ANAHEIM – The Ducks’ celebration of a playoff berth was postponed for the time being, and you could hardly find a more agonizing way for it to be delayed
Anaheim, which could have clinched a postseason bid with a win over the Dallas Stars in regulation, appeared to tie the score two separate times in the final minutes of the game, only to have both goals waved off.
With the Ducks trailing 4-3 late in the third, Teemu Selanne ignited the crowd of 16,424 when he redirected a Francois Beuchemin point shot into the Dallas net. But the goal was immediately waved off by referee Brad Meier, who determined that Saku Koivu interfered with goalie Kari Lehtonen a second before the shot went through. Replays confirmed that Koivu did make contact with Lehtonen’s legs as he passed by him in the crease.
"I haven’t seen the replay, so it’s tough to comment," Koivu said. "If I did hit him, it happened way before the puck went in the net. The referee probably doesn’t make the call unless he saw contact there. I just wanted to get in there and try to screen the goalie."
A little more than a minute later, it was more elation followed quickly by more heartbreak, as Bobby Ryan lifted a loose puck just under the crossbar with 49 seconds left. But again, Meier waved it off after determining that the goal was set up directly by a hand pass. Corey Perry dropped a airborne puck at his own feet in front of the net and didn't touch it with his stick, but it appeared to touch either his or a Dallas player's skate before it came to Ryan.
Rule 79.1 of the NHL rulebook says, A player shall be permitted to stop or “bat” a puck in the air with his open hand, or push it along the ice with his hand, and the play shall not be stopped unless, in the opinion of the Referee, he has directed the puck to a teammate.
"I don’t know whether or not he touched it, I just tried to follow through on it," Ryan said. "It’s heartbreaking when it happens like that. I don’t think he deliberately attempted to pass it to me with his hand. He tried to put it down and make a play at the net. I thought it hit a few things, a stick and some skates beforehand. Obviously, he saw differently. We were both at different vantage points."
Right calls or not, the Honda Center faithful were incensed as they watched a couple more chances at Ducks goals get denied in the final half-minute, this time by the Stars, who held on by the slimmest of margins.
The loss, which came less than 24 hours after a defeat in San Jose, means the Ducks will have to wait to clinch a spot in the postseason. It also kept alive the playoff hopes of the Stars, who snapped a six-game losing skid.
"I don’t think we’re happy with the way we played overall," Koivu said. "The focus wasn’t there. We made some mistakes. Dallas was at a must-win. They showed up, really defended well and got their breaks on the power play. Our 5-on-3 didn’t score. Those are the difference makers."
The Ducks went behind in the game during a rough second period that actually ended on a good note, as Perry potted a shorthanded goal to make it a 4-3 game. Perry fought for the puck with Jamie Langenbrunner along the wall, then after looking like he wanted to make a pass on the rush, he instead flipped a backhander just inside the left post with 1:17 left. It was the 47th of the year for Perry (leading the league) and fourth shorthander, a new Ducks record.
It also softened the sting of two Dallas goals earlier in the period, which gave the Stars a two-goal lead. Brenden Morrow took advantage of a fatiguing Ducks unit that had spent a ton of time in its own end by cashing in a one-timer from between the circles at 7:20. Then with 4:56 left in the session, Mike Ribeiro knocked down a mid-air puck with his chest and punched it into the open net.
"We don’t feel very good about the calls that went against us," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "We made some mistakes in the hockey game, not from lack of effort. There were just some mental mistakes. We shot ourselves in the foot in the second period with the penalty parade. We couldn’t get any momentum going. In the third, they just backed up five guys in the neutral ice and forced us to execute to get through it."
The Ducks and Stars each scored twice in the first period, with Anaheim striking first when Ryan Getzlaf one-timed a spinning backhand pass from Ryan on a top-line rush.
A few minutes later, Jeff Woywitka knotted it up when his seemingly innocent wrist shot from the left wing beat Ray Emery and hit the inside of the far post before banking in. Later in the period, Morrow picked up a loose puck and sent a blind pass to Ribeiro on the doorstep, and he deposited it into the open right side.
Anaheim soon tied it on a bizarre goal by Lubomir Visnovsky with 1:19 left in the first. During a scramble in front of the Dallas net, Lehtonen fell down, but Koivu’s attempt to punch in a rebound was denied on the doorstep by defenseman Stephane Robidas. As Robidas cleared the puck out of danger, Lehtonen got up and lost track of the play, allowing Visnovsky to send the puck past the standing-still netminder.
The Ducks may get a second chance at clinching a postseason berth when they take on the Sharks on Wednesday at Honda Center.
"At this time of year, it’s tough to dwell on," Ryan said. "You have to put it on the past. Tomorrow is a day where we can regroup and get ready for San Jose. Every game counts right now. There is always anxiety around this time of year and with the race that is going on."
Said Carlyle, "We’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster here for the last three weeks. Tomorrow is a day where you don’t do anything. That is what I told them. Don’t play golf, don’t do anything, just forget about what is going on. Your mind and body need a rest to settle down. We’re going to have to reenergize ourselves starting on Tuesday morning for Wednesday night’s game."
20:00 - END OF GAME - Ducks drop a heartbreaker, 4-3.
19:58 - Puck just slides wide on a Perry tip in front with 2 seconds left.
19:35 - Perry tries to jam the puck under Lehtonen as it rolls in the crease, but no go.
19:11 - Ducks again appear to tie it when Ryan chips the puck just under the crossbar, but again it's waved off. Perry dropped the puck down and never touched it as it slid to Selanne.
18:58 - DAL Penalty - Jamie Benn, 2 min. slashing. Benn knocks the stick out of Perry's hands and it will be 6 on 4.
18:52 - Timeout with 1:08 left.
18:40 - Emery to the bench with 1:20 left.
17:56 - Beauchemin fires a shot from the point that Selanne deflects into the net, igniting the crowd. But the goal is quickly waved off by referee Brad Meier, who determines that somewhere there was interference on the goaltender. Replays show Koivu bumped him a second or two before the shot, but it was minor. Crowd is incensed.
15:01 - McMillan sees an opening and fires just wide of the far side.
14:23 - Ducks nearly get one as Blake's shot rebounds off Lehtonen and rattles around in front.
Chicago lost to Tampa, so the Ducks remain a point ahead of the Hawks.
13:00 - A few minutes of deadness is ended when Beleskey whips a shot on net and nearly gets it by Lehtonen.
8:44 - Emery nicely gloves a Skrastins slap shot from straightaway.
During Smile Cam, cute little girl is showed on the Honda Vision, and her brother leans in front of her to get in the shot. She calmly pushes his head away. Loved it.
6:00 - Perry's stick gets flipped out of his hands by Benn and flies a good 15 feet over his head.
16,424 here tonight.
0:00 - Off and running in the third, the Ducks down by one. Remember, a win in regulation clinches a playoff berth. Right now though, it's all about getting even.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - A bad period ends on a good note for the Ducks, who give up two but get a late shorty from Perry and it's 4-3 going into the third.
18:43 - ANAHEIM GOAL (SHORTHANDED) - COREY PERRY - Absolutely gargantuan play by Perry, as he forces his way to the puck against Langenbrunner near the wall, looks like he wants to make a pass on the rush, but instead flips a backhander just inside the right post. It's the 47th of the year for Perry and the Ducks make it a one-goal game. Fourth shorthanded goal of the season for Perry, a Ducks record.
16:57 - Timeout. Ducks desperately need to kill this.
16:57 - ANA Penalty - George Parros, 2 min. holding. Parros gets whistled for holding Benn behind the net. Crowd growing impatient.
15:50 - Officials completely miss the Stars having seven men on the ice. A ton of fans saw it, however.
15:04 - DALLAS GOAL (POWER PLAY) - MIKE RIBEIRO - Just seconds after the Ruuti penalty expires, Ribeiro knocks down a loose puck off his chest and shuttles it into the open net. It's 4-2 Dallas. Ducks need to go to work.
14:41 - ANA Penalty - Toni Lydman, 2 min. high sticking. Ducks go down 2 men now.
12:59 - ANA Penalty - Jarkko Ruutu, 2 min. tripping. Ruutu is nailed for taking down Barch with the stick.
9:00 - Emery a big kick save right in front on Ott.
8:33 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry, 2 min. holding. Perry tries to ride Morrow into the wall in front of the Anaheim bench and doesn't let go. Morrow gets a little chirping in as Perry's on his back.
7:20 - DALLAS GOAL - BRENDEN MORROW - The Ducks are gassed as they spend a ton of time in their own end, and it shows, as Morrow is left elone to fire a one-timer from between the circles that beats Emery glove side. It's 3-2 Dallas.
They have the contest during the timeout where one fan answers a trivia question and gets a prize for getting it right. If she doesn't, the other contest (a guy) wins the prize. The woman correctly answers that Teemu Selanne was the last Duck to get NHL Player of the Month honors and she jumps up and down. So, for some reason, does the guy. Not sure what he thought was going on.
4:10 - Perry with a great feed to Sbisa, who shoots it off Lehtonen's shoulder.
3:28 - Ducks let a big opportunity get away as first Benn's penalty, and then Wandell's, expire.
1:28 - DAL Penalty - Tom Wandell, 2 min. high sticking. Another high stick, this one on Fowler, gives the Ducks a lengthy 5-on-3.
0:48 - DAL Penalty - Jamie Benn, 2 min. high sticking. Benn nicks Koivu and the Ducks get an early power play.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks get a late one to make it 2-2.
18:41 - ANAHEIM GOAL - LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY - Bizarre goal as Lehtonen falls down during a scramble in front of the net, during which Koivu gets denied trying to punch the puck in by Robidas standing in the crease. Meanwhile, Lehtonen gets up and pretty much stops playing when the puck kicks out to Visnovsky on the low left wing, and he sends it past the statuesque goalie. It's 2-2.
18:20 - Selanne with speed down right wing, but Lehtonen stops his slap shot.
17:07 - DALLAS GOAL - MIKE RIBEIRO - Morrow does a nice job picking up a loose puck and getting it to Ribeiro on the doorstep, and he flings it into the open right half. It's 2-1 Stars.
Some legit ogling going on by the Stars waiting for the faceoff as a few Power Players skate off the ice at the end of the timeout. Now's the time to strike.
14:33 - Perry whips a shot from the left wing circle completely over everything, including the netting. I'm not even sure that was deflected.
13:50 - Sbisa nails little Robidas into the wall, knocking his hat off.
13:10 - Lydman with a hell of a clear high off the glass out of his own corner. Crowd approves.
12:06 - ANA Penalty - Brad Winchester, 2 min. boarding. Winchester puts Goligoski into the wall, though it looked legal.
11:30 - Emery a good stop on a rebound try.
10:13 - DALLAS GOAL - JEFF WOYWITKA - Woywitka skates in on left wing with Sbisa in front of him and lets go of a seemingly innocent wrist shot that gets under Emery, hits the inside of the far post and goes in. Quick discussion by the officials about it, though I'm not sure why. That's a shot Emery stops 99 times out of 100. But that one time makes it 1-1.
7:27 - ANAHEIM GOAL - RYAN GETZLAF - Getzlaf makes up for passing up that shot, as Perry hits Ryan in the slot on the rush, and Ryan spins and lays it off to Getzlaf, who one-times it past an out-of-position Lehtonen. It's 1-0 Ducks on Getzlaf's 19th of the year.
7:15 - Perry with a nice cross-ice pass to Getzlaf, who doesn't take the shot and gets the puck stolen from him.
Oh, good. Screaming Guy is back.
3:15 - Big kill.
1:50 - Good save by Emery on a one-timer. He's playing both games of this back-to-back.
1:15 - ANA Penalty - Bobby Ryan, 2 min. holding. Ryan upends Robidas along the wall. Didn't care for the call.
0:30 - Tipped puck by Blake goes barely wide, drawing the familiar "awwww" from the crowd.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
5:07 p.m. - Another great job on the anthem by fan favorite Dawn Wright. Really belted it out tonight.
Lubomir Visnovsky is in the lineup after suffering a shoulder injury last night in San Jose. Starters in bold/italics.