ANAHEIM – A rough opening 20 minutes left the Ducks in a hole they never climbed out of, as a late comeback fell just short in a 3-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild at Honda Center.
Two Cam Fowler goals – one in the second and one late in the third – weren’t quite enough as Anaheim lost its 10th game in the last 12.
"You try to put your finger on it and do different things to prepare," said Bobby Ryan's of the Ducks' tendency to start slow this season. "We’ve taken different approaches and nothing has worked. Twenty-five guys in the room have to say enough is enough and that hasn’t happened yet. It’s been embarrassing."
Fowler scored the second of his pair of goals (his first two of the season) with 52.5 seconds left in regulation, slinging a wrist shot through a Corey Perry screen to get the Ducks to within a goal. That goal came with goalie Dan Ellis on the bench for an extra attacker, and he was out of the net in the final minute again as the Ducks failed to generate any more scoring chances before the final horn.
"It’s up to us in here to figure out what is going on with the start of our games," Fowler said. "Especially with this big home stretch here, we should be excited to play and ready to go in the first period. It just seems like one bad bounce after the other. We just put ourselves so far behind. The next thing you know, the next two periods we have to claw out of it."
Ellis saved all 11 shots he saw after replacing starter Jonas Hiller to start the second period.
Hiller was in net for a dreadful opening period for the Ducks, in which they gave up three Minnesota goals to fall into a 3-0 deficit. Kyle Brodziak punched in a rebound six minutes into the game, and Matt Cullen and Jared Spurgeon each scored within the last five minutes of the stanza.
"We dug ourselves a hole and tried to mount a comeback. The question is why?" said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "Everybody is asking that question. It’s something we’d like to look and do an analysis of. Our execution and ability to get involved in the hockey game, we were way off-base."
The Ducks got one back early in the second, as Fowler fired a shot from the left wing circle that flew under goalie Nick Backstrom’s left arm. Backstrom had 32 saves on the night.
But the Ducks couldn’t get any closer in the period, as two different Teemu Selanne shots rang the left post and Anaheim failed to capitalize on a 4-on-3 power play midway through it.
The Ducks outshot the Wild 14-3 in the final period, but only had Fowler’s second goal to show for it. Anaheim is 1-5-2 since beating the Wild on October 27 in Minnesota.
"On paper, you look at this team and we should be doing a lot better than we are," Fowler said. "Paper only says so much. It’s up to us right now to rally around each other."
The Ducks face the Kings in a back-to-back Freeway Face-Off battle this Wednesday in LA and the next night back at Honda Center.
"We have to put some wins together now," Fowler said. "It starts on Wednesday. We should be going into those two games like Stanley Cup Game 7. It’s a big rivalry. Playing those guys back-to-back in a home-and-home, it could get us going in the right way in a position direction or it could set us back again. We have to be ready."
20:00 - END OF GAME - The Ducks can't create any opportunities late and fall 3-2.
19:20 - Ellis starts the play in net, but sprints to the bench when the Ducks get it in deep.
19:11 - ANAHEIM GOAL - CAM FOWLER - Right off the draw, Fowler wrists a shot through a Perry screen that gets under Backstrom's right arm. It's not over yet.
19:07 - Wild ice it with 52.5 left. It's desperation time.
18:05 - A Perry tip goes slowly rolling through the crease, but just wide. No breaks tonight for Anaheim.
17:47 - Ellis to the bench as the Ducks go 6 on 5.
15:45 - Beauchemin almost gets the Ducks within one, getting denied on the shot and the rebound try.
A little Smashing Pumpkins during the stoppage in play. I like it.
14:29 - Nothing doing in that two minutes before we hit the last timeout, the Ducks really with some serious work to do.
12:32 - Timeout with 7:28 left and the Ducks with some serious work to do.
9:20 - Brookbank gets beat on a foot race to the puck by Powe, who moves around Ellis, but fires it across the crease from a bad angle.
7:15 - Gordon comes this close to getting his first as a Duck, getting denied on a point blank one-timer by Backstrom. Nice feed by Beleskey to get there.
4:45 - Ducks PK comes through again.
2:45 - ANA Penalty - Kurtis Foster, 2 min. interference. Foster collides with Staubitz behind the Anaheim net.
0:45 - This time it's Cogliano chipping paint off the post, off a Selanne pass.
0:00 - Here we go in the third, the Wild with 15 seconds of power play time. Saku beats Mikko on the draw this time.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks get one back thanks to Fowler and it's 3-1 going to the third. Wild will have 15 seconds of power play time to start the period.
19:20 - Gordon whiffs twice trying to clear the puck, but gets a third chance and skates it out of there.
18:15 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry, 2 min. goaltender interference. Perry is nudged into Backstrom and they both go down. Perry not happy with the call.
17:50 - Ducks firing at will on the Minny net. Let's hope it's just a matter of time.
15:30 - Selanne AGAIN loudly rings the post with a rifled slap shot that beat Backstrom.
11:46 - Ducks can't capitalize and we're back at full strength.
11:00 - Selanne one-timer from the circle rings the post.
9:46 - Ducks go 4 on 3.
9:46 - MIN Penalty - Kyle Brodziak, 2 min. slashing. That call leads one Minnesota guy sitting up here a few chairs down from me to slap the table.
9:35 - ANA Penalty - Saku Koivu, 2 min. elbowing and MIN Penalty Jared Spurgeon, 2 min. slashing. Selanne tries to force the puck under Backstrom, who falls backward with it underneath him, as a scrum around the net leads to the penalties. Selanne puts his hands up on the air (wishful) thinking it's a goal, but it's waved off on the ice. A replay review confirms that ruling.
7:02 - Cogliano and Koivu play give-and-go and Koivu's slap shot one-timer is sucked in by Backstrom.
6:00 - Ellis kicks away a Setoguchi offer, after he pounced on a loose puck.
3:30 - Ducks kill that short-lived power play.
2:15 - ANAHEIM GOAL - CAM FOWLER - On the 4-on-4, Fowler takes in the puck in the left wing circle and fires a wrist shot that sizzles past a drawn-out Backstrom's left arm. First of the year for Fowler, who had 10 last year and it's a big one to get the Ducks back in this game.
2:00 - McMillan on a trail to the net, but loses the handle. Got a nice pass from Ryan.
1:28 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry, 2 min. tripping. Perry trips up Falk with the stick. That one hurt as the power play gets wiped.
0:23 - MIN Penalty - Mikko Koivu, 2 min. interference. Koivu knocks down Cogliano on his way to the puck. Ducks need something here.
0:00 - Ducks come out for the second period with Dan Ellis in net.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Bad first period ends with the Wild in front 3-0.
19:58 - Right near the end of the period and Perry shot ramps up a stick and gets Setoguchi in the face. He's slow to get up and heads off on his own strength.
19:31 - MINNESOTA GOAL - JARED SPURGEON - Spurgeon gets the puck above the left wing circle and launches a slap shot that darts under Hiller's left armpit. Wild looking anything like a team that played last night in jumping out to a 3-0 lead.
16:11 - MINNESOTA GOAL - MATT CULLEN - Wild get on the rush as Cullen leads Clutterbuck with a pass on the wing and Clutterbuck gives it right back to him for the goal. It's 2-0 Minny
14:45 - Ducks a little too generous with the puck right now, and the Wild hold a 13-5 shot advantage.
14:40 - Gordon with a slap shot from the point, still looking for his first goal.
11:19 - Hiller stands pat as Cullen tries to jam it underneath him in the crease.
9:46 - ANA Penalty - Peter Holland, 2 min. holding. Holland grabs onto Gillies trying to pry the puck away.
7:07 - Hiller with a nice stop on a shot from the circle by Cullen, though I'm not sure he saw the puck all the way.
According to our trivia game during the timeout, in 1947 the NHL mandated that players raise their stick after scoring a goal so officials and fans could know who scored. I didn't know that.
6:09 - MINNESOTA GOAL - KYLE BRODZIAK - Johnson emerges from behind the net and tries to jam the puck under Hiller. It kicks off his leg pad into the crease, where Brodziak is there to punch it home. It's 1-0 Wild.
5:45 - Beleskey is delayed getting back up ice (or off the ice) when his stick gets stuck in Setoguchi's blade.
4:30 - Ducks buzz around the Wild net, but can't convert on the PP.
4:00 - Foster with a shot through traffic on the PP that Backstrom stops. Foster will be getting some significant ice time in Visnovsky absence.
2:21 - MIN Penalty - Nick Johnson, 2 min. tripping. Early opportunity for the men in black.
1:50 - Perry tries to force it in on the wraparound, and it kicks to Getzlaf, who can't get it over a prone Backstrom from point blank. Ducks missed a big chance there.
0:00 - Mikko Koivu wins the draw against older brother Saku as we get underway at Honda Center.
5:06 p.m. - Another rousing rendition of the anthem by Dawn Wright, as tiny members of an orange-clad youth hockey team stand with the Ducks starters. Starters in bold/italics.