ANAHEIM – Any hopes the Ducks had of winning consecutive games for the first time since October were stomped out by a Vancouver Canucks team that is playing as well as any in the NHL.
The defending Western Conference champions scored the game’s first four goals, and held off an attempted Anaheim comeback in the third period to roll to a 5-2 victory that was their sixth in the last seven games.
"You can’t play from behind on a team like that because they know how to win and close games out," said Bobby Ryan, who scored a third period goal for the Ducks. They just kept pushing and outplayed us in every aspect."
The Ducks were looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since October 17, as they were coming off an encouraging 3-2 win in San Jose on Monday night. Vancouver beat the Sharks by the same score last night, edging them in overtime.
"There has been a lack of consistency, save for the first five games, throughout the year," Ryan said. "We seem to take one step forward and then all the sudden two steps back. It hasn’t been accepted throughout the room. We continue to work and try to build on something. We don’t make it any easier on ourselves on games like that tonight."
A sellout crowd of 17,544 saw Anaheim give the home fans faint hope in the third period. Ryan tapped in a Teemu Selanne pass 6:11 into the period, and Nick Bonino later one-timed an Andrew Gordon feed to make it 4-2 with 5:36 left. But the Canucks slammed the door soon afterward, when Henrik Sedin fed twin brother Daniel just left of the net to make it 5-2 with 3:58 remaining.
In the two teams’ last meeting, November 11 at Honda Center, it was the Ducks who took a 4-0 lead into the third, barely staving off a Vancouver comeback for a 4-3 victory. Tonight, the Canucks didn’t let them come that close.
"The one thing we said is we can’t give them easy plays and we can’t beat ourselves," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "It seems like the games that we do lose, we beat ourselves. You could look at all five goals as being based on turnovers. You can’t turn the puck over against a team that is that offensively gifted."
It was a rough night for Anaheim from the very beginning, as the Canucks scored their first goal just 71 seconds after the opening draw. A Toni Lydman giveaway in the corner led to Alex Burrows sending the puck in front, where Henrik Sedin flipped it top shelf.
Vancouver struck again near the end of the period, as Cody Hodgson fired from the right wing and got around Lydman to follow up his own rebound and punch it past Jonas Hiller.
Things didn’t get any better for the Ducks in the second, as Mason Raymond reached out and tipped a nice Ryan Kesler feed to give Vancouver a 3-0 lead.
Vancouver made it 4-0 and chased Hiller 7:59 into the middle session when Cam Fowler surrendered the puck at the red line, leading to Daniel Sedin to skate down the right wing unmolested and sling the puck inside the far post.
"We knew they were hot right now and one of the top teams," Hiller said. "It looks like we weren’t ready to compete with them. We looked like we were the team that played last night, instead of them. They looked like they were quicker and were winning most of the one-on-one battles. If you are not 100 percent ready to play, you definitely won’t win against one of the hottest teams right now."
The Canucks were bolstered by goalie Cory Schneider, who started in place of Roberto Luongo as the Canucks played the second of a back-to-back. Schneider made a number of big stops, and had some luck on his side when an apparent Ryan goal in the second was smothered by Schneider’s glove just before it trickled over the stripe.
The Ducks will look to bounce back Saturday night, when they face their former goalie, J.S Giguere and the Colorado Avalanche in a New Year’s Eve battle.
20:00 - It's over. Canucks win it 5-2.
19:34 - Ducks don't do much on that power play.
17:34 - VAN Penalty - Alex Edler, 2 min. hooking.
16:02 - VANCOUVER GOAL - DANIEL SEDIN - Canucks spoil any hopes of the Ducks getting closer, as they play tic-tac-toe and finish the job when Henrik feeds Daniel and he sends it through from just left of the net.
14:24 - ANAHEIM GOAL - NICK BONINO - After getting denied seconds earlier, the Gordon-to-Bonino hookup fights back, with Gordon sending the puck from the left wing wall to Bonino in the slot, and he one-times it past Schneider. Ducks pull within two with 5:36 left.
14:08 - Bonino rocks a slap shot off a Gordon feed that Schneider kick saves.
11:41 - Daniel gets the puck in very deep, but Ellis slides out to deny him. He's been good in Hiller's stead.
9:58 - ANA Penalty - Toni Lydman, 2 min. cross checking. First chance for the league's top-ranked power play.
9:30 - Kesler and Beauchemin are nose to nose away from the play, but Kesler wants no part of Beauchemin. Probably a wise choice.
Panama by Van Halen during the timeout, as video board shows a Hey Sedin, Your Brother's Ugly" sign in the crowd. It's supposed to be "Hey, Henrik..." but still a good effort.
7:45 - Selanne and Ryan try to connect again, but this one-timer is kicked away by Schneider. They've been all over the net tonight.
6:11 - ANAHEIM GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - Ducks finally get on the board when Selanne weaves his way out of the corner to the net, sending a backhand pass across the crease that Ryan taps home. It's 4-1 Canucks.
5:30 - Perry with a backhand tip off a Visnovsky feed, but Schneider makes another big stop. He's on tonight.
4:09 - VAN Penalty - Kevin Bieksa, 2 min. slashing. Bieksa chops down on Perry's stick as they both chase the puck into the corner.
3:10 - Schneider mishandles the puck in front of his net, giving the Ducks a chance, but they don't cash in.
0:00 - Off and running in the third. Now would be a good time for the Canucks to show the wear of playing last night in San Jose.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Another rough 20 for the Ducks, who give up two more and trail 4-0.
17:30 - Officials thankfully miss Getzlaf knocking down Schneider away from the puck. Getzlaf was checked from behind a bit.
15:50 - VAN Penalty - Andrew Alberts, 2 min. slashing. Second line of Ryan, Bonino and Selanne looking intent on making up for that near goal that didn't count. A lot of chances around the net and they draw a penalty.
15:21 - Ryan thinks he has a goal as he one-times a Selanne feed that is initially saved by a sprawling Schneider. The puck gets behind him and creeps onto the goal line as he reaches back to snuff it out with the glove. It's ruled no goal on the ice, and a replay review proves inconclusive. Tough break for the Ducks.
12:20 - Just as the penalty ends, Beleskey makes a nice pass from behind the net to Cogliano. His one-timer leaks behind Schneider, but the puck is scooped away just before it gets to the stripe.
11:30 - Palmieri back out there on the second PP unit.
10:45 - Ellis with a big stop on the shorthanded rush.
10:25 - Selanne with a nice pass in front, but Ryan's one-timer somehow goes wide.
10:10 - Ducks take a timeout to discuss an all-important 5-on-3.
10:10 - VAN Penalty - Dan Hamhuis, 2 min. cross checking. Hamhuis knocks down Palmieri, just as Fowler fires a slap shot from the point that nails Palmieri in the head. He goes down hard, and it slow to get up, but looks okay.
9:20 - Another Ducks turnover gives Burrows plenty of room on the breakaway, where he dekes to the forehand, but Ellis makes a huge stop.
8:35 - VAN Penalty - Keith Ballard, 2 min. tripping. Almost vital the Ducks get one here.
Last time these two teams played here, it was the Ducks who took a 4-0 lead. They ended up winning 4-3.
7:59 - Hiller out, Ellis in.
7:59 - VANCOUVER GOAL - DANIEL SEDIN - Another Ducks giveaway leads to a Vancouver goal, as Fowler surrenders the puck at the redline, leading to Sedin skating unobstructed down the right wing, where he fires from the circle and beats Hiller on the far side. It's 4-0.
7:05 - Selanne jumps on a rebound, but his attempt is blocked by the stick of a stretched-out Edler. Good hustle play.
5:10 - Perry gets on a partial breakaway, but his shot is knocked away by a lunging Schneider.
3:28 - VANCOUVER GOAL - MASON RAYMOND - Kesler skids to a stop and spins back in the circle to lose Fowler, then sends the puck into the slot, where Raymond reaches out to tip it past Hiller. It's 3-0.
1:00 - Ryan pries the puck loose, allowing Selanne an open shot that Schneider knocks away.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Not a good start for the Ducks, who go down 2-0.
18:29 - VANCOUVER GOAL - CODY HODGSON - Hodgson fires a shot from the right wing with Lydman on him. Hiller stops it, but lets out a big rebound in the slot, where Hodgson gets around Lydman to punch it home. It's 2-0 Canucks.
17:50 - Ducks get a break as Hiller loses the puck behind the net and is slow to get back in front. But no Canucks are around the puck to take advantage.
14:50 - Palmieri with some pretty moves to get some room, then fires a shot into Schneider. Bit of a pileup around the net after the stop, but no penalties.
13:18 - Ducks shut down on that power play.
12:05 - Vancouver very aggressive on the PK. It's part of the reason they're sixth in the league in that category.
11:18 - VAN Penalty - Dan Hamhuis, 2 min. cross checking. Hamhuis knocks down Perry away from the puck behind the goal line. First power play of the game.
9:50 - Ducks escape when a Daniel feed in front goes under Burrows' blade. He was looking at an open net.
9:58 - Perry given a lot of room just right of the net, but his shot deflects off Schneider and out of play. First timeout.
9:40 - Not a lot in the way of scoring threats the past few minutes.
2:50 - Schneider makes a big stop on Perry right in front.
1:11 - VANCOUVER GOAL - HENRIK SEDIN - A bad giveaway in the corner by Lydman leads to Burrows sending the puck quickly in front. It goes under the stick of one Sedin, but the other is right behind him to catch and flip a shot top shelf. Tough start for the Ducks.
1:03 - Hiller snags a Hansen shot with the glove. He's going to need a big night tonight against a prolific Canucks offense.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center in what feels like is going to be an exciting night.
7:07 p.m. - Young Madison Carney with a wonderful job on the Canadian and American anthems, joined nicely by Canucks fans on the former and Ducks fans on the latter.
Parros scratched tonight as Canucks don't have a fighter. Starters in bold/italics.