ANAHEIM – On a night when they had a chance to clinch a postseason berth, the Ducks didn’t exactly resemble the playoff team they’ve looked like for most of this season.
A win or even just a point against the 30th-place Colorado Avalanche (13-22-5) would have punched Anaheim’s ticket for the playoffs, but they never threatened in a surprising 4-1 loss at Honda Center.
“We didn’t compete," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "When we stink, we stink. When we’re good, we’re good. We’re good as a team, and we stink as a team, and we stunk. That team was ready to play and we thought we knew they were ready to play. We had no push back for them today.”
Goalie J.S. Giguere , who as a Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup champion for the Ducks had plenty of thrilling moments in this arena, endured a relatively easy night in saving 21 of 22 Anaheim shots.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf came back after missing three games with a leg injury, but it failed to spark the Ducks enough. "We came out a little flat and had a few chances early that we didn’t bury. [Giguere] saved a few early that could’ve changed the momentum a little bit, but we didn’t take advantage of, and they did. They came out, they were skating, they were hitting, and we weren’t.”
Two days ago, following a home loss to the 29th-place Flames, Giguere called out his Avs teammates, saying among other things, “Some guys are more worried about their Vegas trip at the end of the season than playing the games, than playing every minute of the games. Quite frankly, I don’t care about your Vegas trip right now.”
Whether it was a reaction to those words or not, the Avs seemed to come alive tonight, scoring three unanswered in the game’s first 28 minutes to put the Ducks in a major hole. That included a goal just 1:04 into the game, when John Mitchell banged in a rebound over Jonas Hiller’s shoulder.
The Ducks (27-9-5) escaped from that lackluster period only down a goal, but Colorado poured it on in the second. Four minutes in, last year’s league rookie of the year Gabriel Landeskog caught the Ducks napping during a power play, walking around Ryan Getzlaf before backhanding in the shorthanded tally.
A bit later, following a retaliatory interference penalty by Luca Sbisa, Matt Duchene one-timed a goal from the right circle with one second left in the power play.
"You’re facing a team that has nothing to lose," Getzlaf said. "They’re coming out and throwing it on the ice and going after it. They got called out by their goaltender, and teams usually respond to that. We just didn’t respond to meet that push.”
The Ducks showed a glimmer of hope at 11:16 as Teemu Selanne scored his third goal in the last six games, this one a tip-in on a great Kyle Palmieri pass on the rush.
But Colorado made it a three-goal game again with 2 1/2 minutes left in the period, as Sbisa committed a bad giveaway in his own end, and Jamie McGinn found the top corner from the right wing circle.
Viktor Fasth replaced Hiller to start the third period and made 11 saves in his stint, but the Ducks couldn’t get anything going at the other end of the rink.
Cam Fowler left the game in the first period with an upper body injury and did not return. “It’s an upper body injury, that’s what we’re leaving it at until we see what’s going on tomorrow," said Boudreau. "I’ve got to look at it again. I don’t think it was much, but sometimes it doesn’t take much to get hurt.”
The Ducks will have their chances to clinch that playoff spot in the next couple of days based on other action around the league, or they can control their own destiny with a win at LA on Saturday.
20:00 - END OF GAME - Not the best for the Ducks, who fall 4-1.
19:45 - Duchene AGAIN with a shot that Fasth stops.
17:55 - Beauchemin loses the puck to Duchene (who is everywhere tonight), but Fasth bails him out with the stop.
16:45 - Fasth with a big stop on a Duchene one-timer from point blank. A late highlight for Anaheim.
10:30 - Not a lot to report in this period, until Perry goes bowling into Giguere. Perry looks mildly annoyed.
2:01 - Fasth knocks the puck down into the blue paint, and quickly smothers it.
0:00 - Fasth in net as we start the third. Ducks looking for a spark.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks offer some hope when they get a Selanne goal, but the Avs get one back to make it 4-1.
18:25 - Fowler with an upper body injury and it doubtful to return.
17:30 - COLORADO GOAL - JAMIE MCGINN - Sbisa with a ton of trouble in his own end, and a bad giveaway, which seconds later results in McGinn firing one top corner from the right circle. It's a three-goal lead for Colorado again.
15:18 - COL Penalty - Paul Stastny, 2 min. hooking. Stastny takes down Palmieri near the net.
14:33 - Souray and big Patrick Bordeleau get into it after an offside call. Crowd was into it, but Bordeleau was not.
12:32 - Giguere reaches out to make a magnificent glove save on Ryan from in deep. I used to like when he made stops like that. Not anyore.
11:16 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TEEMU SELANNE - Selanne does it to Colorado yet again, but credit Palmieri on this one as well. He heads up left wing on the rush and squeezes a pass toward the top of the crease that meets Selanne perfectly, and he reaches out to tap it home. Looked a lot like his 500th goal in Colorado, and it's 3-1 now.
10:45 - Ducks showing some life, as Sbisa rips a one-timer that's just knocked away by Giguere. Ducks definitely need one soon.
So the tennis balls are sitting on opposite sides of the rink. The Ducks are down 3-0. Coincidence?
9:25 - Perry gets his stick on a Getzlaf feed but it's just wide as he's ridden into the net by Hunwick.
7:54 - Timeout Ducks as Boudreau is fuming on the bench.
7:54 - COLORADO GOAL (POWER PLAY) - MATT DUCHENE - The Ducks are nearly out of the woods with one second left on the Sbisa penalty, until Duchene one-times one from the right circle that gets under Hiller. It's 3-0.
7:30 - Hiller with about three or four big stops.
5:55 - ANA Penalty - Luca Sbisa, 2 min. interference. Sbisa doesn't like a check into the glass that Van Der Gulik gave him, so he drills him away from the puck. Not the best penalty to take.
4:07 - COLORADO GOAL (SHORTHANDED) - GABRIEL LANDESKOG - Ducks get caught napping after a couple of misses shots on the power play, as Lansdeskog walks around a backchecking Getzlaf before backhanding it off Hiller and into the net. Not good. It's 2-0.
2:27 - COL Penalty - Erik Johnson, 2 min. holding. Johnson holds onto Palmieri like he's a runaway golf cart. And if you get that joke, you're a hockey fan.
0:00 - Ducks on the PP to start the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Time runs out on the period, but not on the power play, which still has 17 seconds left. Ducks trail it 1-0.
19:35 - Ducks work it around until Beauchemin slaps a shot that Giguere squeezes the pads for.
18:17 - COL Penalty - Gabriel Landeskog, 2 min. holding. Landeskog pulls down Etem as they chase the puck near the red line.
17:10 - Etem with a shot from the right wing that's wide of the far post -- but not by much.
13:37 - Duchene with a nice move around Sbisa, but Hiller stops the shot.
Some serious making out by a few couples trying to top each other during Kiss Cam. Kind of glad that didn't go any further.
11:34 - Giguere with a save on a Lovejoy shot in traffic, just before Koivu falls on him.
8:15 - Duchene with a soft shot into Hiller as Perry's penalty is two seconds away from dying.
6:17 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry, 2 min. slashing. First penalty of the game.
6:10 - Getzlaf jumps on a rebound off a Souray shot and tries to feed Perry, but he's got Johnson all over him. Getz might have been better off firing that one.
Four guys with a giant Finnish flag draped over the seats in front of the in section 206. Wondering if they bought those seats just for the flag.
2:27 - Getzlaf making his presence felt early, giving Ryan a nice feed in the slot, but Giguere is ready for the one-timer. Ryan snaps his head back in frustration.
1:04 - COLORADO GOAL - JOHN MITCHELL - Tough start for the Ducks as a Duchene shot caroms off Hiller, and Mitchell is right there to bang the rebound over his shoulder. It's 1-0.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
Hiller in net for Anaheim, someone named Giguere for Colorado.
Starters in bold/italics.
DAVID VAN DER GULIK
PAUL STASTNY (A)
CODY MCLEOD (A)
GABRIEL LANDESKOG (C)
TEEMU SELANNE (A)
SAKU KOIVU (A)
RYAN GETZLAF (C)