost the lead in the game, and this time they didn’t have enough time left to recover. Despite pulling goalie Curtis McElhinney twice in the last minute for an extra attacker, for once the Ducks couldn’t generate much in front of the Washington net and ultimately suffered their first loss in the last five games. The Caps, meanwhile, snapped a three-game losing streak, each of the three coming to Pacific Division teams.
The Ducks had a chance to take the lead in that division by themselves after Dallas lost earlier in the night at Calgary, but they remain one point back of Phoenix. Anaheim went into the night fresh off a perfect 4-0 road trip and were playing their first game at Honda Center in two weeks.
"We’ve been playing well lately and have been able to beat some good teams on the road," said defenseman Cam Fowler. "There is no reason why we should come back in our building and put on an effort like that. There is no excuse. We are in a big part of the season here.
"All these points matter and you can’t put that kind of effort out there. I don’t think anybody in this room is happy with how they played."
Anaheim took the lead for the last time on a Bobby Ryan goal 5:51 into the third period that made it 6-5. Corey Perry skated out from behind the net to send the puck to Ryan Getzlaf, who touched-passed it to Ryan for the one-timer, which he punctuated with a leap off the glass. Ryan was among the six different Ducks who found the net in the game.
But Washington would even it one more time with 8:23 left in the game, as a Scott Hannan pass hit off McElhinney’s chest and settled in front of him, where Semin punched in the rebound.
Semin connected yet again about 6 1/2 minutes later, racing out of the corner and flipping a backhand shot that hit off McElhinney and got behind him for the game-winner. McElhinney was in the net for the fourth time in the last five games, as Jonas Hiller was placed on injured reserve for the second time in a week this morning with a recurrence of lightheadedness.
"It was frustrating and a difficult night," McElhinney said. "The offense put up six goals and we end up giving up seven. A better performance was needed from me tonight and it wasn’t there. It’s disheartening to let the boys down like that."
The gripping third period followed a wild and wooly first two that featured nine combined goals and three of those four lead changes. The Ducks got through it with a slim 5-4 lead.
Getzlaf (power play), Teemu Selanne and Toni Lydman helped give the Ducks a 3-2 lead through one period, which became a two-goal lead on a shorthanded tally by Perry 6:21 into the middle session.
On the penalty kill, Luca Sbisa patiently held the puck in his own end before hitting Perry with a pinpoint pass at center ice. Perry quickly darted around a charging Alex Ovechkin to get on a breakaway before firing the puck under goalie Michal Neuvirth (who had replaced starter Semyon Varlamov to begin the period).
But Washington got two quick ones to tie the game at 4, as David Steckel knocked in a Boyd Gordon pass with his skate and Semin chipped in a rebound off a McElhinney kick save.
The Ducks retook the lead, however, when a floating shot from the point by Lubomir Visnovsky clicked off the stick of Caps center Nicklas Backstrom and fluttered past Neuvirth.
Despite getting on the board first on Getzlaf’s backhander off the rebound, the Ducks trailed in the opening period after back-to-back goals by Ovechkin (his fifth in three career games at Honda Center) and Brooks Laich. But Saku Koivu made a gorgeous move to set up a shot that Selanne tipped in, and 84 seconds later, Lydman guided a point shot through a Perry screen near the end of the period to catch and pass the Caps.
And although the Ducks forged a lead yet again in the third, it was the Caps who got the final revenge on an off night for the Ducks. "Every member of our hockey club and the coaching staff has to take responsibility for the way we played tonight," Carlyle said. "It’s unacceptable. It’s easy to say we’re going to turn the page on it. We are to a certain point, but it’s going to take some review from the coaching staff and the players on how we played that poorly."
Anaheim will look to bounce back on a two-game road trip that starts Friday night in St. Louis.
"We have to dig deep as a group here," Fowler said, "and try to get back after it."
The Ducks are 4-1-0 in their last five games, 8-3-0 in the last 11, 14-5-0 in the last 19 and 19-9-1 in the last 29 overall.
At home, the Ducks are 8-3-0 in their last 11 contests. The club has posted a 17-9-1 record at Honda Center this season.
With four points tonight (1-3=4), Corey Perry extended his point streak to a season-high six games (4-10=14). He also has 8-12=20 points in the last 13 games and 13-16=29 in the last 23. Perry scored his third SHG of the season (fourth of his career), which is just one shy of the club record (Nine players in club history have scored three SHG in a season, most recently: Todd Marchant in 2009-10).\
Ryan Getzlaf also scored four points tonight (1-3=4), tying a season high (also four points on Oct. 13 vs. VAN (1-3=4) and Nov. 27 @ PHX (0-4=4). Since his return from injury after a 14-game absence, he has strung together a four-game point streak (1-7=8).
With a goal tonight, Teemu Selanne is just one goal shy of tying Joe Sakic (625) for 14th in all-time goals. Selanne has scored 624-690=1314 points in his career. He has points in five straight (3-6=9) and has earned 4-9=13 points in his last eight.
Bobby Ryan has scored seven goals in the last eight games (7-3=10).
Lubomir Visnovsky recorded his 400th career NHL point tonight (102-298=400) with a goal in the second period. Visnovsky has earned 2-13=14 points in the last 15 games and 6-19=25 in the last 28.
Brandon McMillan extended his point streak to a career high five games (3-2=5). The streak is currently the second-longest among NHL rookies (NYI’s Grabner has an active six-game streak (10-3=13)).
Jason Blake has a four-game scoring streak (1-4=5), his longest since Nov. 14-21, 2009 with Toronto (four games, 0-4=4).
Luca Sbisa recorded the second multi-point game (0-2=2) of his career (also 0-2=2 on Oct. 28, 2008 with Philadelphia at Atlanta).
Tonight’s attendance was 15,579.
20:00 - END OF GAME - A rollercoaster affair ends with a 7-6 loss for the Ducks.
19:58 - Washington ices it with 1.5 left.
19:40 - Mac to the bench again as the Ducks rush up the ice.
19:34 - Ducks ice it this time, forcing them to put McElhinney back in as the faceoff comes to the other end.
19:08 - Caps get the puck in their own end and Knuble shoots it at the open net, missing wide for the icing call with 52.7 left.
18:50 - McElhinney to the bench for an extra attacker.
18:13 - WASHINGTON GOAL - ALEXANDER SEMIN - Semin races out of the corner with it and gets little pressure as he closes in on McElhinney and backhands it behind him. It's a hat trick for Semin and it gives the Caps a 7-6 lead with 1:47 left.
16:41 - McElhinney does a nice job to make the stop and hold on after a shot through traffic.
13:20 - Getzlaf takes the puck away and has room on the rush down the right wing. He sends it to Sexton, who whiffs on the one-timer, and he second effort is saved. Ducks missed one there.
11:37 - WASHINGTON GOAL - ALEXANDER SEMIN - Hannan tries to send the puck in front from the corner, but it's deflected off McElhinney's chest and drops right in front of him, where Semin is there to punch in the rebound for his second of the game. We're tied at, believe it or not, 6-6.
10:37 - ANA Penalty - Francois Beauchemin and WSH Penalty - Mathieu Perreault, 2 min. each slashing. After a prolonged battle in the corner with the puck going nowhere, Perreault reacts to a Beauchemin slash with an even harder slash.
8:46 - ANA Penalty - Dan Sexton, 2 min. tripping. Sexton takes down Sloan, who may have just lost an edge. Crowd doesn't like it.
Scoreboard reveals that Dallas lost 4-2 at Calgary, meaning the Ducks would own the Pacific Division lead alone if they win this one tonight. Still a LONG way to go to get there, however.
5:51 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - Play continues after the net is knocked way off its supports by a Washington player trying to stop Getzlaf from heading up ice. A few seconds later, Perry comes from behind the net to feed the puck to Getzlaf, who touch-passes it across to Ryan for the one-timer. Ryan jumps off the glass Ovechkin-style to celebrate the goal that makes it 6-5.
5:00 - Something tells me this could be an exciting last 15 minutes.
0:58 - WASHINGTON GOAL - MIKE KNUBLE - Backstrom takes the puck from Alzner and sends it ahead to Knuble, who gets on a breakaway as Visnovsky falls on his belly. Knuble throws a couple of dekes at McElhinney to get him down and sprawled out before he sends it inside the right post. We're tied 5-5.
0:00 - Off and running in the third, the Ducks with some power play time.
20:00 - Another wild period ends with the Ducks leading it 5-4. Third period should be mildly interesting.
18:57 - WSH Penalty - Jason Chimera, 2 min. goaltender interference. Chimera is looking to screen in front and falls over McElhinney.
16:47 - ANA Penalty - Andy Sutton, 2 min. boarding and 5 min. fighting and WSH John Erskine, 2 min. instigating, 5 min. fighting and 10 min. misconduct. Sutton levels Hendricks into the wall behind the Ducks net and he has to answer for it from Erskine who starts raining blows as the two eventually drop the gloves near the wall. Both guys get some hard rights in, with Erskine drawing a pretty good cut on Sutton's face. The boarding call is interesting because no hand went up after the hit and the Ducks had the puck for awhile before the fight drew a whistle.
14:35 - Shot from the point by Fowler gets behind Neuvirth and sits in the crease before it's swept away at the last instant by Alzner with Selanne in pursuit. Crowd wanted that one.
13:18 - ANAHEIM GOAL - LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY - Visnovsky wrists a seemingly innocent shot from the point that floats through the air and deflects off Backstrom's stick, past a nearly frozen Neuvirth for the goal. In a game of pretty goals, that one was ugly, but it counts just the same. Ducks retake the lead, 5-4. This game is ridiculous.
11:30 - Gordon tries to force it in, but McElhinney hangs tough.
Timeout contest is Guess That Theme Song, with the theme from the Greatest American Hero coming down from the rafters. Choices are that, Alice and Silver Spoons. The contestant dude gets it right with no help. Awesome song, which will probably be in my head for the rest of the night.
9:41 - WASHINGTON GOAL - ALEXANDER SEMIN - Ovechkin creates the rush by muscling past Visnovsky, leading to Johansson sending the puck into the crease from the right where, where McElhinney attempts to kick it away. But Ovechkin and Semin are right on top of him and Semin punches in the rebound.
8:48 - Almost looked like we had another one, as Blake whips a pass from the wall into the crease, where Neuvirth nicely stops the tip try by Selanne.
7:52 - WASHINGTON GOAL - DAVID STECKEL - With pressure from Fowler, Boyd Gordon manages to throw a pass into the crease, where Steckel knocks it in with his skate. Small review to see if he kicked it, but he didn't and it's 4-3 Ducks.
7:40 - Perry has a chance from the wing, but fires high.
6:21 - ANAHEIM GOAL (SHORTHANDED) - COREY PERRY - Another phenomenal goal set up in great part by Luca Sbisa. On the PK, rather than sending the puck into enemy territory, he circles back and waits, finally hitting Perry with a pass at center ice. Perry picks it up, goes right around Ovechkin and fires it under Neuvirth for the shorty. One word: WOW. It's 4-2 Ducks.
5:04 - ANA Penalty - Andy Sutton, 2 min. tripping. Sutton takes down Hendricks in the corner.
3:30 - Exciting times around the net as Sbisa's slap shot bounces around a bit.
1:33 - Neuvirth makes a quick save, on a shot from the slot by Blake.
0:10 - New goalie for Washington, Michal Neuvirth.
0:00 - Here we go in the second, and if it's anything like the first, we're in for a treat.
20:00 - No less than three lead changes in the first 20 minutes as we already have a barn-burner, the Ducks leading it 3-2.
19:29 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TONI LYDMAN - Perry weaves through the Washington D before dropping the puck off at the point and setting up camp in time to screen a relatively soft Lydman shot that somehow gets through everybody. All of a sudden it's 3-2 Ducks.
18:05 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TEEMU SELANNE - Absolutely sick move by Saku Koivu to set this one up, as he stick handles around both Perreault and Gordon before firing a shot from the slot that Selanne tips through. Another beautiful goal in this game and it's 2-2.
16:07 - WASHINGTON GOAL - BROOKS LAICH - Selanne picks up the puck in the corner and makes an uncharacteristic pass through the middle of the ice, where Laich picks it off and sends it past McElhinney from in close. Bad turnover for 8 and it's 2-1 Caps.
There is a group of four guys a few rows behind the Ducks net wearing masks of famous president and wearing suits. Wonder if they're going to make Johnny Utah help them rob a bank after the game.
14:35 - Ovechkin falls down with pressure on the wing from Lydman and shoots it anyway. Yeah, that's not happening.
Timeout contest has fans karaoke singing the "Sister Christian" by Night Ranger. Absolutely awful.
10:43 - WASHINGTON GOAL - ALEX OVECHKIN - Ovechkin with an absolutely ridiculous highlight reel goal as he takes the puck behind the blue line goes right around Lilja and fires it past McElhinney as he's falling down. Tough to not appreciate that one, even though it came against the Ducks. If you missed it, you'll see it tonight on SportsCenter. It's 1-1.
9:15 - McElhinney goes on his stomack and kicks out the leg pad to make a huge save on Chimera alone in front. Crowd approves.
Shot of Beauchemin on the Ducks bench while "Welcome Back, Kotter" theme plays. Nice ovation from the crowd.
5:30 - McElhinney makes a big stop on Perreault on the doorstep after a Fowler turnover.
4:55 - Fowler comes agonizingly close to punching the puck under Varlamov.
4:10 - ANAHEIM GOAL - RYAN GETZLAF - Ryan throws the puck on net from the left wing wall, where it takes a crazy kick and nearly gets under Varlamov. The rebound comes off the goalie to Getzlaf, who dumps it in with the backhand. Getzlaf scores in his first home game since December 14 and it's 1-0 Ducks.
3:40 - WSH Penalty - Tyler Sloan, 2 min. interference. Sloan bumps Lapierre in front of the Caps net. During the delayed whistle, Lapierre shoves one Cap and gets a shove back from Erskine. Nothing else develops.
Screaming Guy is back with a familiar, "Hurt somebody!" I've missed him.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center (feels like we haven't been here in forever.)
7:07 p.m. - Nice job on the anthem by Robert Adams, whose name makes him sound like he was one of our nation's first presidents. Starters in bold/italics.