ANAHEIM – In a cruel case of déjà vu, a late attempt to tie the game against a bitter rival was thwarted on an empty net goal that turned the tables on a Ducks power play.
Thursday night, that gut-wrenching fate came in a 5-3 loss to the Kings at Honda Center. Tonight the Ducks were victimized there by the Red Wings, who turned a late one-goal lead into a 4-2 victory when they withstood two late Anaheim man advantages and iced it on Brad Stuart’s empty-netter with 38.8 seconds left.
"It’s very frustrating and almost the cruel side of sports," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "We made enough mistakes that cost us the hockey game. There is no other way to describe it. We again mounted a comeback in the hockey game, but it just seems that we’re one goal short again."
A Jonathan Ericsson hooking call with 2:34 remaining in the game set up an Anaheim power play that didn’t get much going before the Ducks took timeout with 1:26 left. Goalie Jonas Hiller was soon sent to the bench, and after Anaheim gave the puck away in the Detroit end, Stuart perfectly banked the puck off the wall and into the middle of the abandoned net. That deflated the Ducks fans among the sellout crowd of 17,229.
"It’s tough. It’s a new experience for us here," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. "We have to find a way to dig ourselves out of this thing."
Pulling the goalie to set up a 6-on-4 advantage was the same strategy the Ducks employed late against the Kings, as Mike Richards’ empty-netter with 1:38 left ice that game.
While looking to tie tonight's game, the Ducks failed to deliver on a power play around the five-minute mark of the final period, following a Justin Abdelkader boarding call. Anaheim, which was 1 of 5 on the power play and outshot Detroit 34-30, managed to kill off all six Wings power plays. (They came into the game having converted four of their last eight, including a 4-1 victory over the Kings last night in LA.)
Tonight’s loss, Anaheim’s 10th in the last 11 games, came on a night when the Ducks had gotten back into a game they once trailed 3-0. They did so on the strength of goals by Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne and an excruciating near miss by Bobby Ryan in the second period.
As has been the case all too often in the first quarter of this season, the Ducks twice gave up goals in the very early part of the period, getting victimized by the Wings mainstays Henrik Zetterberg in the first and Johan Franzen in the second.
Just 1:26 into the game, Zetterberg gave Detroit an early lead when he knocked down a Brandon McMillan clearing attempt and quickly backhanded it past a surprised Hiller.
That first period was known more for a 26-minute delay than anything else. A little more than six minutes into the period, a weather-related power outage that affected parts of the city of Anaheim caused the delay that saw both teams return to their locker before re-emerging to resume play.
That was the only goal of the first, giving away to a second period that saw four combined goals, the first two by the Red Wings before Anaheim crawled back. Just 14 seconds into that session, following a Cam Fowler giveaway, Franzen took a pass from Pavel Datsyuk and wristed it past Hiller stick side.
Seven minutes later, with the Wings again on the rush, Stuart fired under Hiller with the help of a Todd Bertuzzi screen.
"I thought we came out of the gates okay. We still dug a hole," Getzlaf said. "There is no doubt about that. The score doesn’t lie. At some point during the game, we let ourselves get down and get behind."
But if the Ducks were deflated by the 3-0 deficit, they didn’t show it, as Koivu one-timed a nice feed across the slot by Fowler to make it 3-1.
A minute and a half later, the Ducks came within a whisker of scoring again when Ryan tried to bat in a loose puck, only to have Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard dive across the crease to knock it away with the glove. Ryan threw his hands in the air, certain it was a goal, and a replay review did not give indisputable evidence that the puck crossed the stripe.
It was a tough break for the Ducks, who ultimately did get that second goal on the power play with 3:39 left in the period. A Getzlaf shot tricked in front of Howard, and Corey Perry backhanded it across the crease to Selanne for the chip into the wide open net.
"I think things picked up when we started hitting them and playing physical," said Andrew Cogliano. "With a team like that, you have to take the body and stall them. That is how we got turnovers and started making more plays. Other than the first 20-30 minutes, we took the game to them."
But other than those two second period goals, Howard (32 saves) continued his artistry against the Ducks, improving his record to 7-2-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average.
The Ducks, who are 1-4-1 in a stretch that has seen them play all but one game at home (the outlier a shootout loss in LA), travel to Phoenix to face the Coyotes on Wednesday night.
"It’s not a matter of what I can say now," Getzlaf said. "We are in a situation where we have to play ourselves out of it and that includes me. I just have to keep playing and we have to lead by example. Our group here, who I have been with for a little while, we have a great core of leaders and we just have to keep pushing."
20:00 - END OF GAME - Ducks drop another tough one.
19:22 - DETROIT GOAL (EMPTY NET) - BRAD STUART - Ducks give the puck away in the Detroit end, where Stuart sends it from between the circles, off the wall and into the middle of the empty net. Heartbreaker. It's 4-2.
18:50 - Ducks send Hiller to bench.
18:34 - Ducks go offside and call timeout with 1:26 left.
18:30 - Ducks having trouble getting the puck into the attacking zone.
17:26 - DET Penalty - Jonathan Eriksson, 2 min. hooking. Gordon gets in deep on Howard, but fires too low as the penalty is being committed.
16:30 - Perry drops to Getzlaf, who has the shot but hold the puck and gives it away on the pass.
16:14 - Wings kill it.
14:53 - Selanne shot creates a rebound in front that Perry tries to backhand in as he's falling down. Howard stays strong.
14:14 - DET Penalty - Justin Abdelkater, 2 min. boarding. Abdelkater pushes Brookbank face-first into the wall during a chase for the puck. Ducks have a chance during the delayed whistle, but can't get off a good shot before play is whistled dead. Big PP for them.
13:20 - Ever-active Hagman is in deep, and pounds it into Howard. Ducks are due for one, right?
12:50 - Foster is the last one back against Bertuzzi, who sends Foster to the ice with a move, but Hiller bails him out.
12:00 - Cogliano has a chance from in deep, but can't get it high enough. It's off Howard's logo.
10:00 - Selanne intercepts and shoots, with Howard just barely getting back to save it.
9:46 - Bertuzzi, screening Hiller, deflects a shot off his stick and into the crowd, where a dude in a Wings jersey falls in the aisle trying to retrieve it.
8:50 - Cogliano and Selanne rush up ice at nearly equal speed. That says something for Cogliano (weird to say considering the other guy IS 41 YEARS OLD).
7:50 - Smith-Pelly picks up his stick out of the slot just as Maxwell fires a one-timer off Howard, who apparently wasn't distracted.
6:10 - Koivu again looks for his second, but slaps it wide.
5:20 - Getzlaf comes out of the box to pick up the puck and start his own rush, but a drop pass to Perry gets away. Ducks have killed off all six power plays tonight.
3:06 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Getzlaf, 2 min. high sticking. Getzlaf gets Lidstrom in the mug in the Detroit end.
2:56 - Stuart gets in Koivu's face after he poked away at Howard before the whistle. Koivu isn't into it.
2:30 - Ducks had trailed in shots 20-8. Now it's 21-20 Wings.
1:20 - Hagman hacks away at a loose puck, then puts Stuart on his rear near the Detroit net.
0:05 - Ducks on the PK from the Smith-Pelly interference.
0:00 - Here we go in what feels like a pretty important third period for the Ducks.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks get back in the game on goals by Koivu and Selanne and come within inches of a third. It's 3-2 Wings.
19:24 - ANA Penalty - Devant Smith-Pelly, 2 min. cross checking. Whistle blows just as Ryan picks up a loose puck and roofs it and he is livid. Probably didn't realize the penalty was called.
19:10 - Smith-Pelly has a chance, but it's just deflected away by the butt of Howard's stick. Wow.
17:51 - DET Penalty - Brendan Smith, 2 min. interference. Another chance for Anaheim.
16:21 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) -TEEMU SELANNE - Mere seconds after he nearly punched in a rebound in front of Howard, Perry is right there again as the puck bounces into the crease off a Getzlaf shot. With his back to the net, he turns and backhands it through the paint, where Selanne is there to punch it in. Huge goal for the Ducks, who are suddenly back in this game at 3-2.
14:55 - DET Penalty - Cory Emmerton, 2 min. interference. Emmerton commits the penalty around the time that Koivu was denied. Ducks almost scored on that delay.
14:40 - Seconds after Koivu is denied, Selanne gets his stick tied up by Kindl on a rebound try with a gaping net in front of him.
14:20 - Stuart dives and gets his stick down in the lane to deny Koivu his second.
13:00 - During a mad scramble in front of the net, Ryan tried to punch in the puck and puts his arms in the air thinking he has a goal, but the official on the scene emphatically waves it off. Howard dove on his back to glove it, but there is a replay review to determine if it went over the stripe fully. Hard to tell from the overhead cam and the play on the ice stands. Looked like a goal, but the view didn't offer indisputable evidence. The Ducks (and Ryan for that matter) continue to get no breaks.
During the timeout, we have a Guess that Signature contest that shows a scribbled autograph with a giant T, a giant S and the number 8. Hmm, let me think about it.
11:24 - ANAHEIM GOAL - SAKU KOIVU - On a goal the Ducks absolutely had to have, Cogliano drops to Fowler on the rush, and the kid sends it across to Koivu for the one-timer. Crowd gets back into this game and it's 3-1.
8:22 - ANA Penalty - Brandon McMillan, 2 min. roughing. McMillan gets called for getting his glove on Smith's face while they chased the puck toward the wall. Smith's head snapping back probably led to the penalty.
7:10 - DETROIT GOAL - BRAD STUART - Wings get on the rush, as Stuart gets the puck from Franzen in the right circle and shoots it through a Bertuzzi screen under a blinded Hiller. It's 3-0 Wings.
6:36 - Perry tries to get something going with a wrist shot on the move, but Howard gloves it.
4:06 - Nice shot by Datsyuk toward the far post is gloved by Hiller.
0:14 - DETROIT GOAL - JOHAN FRANZEN - Just like that, the Red Wings make it 2-0, as a Fowler giveaway goes to Datsyuk, who chips from near the left wing wall to Franzen, who forehands it past Hiller on the stick side.
0:00 - Off and running in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - In a first period that took almost an hour to play (thanks to a 26-minute power outage delay) the Ducks go to the room down 1-0.
Announcement in the press box says that the power outage was due to "an external event caused by weather." It has been an ugly day here in Orange County.
17:27 - DET Penalty - Nicklas Lidstrom, 2 min. hooking. Lidstrom commits Detroit's first penalty, on a hook on Macenauer.
14:33 - Perry gets smoked by Ericsson as he races in on Howard covering the puck.
12:05 - Ryan's backhand trickles into the crease, where Perry can't quite punch it in with Howard scrambling. Ducks just can't get a bounce lately.
By the way, we're hearing that the power outage was an issue with the city of Anaheim, not Honda Center.
11:50 - Hagman, Maxwell and Smith-Pelly out there together right now.
9:10 - Koivu backhands it down the ice to kill of the power play. Big.
8:07 - Hiller with a good stop on the always-scary Franzen from the slot.
7:11 - ANA Penalty - Brandon McMillan, 2 min. delay of game. With the power play winding down, McMillan sends it out of the rink.
6:13 - Play resumes with the Wings on the longest power play in history.
5:46 p.m. - Both teams now out there getting re-warmed up. We're ready to go after a 26-minute delay.
5:44 p.m. - Ducks back on the ice, Wings not yet.
5:42 p.m. - Lights coming back on, but players not back yet. We should be good to go soon.
5:37 p.m. - Players still not on the ice, but it was just announced that play is supposed to resume in five minutes.
5:30 p.m. - Players from both teams now headed to the locker rooms. Not sure how long this delay will be.
6:13 - Play is stopped as, for the second straight game, lights go out in certain spots of Honda Center. Video board is completely out too. Unlike last game, lights appear to be completely out at one end of the rink. One half of the press box lost power, but my side is still lit.
3:35 - Hiller with a big stop on Kronwall from the bottom of the left wing circle.
1:26 - DETROIT GOAL - HENRIK ZETTERBERG - Detroit strikes quick as Zetterberg steps in front of McMIllan to knock down an attempt to clear the puck to the wall, then somehow backhands it past a surprised Hiller. It's 1-0 Detroit.
Only one tennis ball in the house tonight so far.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
5:07 p.m. - In a rare departure from Dawn Wright, alto-voiced Amanda Guererro belts out the anthem tonight. Starters in bold/italics.